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As I watched the games from the Tata Steel being played I was excited to see lots of interesting games starting 1 e4 e5, so I didn't even need to look any further than this elite tournament for this month's material. It's great to be able to pick from really high level OTB games again!
This month we have a guest contributor, Theo Slade who wanted to analyse a few games for the site.

Download PGN of February ’23 1 e4 e5 games

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Urusoff Gambit 2 Bc4 Nf6 3 d4 exd4 4 Nf3 Bb4+ [C24] - Theo Slade

Mari_Ooriad, P - Lorparizangeneh, S, Rasht 2015: The Urusov Gambit can be quite tricky if you’re not prepared, but the Iranian GM demonstrates how to completely neutralise White’s play with 4...Bb4+ 5 c3 dxc3 6 bxc3:

And now 6...d5!.

Vienna Game 2...Nf6 3 f4 d5 4 fxe5 Nxe4 5 Qf3 f5 [C29]

I know this line is quite trendy, but I was still very surprised to see it played at the Tata Steel Masters between two 2700+ super GMs. Fortunately for us, Black played the move that Victor preferred and that we haven't yet looked at very deeply, 5...f5:

Both players were exceedingly well prepared, but it was Black who introduced a good novelty and soon gained an advantage. This line is dangerous for Black, so it is good to see another strong defence, don't miss Rapport, R - Abdusattorov, N.

Petroff Defence 3 Nxe5 d6 4 Nd3 Nxe4 5 Qe2 Qe7 6 Nf4 c6 [C42]

Same tournament, and same story, as in Carlsen, M - Rapport, R the World Champ played a line I've looked at recently and Black chose the one main move I hadn't analysed in any detail, 6...c6:

Despite its drawish reputation this game became very sharp with Rapport sacrificing first one piece and then a second to expose the white king. However, Carlsen defended very accurately and snuffed out Black's initiative.

Giuoco Piano 8 a4 Ba7 9 h3 h6 10 Nbd2 Re8 11 b4 [C54] - Theo Slade

So, W - Nakamura, H, 2023 from the Airthings Masters round 2.1: Wesley So kicked his match off against Hikaru Nakamura in the Airthings Masters with an idea we haven’t covered before on ChessPublishing 13 Rb1:

This is interesting and has performed very well.

So, W - Nakamura, H, 2023 from the Airthings Masters round 2.3: In So’s next White game, he deviates on move 13 with 13 Qc2 Qd7 14 Rb1:

However, Nakamura shows the best defense.

Giuoco Piano 7 Bg5 h6 8 Bh4 g5 9 Bg3 a5 [C54]

In Erigaisi, A - Ding, L on the further 10 Re1 Ba7 11 Nbd2 Nh7 White played 12 d4, which had served him well in a previous game:

However, Ding had prepared the new counter 12...g4!? , which led to interesting complications where Black could have obtained a decent advantage in only a few moves.

Spanish, Yurtaev System 10 a5 Ba7 11 h3 0-0 12 Be3 Ra8 [C78]

The next game involves a long line of the Yurtaev where Black refuses to play ...h6 until it's necessary. After 10 a5 Ba7 11 h3 0-0 12 Be3 Ra8 13 Nbd2 Bb7 14 Re1 Re8 invites 15 Ng5 Re7 16 Ndf3 (Victor examined 16 d5 in the game Anand,V-Shirov,A back in 2010) and only now Black played 16...h6!:

This forces White's hand, he has no choice but to capture on f7 and change two pieces for a rook and one (or more) pawns. After the complications Ding, L - Maghsoodloo, P reached an interesting endgame of rook and two pawns against two strong bishops. White was pushing for the win for a long time, but Black stood firm.

Spanish, Zaitsev Variation 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 d6 8 c3 O-O 9 h3 Re8 10 d4 Bb7 [C92]

After the further 11 Nbd2 Bf8 12 a4 h6 13 Bc2 exd4 14 cxd4 Nb4 15 Bb1 c5 16 d5 Nd7 17 Ra3 c4 we reach the mainline position:

Various authors have considered 18 axb5 axb5 19 Nd4 on ChessPublishing in the past, but what about the natural 18 Nd4 keeping the a-file closed so that the a3-rook can avoid exchange and swing across to the kingside? This move was tried in the Kasparov-Karpov World Championship match 1986, but Black seems to be OK, see Pham, K - Van der Werf, M.

Until next month, Tony.

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