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Hello everyone,
In this issue I decided to place the emphasis on the Spanish, and in particular the Marshall, as this system had recently been in the shadow of the Anti-Marshall systems, but was suddenly played in a few recent games. In a similar vein another interesting system is Gajewski's surprising novelty 10...d5, which he introduced in 2007.
The main source of the games this time is the insanely strong open tournament in Gibraltar.

Download PGN of February '12 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish - Marshall with 15.Qe2 [C89]

Hou Yifan-Adams,M, Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2012, featured a long theoretical line, which had previously occurred in Volokitin, A - Kurnosov, I/Dagomys 2008.

In the diagram position Black introduced the logical novelty 23...Re8 (instead of Kurnosov's 23...Nb6) and easily equalised. 24.a4 seems to be the only try to set some problems, but the ball remains in White's court.

Marshall with 15.Qf3 and 15.Be3 [C89]

While participating in the Aeroflot Open 2012 I witnessed two games of Tomashevsky's, one in the 15.Qf3 line against Safarli and another in the 15.Be3 line against Balogh. Let's start with the game Safarli, E - Tomashevsky, E Aeroflot Open 2012. The players followed the game Grischuk, A - Tomashevsky, E/Moscow RUS 2010, for the first 18 moves:

Here Black deviated with 18...Re6 instead of 18...Re7, even though he had no problems in that game. Anyway, soon the players went for a repetition of moves, which gave Black another easy draw.

The second of his games, Balogh, C - Tomashevsky, E, Aeroflot Open 2012, which is in the notes to the previous game, featured an old theoretical line.

In the diagram position given above Black played a very rare continuation of Geller's which dates back to 1965, 16...Nxe3, instead of the main line, 16...Rae8. A draw was already agreed on move 20 in a position which has been known since the Capablanca memorial in 1965, which saw two games played in this line: Ciocaltea, V - Geller, E and Fischer, R - Donner, J.

Marshall with 9.d4 [C89]

The game Carlsen, M - Kamsky, G, 74th Tata Steel GMA 2012, saw a relatively rare way to meet the Marshall, the 9.d4 line.

White's novelty came very early, as in the position given above White played 11.Nxc6 instead of 11.Nd2. The players exchanged mistakes on move 15, but already 16.c4?! allowed Black to take control of the initiative, and Carlsen managed to escape with a draw only after a long and tough defence. 15.c4 seems to be White's best chance to fight for the initiative.

All these games confirmed the fact that White currently has no serious ideas against the Marshall.

Anti-Marshall with 8.h3 [C88]

The game Svidler, P - Muzychuk, A, Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2012, saw the current World Cup Winner avoid the Marshall with 8.h3.

Here Black decided to follow a recent game of Kamsky, who played 11...Nxe5 instead of the main line, 11...Nd4. After a forced line Peter introduced the novelty 15.Ne4, but this failed to set any serious problems. 15.a4 looks like a better attempt, but it requires practical tests, while in the game White only obtained some chances thanks to Black's mistake, 32...Ne4?

Breyer with 10.d3 [C94]

The game Short, N - Mamedyarov, S, Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2012, saw a relatively rare setup with 10.d3, instead of the much more common 10.d4.

Black was the first to introduce a novelty here with 16...g6!?, but soon started to err: his 20...Nb6 and 22...Nxc4 were inaccurate and allowed White to grab the initiative, and eventually Black succumbed under the pressure. A good positional achievement from Short, who fully outplayed his dangerous opponent. The opening line with d3 is well-forgotten and so it makes sense to come back to it at least occasionally. 17...ed4 seems to me the way to go for Black, but the position requires practical tests.

Gajewski Variation [C96]

The game Kulaots, K - Nyback, T, XXI Paul Keres Memorial Rapid 2012, featured a line which hasn't been seen at the GM level for a while. I mean the surprising gambit line 10...d5!?, which was introduced by the Polish GM Gajewski.

In the diagram position White played the rare 13.Bf4, which is, however, the first choice of Houdini. Black answered with the risky, but interesting novelty 13...Bb7, instead of the earlier played 13...cxd4. After the inaccurate 18.Rf1?! (18.Qxd8 was better) Black could have taken the initiative with 18...Qe7. I have a feeling that White should be able to obtain a slight edge with correct play in the Gajewski system, but as the game showed he has to be very accurate. 13...Bb7 looks like a good novelty, but requires more practical tests.

Open Variation with 9.Be3 [C83]

The encounter Polgar, J - Koneru, H, Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2012, saw Judith choosing a side line against the Open Variation.

First she played 12.Bc2 instead of the more popular 12.Re1 and then in the position of the diagram came the extremely rare 14.Bg5. Black reacted pretty well, but her 19th move was inaccurate, 19...Nh5 was better. However, Polgar returned the favour, as 23.Nd4! instead of 23.Ne5? promised White the upper hand, although Black seems to hold with accurate play. The 12.Bc2 line doesn't seem to set Black many problems, though Judith's idea is interesting and requires more practical tests.

Berlin [C67]

The game Hou Yifan-Almasi,Z, Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2012, featured an important novelty:

White has just played 12.Nd5, which worked extremely well in Karjakin, S - Kramnik, V/Monaco MNC 2011, but Almasi came with the important novelty 12...g5! and easily solved his opening problems. However, his inaccuracies on moves 19 and 20 allowed White to take the initiative, which she transformed into a full point. Despite Black's loss in the game, the novelty 12...g5! is strong and promises Black equal chances. Anyway, a good game from the Women's World Champion!


See you next month, Victor.

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