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Hello everyone,
In this update we will examine numerous critical lines played by the very best players in the world. All the games are taken from the recently finished tournament in the small Dutch town of Wijk aan Zee.

Download PGN of February '10 1 e4 e5 games

Marshall [C89]

I would like to start with a topical line in the Marshal. The game Dominguez, L - Leko, P Corus A Wijk aan Zee 2010, followed the recent game Svidler,P (2754)-Grischuk,A (2736)/Moscow RUS 2009, till the players reached the following position:

Here White played 22.fxe4 instead of Svidler's 22.Bc2. A well-played game by both players, and it's not easy to point to a single inaccuracy. Almost a perfect draw! The ball is in White's court.

Open Spanish [C80]

The opening part of the game Shirov, A - Caruana, F Corus A Wijk aan Zee 2010, also copied an important, recently played game, Karjakin,S (2723)-Mamedyarov,S (2719)/Khanty-Mansiysk RUS 2009.

In the position given above Black played 16...Qd7! instead of Mamedyarov's 16...Qd5 and reached an equal position with some good play. Only some inaccuracies towards move 40 allowed Shirov to take the initiative and eventually win the game. Another well-played game, and Caruana's 16...Qd7 deserves further practical tests.

Exchange Variation [C69]

The game Karjakin, S - Caruana, F Corus A Wijk aan Zee 2010, saw a long theoretical line, which led to the endgame of the following diagram, which is slightly better for White:

Here Caruana played 20...a5, instead of 20...Kf7 as played in the rapid game Radjabov,T (2735)-Grischuk,A (2711)/Odessa 2008. This innovation doesn't change the character of the play and Fabiano equalised without too many problems, just as Grischuk did against Radjabov. Probably White has to look for alternatives, and I can offer 19.Re1, though the entire line looks fairly harmless for Black.

Archangel Variation [C78]

An important theoretical battle was seen in the game Ivanchuk, V - Shirov, A Corus A Wijk aan Zee 2010.

In this topical position Shirov repeated Caruana's novelty 16...exd4!, from the game Leko, P - Caruana, F Corus A Wijk aan Zee 2010, which was played just 4 days before. The players followed the aforementioned game till 21...Rb6! Here Ivanchuk played a novelty, 22.Qd5, but Shirov's reaction was good and allowed him to equalise in spectacular style. This clever defensive idea allowed Shirov to prove that 22.Qd5 doesn't promise any advantage, so probably we're going to see another test of Leko's 22.Rxf2 very soon.

Anand, V - Shirov, A Corus A Wijk aan Zee 2010, saw 10.a5 instead of 10.axb5. Though this line is less popular it's rather poisonous. A novelty came in the following diagram position:

In the only preceding game (Kosteniuk,A (2517)-Kosintseva,N (2518)/Konya TUR 2009) Black played 15...Rf8, but instead Shirov introduced 15...Re7 and obtained a good position. In fact, at one point Alexey was even winning thanks to Vishy's mistake, but he was the last to err and eventually lost. An interesting, though not error free game. 12...Ra8 requires further practical tests, while White can look for some advantage after 20.Bxd5.

Closed Spanish with 5.d3 [C77]

The World's top rated player decided to surprise his less experienced opponent with a relatively uncommon line in the game Carlsen, M - Caruana, F Corus A Wijk aan Zee 2010:

White has just played 9.Bg5?!, which Caruana met with the strong 9...d5!, which has been played only once before. Carlsen's aggressiveness only helped Black, and soon Magnus found himself on the defensive. Eventually the game saw a good escape from Carlsen, however the opening line looks dubious, especially after Caruana's 9...d5!, and I doubt White is going to repeat it in the future.

Petroff [C42]

Shirov, A - Smeets, J Corus A Wijk aan Zee 2010, featured one of the most topical lines in the Petroff.

Black has just played Fridman's 18...Qb3, in the 16...h6 line, and now Shirov introduced the novelty 19.Qd2. However, Black seems to be able to equalise by means of 19...Bd6, or later with the help of 24...b6. Despite White's win Black doesn't seem to experience problems so the ball is still in White's court.

The game between current and former World Champions, Anand, V - Kramnik, V Corus A Wijk aan Zee 2010, will conclude this update.

Kramnik played another topical line, 16...Be4, instead of Smeets 16...h6, and in the well-known diagram position given above Anand introduced the strong novelty 17.Qc1. Black already erred with 18...Bf8, and soon found himself in a difficult position from which he never recovered. Despite some inaccuracies, a well-played game by Anand. White's opening novelty is interesting and deserves further practical tests.


See you next month, Victor.

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