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Hello everyone,
I'm finally back home after a long North American trip. Once again this month there are a lot of novelties from lots of top level chess, and a large variety of openings.

Download PGN of February '14 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish - Marshall with 12.d3 [C89]

The game Caruana, F - Aronian, L Zurich Chess Challenge 2014, saw Fabiano playing a very rare line in the diagram position:

Here he played 16.Be3 returning his extra pawn, and two moves later introduced the novelty 18.Bd4. Aronian played carelessly and came under some pressure, it wasn't too late to play 29...Rb8 retaining good drawing chances, but instead he played 29...Bd8 and soon found himself a pawn down. A nice technical win from Caruana - his 18.Bd4 novelty sets Black some problems, but as I show they are solvable.

Open - Dilworth Variation [C82]

I've decided to share two of my own games with you, one of which is in my favourite Open Variation.

The game Viswanadha, H - Mikhalevski, V Golden State open 2014 featured the well-known Dilworth line of the 9.c3 system with 11...Nxf2.

White was unfamiliar with the line and played the dubious 15.Nb3?! here. Two more inaccuracies and the game was over. 15.Nb3 is a dubious line and can't be recommended, one should choose between 15.Kg1 and 15.Nf1.

Berlin with 4.d3 [C65]

In the game Anand, V - Nakamura, H Zurich Chess Challenge 2014, White played the popular 4.d3 to avoid the Berlin endgame, and in reply Nakmura went for the aggressive 6...Be6 (to be followed by ...0-0-0):

Here Anand introduced a novelty, 7.Nc3, which Nakamura answered with a few over-optimistic moves (9...Nh5, 13...Nf4). White seized the initiative and had he continued with 15.a6! he would have been clearly better. Instead, after 15.d4 Black came back into the game with a piece sacrifice, Vishy didn't managed to solve the problems and collapsed under Hikaru's attack. An interesting fighting game, Nakamura managed to complicate matters, while opening-wise White obtained an advantage, which he could have maintained with 15.a6. On the other hand, Black had a few chances to play safer: 6...Nd7, 8...a6 etc.

Scotch Four Knights 11.Na4 [C47]

The game Nakamura, H - Carlsen, M Zurich CC blitz 2014, featured a well-known line of the Scotch Four Knights:

In the diagram position White played the second most popular move, 11.Na4, which, in my opinion, is inferior to the main line 11.Qf3. The World Champion seized the initiative from the very beginning and led the game to a logical conclusion. A well-played game by Carlsen, who was in full control throughout, though Nakamura deserves credit for defending a difficult position for a long time and even being able to equalise after a later inaccuracy from Carlsen. Opening-wise the line with 11.Na4 doesn't look dangerous for Black, to say the least.

Italian with 5.d4 [C54]

Time to show you my second game. Lastra, R - Mikhalevski, V Foxwoods Open 2014, saw a transposition from the Scotch gambit into the Italian with 5.d4.

Here White played the dubious recapture 8.Nxd4, which I answered with 8...0-0. Black started to set White problems from this moment on which White couldn't solve, and his position collapsed more quickly than one might expect. 8.Nxd4 is a dubious move, while 8.cxd4 is necessary and leads to a roughly equal position.

Vienna with 3.Bc4 Nxe4 [C27]

A very old and rare line for top level chess occurred in the game Caruana, F - Giri, A Wijk aan Zee 2014.

In the position given above Black went for the safe 5...Be7, as the line with 5...Nc6 leads to the very sharp Frankenstein-Dracula Variation. Everything looked fine for Black but his inaccurate 12...b6 allowed White to start seizing the initiative. Caruana outplayed his rival skilfully, though Anish started to put up a lot of resistance and saved a difficult position with a series of precise moves. Caruana missed his chances, though his opening setup shouldn't present a problem as Black can equalise by means of 12...Nf6!

Petroff with 5.Nc3 [C42]

The game Dominguez, L - So, W Wijk aan Zee 2014, featured a well-known theoretical line of the Petroff with 5.Nc3 and opposite castles:

Here So decided to surprise his opponent with the rare line of Wang Hao, 8...b6, but in fact it was Black who got caught. The Cuban GM launched a strong attack on the kingside, which wasn't easy to stop. Black's only serious mistake, 16...g6? was enough to get into trouble, while 20...Qe7? only accelerated the inevitable. Dominguez demonstrated how to attack with opposite castling and the danger of the 8...b6-line. Nevertheless, it seems that Black could have retained the balance with 16...d4.

Philidor Defence Hanham Variation with 5.g4 [C41]

The very interesting fighting game Dubov,D-Pardo Simon,D Gibraltar Masters 2014, saw the aggressive line with 5.g4:

Black played the relatively uncommon 5...exd4 and the subsequent 6...Nc5. White was unprepared, and instead of 7.g5, which promised him a clear edge, he played 7.f3. The latter allowed Black to sacrifice a piece and complicate matters. An interesting game despite the numerous mistakes. However, Black's opening idea with 5...exd4 and 6...Nc5 is dubious and has to be answered by 7.g5!


See you next month, Victor.

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