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First I want to thank you for all your positive feedback, it's really appreciated.
This time I decided to cover a wider spectrum of lines, though as usual most of them are in the Ruy Lopez.

Download PGN of February '09 1 e4 e5 games

The Marshall Variation [C89]

I'll start with Svidler's 15.Qe2 in So, W - Gupta, A, Corus C Wijk aan Zee 2009, instead of the main line 15.Be3.

In the diagram position Black came up with the very interesting novelty 18...f5 and achieved a draw by a series of spectacular sacrifices. A brilliant game, I wonder if Black reached the final position at home? 23.Bxd5! is an improvement upon White's play.

In Kotronias, V - Sokolov, I, 7th Gibtelecom Masters 2009, Black played the old main line, 13...Qh4. Soon they reached the following position:

Here Black played the relatively rare 15...Qd7, instead of 15...Qf5. The dubious 20...Bb7 was a novelty, instead Sokolov should have played 20...Qc6! with the initiative. After mutual mistakes an equal position arose on the board, but 40...b4? was too much and eventually White won. Nevertheless, 15...Qd7 deserves further practical tests.

The Breyer variation [C95]

Cheparinov, I - Alekseev, E, FIDE Grand Prix 2008, saw the 13.a4 line instead of the more popular 13.Nf1. After a series of natural moves the players reached the following position:

Here Black introduced the dubious novelty, 22...Bf8, when instead he should have chosen between 22...c5 and 22...d5. White underlined Black's mistake with 23.Qb3 and then went on to win the game in brilliant style. The final combination after 32...c5 deserves a diagram:

I hope you will be able to find it on your own!

Zaitsev Variation [C92]

Ni Hua-Leon Hoyos,M, Reggio Emilia 2008/9, featured an extremely rare idea, which was previously tested only once, by Leon Hoyos' boss, Ivanchuk.

Black has just played Ivanchuk's 14...Rc8 and immediately faced an interesting novelty, 15.Bg5, instead of Leko's 15.Ng4. Black's reaction,15...h5, was inaccurate and soon he came under a strong attack on the kingside. Though White could have played better, it wasn't easy to stop his attack. If Black wants to keep playing 14...Rc8 he needs to meet 15.Bg5 with 15...h6.

Neo-Archangel Variation [C78]

Kamsky, G - Morozevich, A, Corus A Wijk aan Zee 2009, featured a slow positional line, 10.d3, which is not without poison, however. After 15...c6 the players reached the following, approximately equal position:

Starting from here Kamsky's play was simple and strong, while Moro committed a number of mistakes, some of them hardly explainable, and was duly outplayed. A very good positional achievement from Gata Kamsky. Nevertheless, the line which was chosen by White shouldn't cause Black serious problems.

The Open Variation [C82]

The game Motylev, A - Caruana, F, Corus B Wijk aan Zee 2009, saw a surprising novelty in the 11.Qe2 line, 12.Qd1 in the diagram position, although it doesn't promise White any advantage:

Black accepted the challenge with 12..Re8 and could have equalised with 14...h6, but went wrong and allowed White to obtain a slight edge. However, Black's position remained pretty solid and he managed to hold a draw in an endgame a pawn down. White's opening idea is unlikely to find many followers.

The Berlin Wall [C67]

In the game Stellwagen, D - Carlsen, M, Corus A Wijk aan Zee 2009, Magnus introduced an interesting novelty in the relatively rare line with 10...b6.

He played 11...Bb7 here and soon a complicated position arose with approximately equal chances. After an inaccuracy on the 15th move both players did their best and eventually the game was drawn. The game shows that Carlsen's opening novelty deserves further tests, though White can try to set more problems with 13.e6 and 15.Re1.

Four Knights [C48]

The following miniature Short,N-L'Ami,E, Corus B Wijk aan Zee 2009, will conclude this update.

Short has just played an old move, 5.Nxe5, which in fact decided the game. The Dutch GM turned out to be unprepared and committed the mistake 5...Nxb5? and soon found himself in a lost position. A rare opening catastrophe at this level - Black has to play 5...Qe7 with a good position.

See you next month, Victor.

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