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Hello everyone,
This time it was easy to choose just one tournament to look for games. The first super tournament of the year, Wijk aan Zee 2013, saw a lot of interesting and theoretically important king pawn games and also an incredible victory for the world number one, Carlsen, with 10 out of 13 and a new rating record of 2872!

Download PGN of February '13 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish - Marshall Attack [C89]

The game Hou Yifan-Leko,P 75th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee 2013, saw a long theoretical line.

In the diagram position above Black repeated a recent novelty of Aronian's, 20...Bf4, which, according to Leko, equalizes. The Chinese player tried to improve upon White's play in Karjakin, S - Aronian, L Sao Pauolo/Bilbao 2012 with 25.a3, instead of 25.Bf4, but failed to gain any advantage and Black soon simplified into an equal endgame with opposite-colour bishops. I expect White to try my idea of 21.Qe2, and some brave players may consider 21.gxf4 too. However, the line with 21.Bxd5 seems to lead to an equal position, as was shown in the two preceding games.

Anti-Marshall with 8.a4 [C88]

The rather popular Anti-Marshall system with 8.a4 occurred in the game Karjakin, S - Aronian, L 75th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee 2013.

In this important diagram position Black introduced the novelty 16...exd4 (instead of the 16...Nxd4 from Morozevich,A (2721)-Leko,P (2740)/Monte Carlo 2006). White failed to find the best moves over the board and soon found himself on the defensive. Aronian gradually achieved a winning position, but failed to convert the decisive advantage. The interesting opening line which occurred in the game will definitely see more practical tests. In my opinion, White has to either play 17.e5 or 19.Rc1 to retain any real chances for obtaining any advantage.

Spanish with 6.d3 [C84]

In the game Leko, P - Caruana, F 75th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee 2013, Black played an early novelty in the following position:

Here he played 12...Na5, instead of Aronian's 12...Re8, but soon found himself under positional pressure. A great positional squeeze from the Hungarian GM. Caruana didn't manage to solve Black's opening problems and so the ball is now in his court.

Archangel Variation with 6...Bc5 [C78]

A strong novelty was introduced by Nakamura in the game Leko, P - Nakamura, H 75th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee 2013.

Here the top American player played 15...Re8! which is, according to Leko, "Probably a very strong novelty..." in a well-known position. It turns out that the inclusion of the moves ...Re8 and Re1 is in Black's favour, and a draw was soon agreed. An important game for theory, as 15...Re8! is likely to replace 15...Bxf3.

Archangel Variation with 6...Bb7 [C78]

Another popular branch of the Archangel Variation occurred in the game Caruana, F - Sokolov, I 75th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee 2013. Sokolov deviated from the popular 8...0-0, which he played a few days later against Carlsen, with the relatively uncommon 8...h6 and the players soon reached the diagram position, which is in White's favour in my opinion:

Here Black introduced the novelty 12...Nd7, instead of 12...Nxd5, but failed to solve the opening problems, came under pressure and eventually lost. It seems that Black experiences problems in the 8...h6 line, so 8...0-0 is probably safer.

Schliemann/Jaenisch Gambit [C64]

Tired of the Archangel Variation, which brought him two losses in Wijk aan Zee, Sokolov decided to give the Schliemann Defence a try in Anand, V - Sokolov, I 75th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee 2013.

In a side line with 6...Qe7 Black introduced a natural novelty in the diagram position, 13...Bd7 instead of 13...Be6, though the position was already very uncommon. The players exchanged inaccuracies and the game was drawn pretty early in an equal endgame. The line with 6...Qe7 is an interesting alternative to 6...d5 and requires more practical tests.

Scotch Four Knights 10.h3 [C47]

The game Wang Hao-Anand,V 75th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee 2013, saw the popular line with 10.h3.

Wang Hao introduced an interesting novelty in the diagram position, 12.Re1, and quite surprisingly found the World Champion unprepared. Vishy failed to equalize and found himself in an inferior endgame which he couldn't hold. Although the line with 10.h3 may look innocent, it's rather poisonous as the games show, and Black has to treat it with precision. Undoubtedly, it will see a lot of tests in the near future.

Ponziani 3...Nf6 [C44]

In the game Carlsen, M - Harikrishna, P 75th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee 2013, the World number one player surprised his opponent with the extremely rare Ponziani. Curiously, the Norwegian had to face this same opening later in the tournament with the black pieces.

This critical position occurred after 11.Nd2. Now I believe Black should have preferred 11...Nxd2 rather than his 11...Nc5, as the knight was misplaced here. Already 12.b4 was new, and soon the game saw Carlsen sacrifice two pawns for serious positional compensation. Black found himself in a very unpleasant position and eventually succumbed to the pressure. A nice positional squeeze from Carlsen, despite some inaccuracies. Opening-wise 12...Nd3! seems to be an obvious improvement over 12...Nb7.


See you next month, Victor.

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