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As I'm just examining the complexities of 1 e4 e5 for a month, I'm afraid you'll have to put up with lines which have caught my attention. Recently I was trying to work out when a 2700-strength player last defeated the Marshall as White; not a particularly easy or pleasant issue to ponder over! Equally worrying, the super-GMs are beginning to also look rather impregnable as Black in the Anti-Marshall...

Download PGN of February '07 1 e4 e5 games

Ruy Lopez: Anti-Marshall [C88]

White has a number of ways to avoid the dreaded Marshall Gambit after 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 0-0. Of late the elite appear to be focussing their attention on 8 h3, but 8 a4 remains a reasonable option. Black can probably equalise with accurate play, but White can certainly gain chances to outplay the opponent in an unbalanced and fairly typical Lopez-type position. Dvoirys-Plachetka focusses on the traditional 8...Bb7 9 d3 d6 10 Nbd2, while in Palliser - Gormally I preferred to retreat my bishop to c2, rather than a2, after 10 c3:

At the recent Morelia/Linares super-tournament Vishy Anand had to face the Marshall on no less than three occasions. Each time he opted for 8 h3, but without every really gaining any advantage and 8...Bb7 9 d3 d6 10 a3 Na5 11 Ba2 c5 gives Black reasonable Chigorin-style counterplay, as we'll see in Anand - Aronian:

Ruy Lopez: Chigorin Variation [C96-99]

Another important, popular and theoretical variation is the Chigorin: 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 d6 8 c3 0-0 9 h3 Na5 10 Bc2 c5. Following 11 d4, Black opted for the Keres Variation with 11...Nd7 in Anand - Carlsen, but White went on to win both the game and effectively the tournament with a fine knight sacrifice later on e6.

11...Qc7 also remains quite common and following 12 Nbd2 cxd4 13 cxd4, 13...Nc6 14 d5 was seen in another Palliser - Gormally clash. Whereas in our Anti-Marshall game poor Danny was too slow to gain counterplay in the centre and on the queenside, this time he was guilty of overextending on the queenside. Black doesn't have to immediately return his knight from the rim, but currently White appears to be doing quite well after 13...Rd8 14 b3 Nc6 15 Bb2 Bb7:

, as we'll see in Al Modiahki-Greet. Keep an eye open for more games with Al Modiahki's new approach with 16 d5!?.

The Gunsberg Variation [C47]

Something much less theoretical is White's attempt to switch colours with 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 a3. We haven't seen much of this variation since the early days of this site, but it remains a tricky little weapon, especially in quick games or against non-1 e4 players. The opening can also burst into life with 4...g6 5 Nxe5!?, but Black appears to have neutralised this piece sacrifice with 5...Nxe5 6 d4 Nc6 7 d5 Bg7!:

see Polzin - Levin.

White can also reach the Gunsberg with a 1 e4 e5 2 a3 move order, but in Surtees - Palliser he prefers something much more radical with 2...Nf6 3 d3 d5 4 f4!?:

Hope you enjoy these games! Richard

Please post your Kingpawn Opening queries on the 1 e4 e5 Forum, or subscribers can write to me at if you have any questions.