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Hello everyone,
This time I played the very strong open tournament in Gibraltar and I'm going to share with you one of my games from there. Otherwise, interesting top level games with important, and less important, novelties, most of which were played in the Spanish.

Download PGN of February '15 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish - The Breyer Variation [C95]

This system, which has been popular for quite a while, occurred in the game Anand, V - Baramidze, D 3rd Grenke Chess Classics 2015.

The players reached an important theoretical position after White's 18.Qd2. Here Baramidze introduced a novelty, 18...exd4, which seems to be wrong. Anand answered it with some solid and logical play and slowly, but surely realized his positional advantage. A rather convincing win from the ex-champ. 18...exd4?! seems to be the reason for Black's difficulties. Probably one should stick with 18...Nf8 or to look for improvements after 15...c5.

Spanish - The Marshall Variation with 12.d3 [C89]

In the game Naiditsch, A - Caruana, F 3rd Grenke Chess Classics 2015, the players followed two games of Aronian from last year, one of them played against Caruana, for the first 20 moves and reached the following diagram position:

Here Caruana deviated from the aforementioned games with 20...Rxe1, but hasn't achieved full equality because of the inaccurate 24...Rb8. We can say that Naiditsch managed to set Black some problems, but Fabiano was up to the task. Probably 24...bxa4 is more accurate and gives Black an easier equality.

Spanish with 4...Nge7 and ...g6, Aronian Variation [C70]

The game Burrows, M - Mikhalevski, V Gibraltar Masters 2015, featured the main line of the Aronian Variation.

In the diagram (after 12...c5) we've reached an important position, where White played 13.Bf4 instead of the main line, 13.dxc5. After White's inaccuracies on moves 15-17 I seized the initiative and won the game without big problems. A relatively easy win, which shows that White's 13.Bf4 is faulty.

Spanish - Berlin Wall with 9.h3 h6 [C67]

The ever popular Berlin endgame occurred in the game Caruana, F - Carlsen, M 3rd Grenke Chess Classics 2015.

After 15.Nfd4 the players reached the important diagram position, in which Black had previously suffered three losses in three games. Carlsen prepared an improvement, 15...Nf8, which allowed him to equalise easily. A short, but interesting battle in an important line. The ball is in White's court, as Caruana didn't set Black any problems after 15...Nf8, but I think that 16.Rd2 is worth a try.

Spanish - Anti-Berlin with 4.d3 Bc5 5.0-0 Nd4 [C65]

A rather popular line of the Berlin with 5...Nd4 took place in the game Harikrishna, P - Chirila, I Gibraltar Masters 2015.

In the position given above Black introduced the unfortunate novelty 8...Bc5 and came under a strong attack. A well-played game by Harikrishna, which may serve as a guide of how to exploit a development advantage. Black should stay with 8...Bb6.

Spanish - Anti-Berlin with 5...d6 [C65]

The game Carlsen, M - Radjabov, T 77th Tata Steel GpA 2015, saw the same popular line of the Anti-Berlin, but this time with 5...d6:

Here Carlsen was faithful to himself and deviated from the main lines with the rare 6.Nbd2 and then introduced an interesting setup, leaving Black with a passive position. A typical Carlsen win, where he exploited slight inaccuracies from his opponent to bring home a full point. Even though many say that his opening preparation isn't so great for his level I'm impressed with the way he played the opening in this game - the ball is in Black's court.

Spanish - Exchange Variation with 5...Qf6 [C69]

In the game Naiditsch, A - Efimenko, Z Bundesliga 2014-15, the players followed the main line of the 5...Qf6 system and reached the diagram position:

Here Black introduced the rather logical novelty 13...0-0-0, instead of 13...a5, and equalised easily. Black has won the opening battle and so White has to look for improvements.

Giuoco Piano with 6.b4 [C54]

The game Caruana, F - Anand, V 3rd Grenke Chess Classics 2015, saw an old line with 6.b4.

Here Caruana chose the rather rare 10.h3, which was answered by the very rare 10...c6. Anand then achieved his goal without much effort, but his play wasn't flawless. Slight inaccuracies from both sides led to a draw. I have to say that White's opening setup doesn't look impressive and delaying Nbd2 didn't justify itself.


See you next month, Victor.

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