ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
A wide variety to look at this month, including the extremes of the Ruy Lopez: Two successful attempts by White to break down the Berlin, based on the game Huschenbeth-Navara analysed in the November update and two efforts to make the game more dynamic from the Black side with the Deferred Steinitz.

Download PGN of February ’24 1 e4 e5 games

>> Previous Update >>

Vienna Game: 3.d4 exd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Qd3!? [C26]

I have seen this system getting increasingly popular for White, especially at short time controls. 5...d5!? is a decent response if Black is happy with a draw, but following the main move 5...Bc5 the game Abdrlauf, E - Pichot, A saw 6.Qg3!?:

It's fair to say this didn’t go so well in the game with White completely lost by move 10, but it is certainly a decent alternative to the main 6.Bf4. The game later reaches a fascinating knight ending with both sides missing multiple winning chances in a topsy-turvy draw.

Four Knights 4.Nd5!? [C47]

In Bartel, M - Nguyen, V the creative Polish GM also went his own way in the opening, but it also didn’t turn out too well. After 4.Nd5!?>:

Black has the option of allowing a transposition to a more well-known line with 4...Nxe4 5.d4 exd4, but he went his own way with 4...Bc5 and consolidated well, before the resourceful Bartel managed to rescue a draw in the ending.

Italian Opening: 3...Nf6 4.d3 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.0-0 Be7 [C55]

The Tata Steel Masters saw a surprisingly quick loss for one of the top Dutch stars. Following 7.Re1 f6 we considered the main move 8.d4 in the September update, but Abdusattorov, N - Van Foreest, J saw instead the prophylactic 8.Bb3!?:

Black still has options here but by trying to play analogously to the main line, White showed the benefits of delaying d4 with 8...a5 9.c3 Nb6 10.Nh4!? and following one mistake in response Black’s position was already almost beyond salvation.

Berlin 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Nxe5 Be7 7.Bf1 Nxe5 8.Rxe5 0-0 9.d4 Bf6 [C67]

We examined this line in the November update, with the stunning theoretical display Huschenbeth-Navara. Since then, more White players have been drawn to the idea of sacrificing the d4-pawn, such as after 10.Re1 Re8 11.Nc3!?:

Following 11...Rxe1 12.Qxe1 Bxd4 13.Bd3!?, the game is complex and White notched up a win in short order in Van Foreest, J - Hong, A during the World Rapid Championship.

Next, during the Tata Steel Masters the aforementioned game was followed further: 11.Bf4 Rxe1 12.Qxe1 Bxd4 13.Nc3 Ne8 14.Nd5 d6 15.Bg5 f6 16.Bh4 Bxb2 (Notable is that also during Tata Steel, Niemann made a comfortable draw with 16...g5!?) 17.Rb1 Be5 18.f4 Be6?:

In Firouzja, A - Maghsoodloo, P, Parham was clearly unfamiliar with the line and deviated from the strongest 18...c6 played previously which Alireza punished in instructive style.

Spanish, Deferred Steinitz: 5.0-0 Bd7 6.c3 g6 7.d4 Bg7 8.h3 [C76]

Last month we looked at the exotic 6...g5!? here, now we return to calmer waters with 6...g6. Following 7.d4 Bg7 8.h3!? Nf6 9.Re1:

We reach a typical position where Black should be happy with his chances to unbalance the game and play for a win, as he achieved in thematic style in Roebers, E - Saleh, S.

Spanish, Deferred Steinitz: 5.0-0 Bd7 6.c3 g6 7.d4 Bg7 8.dxe5 [C72]

Again with the Deferred Steinitz, following 6...g6 7.d4 Bg7 in Harikrishna, P - Pfreundt, J the higher-rated player with the white pieces angled for a simpler game with 8.dxe5!?:

After 8...Nxe5! 9.Nxe5 dxe5 10.Bg5!? Black may have been better-advised to walk into the pin with 10...Nf6, whilst following 10...Bxa4 11.Qxa4+ Qd7 12.Qb4!, Black later ran into some concrete problems and got outplayed in the endgame.

Yurtaev Variation: 7.a4 Rb8 8.c3 d6 9.d4 Bb6 10.axb5 axb5 [C78]

To finish, one of England’s top young talents took down a GM with Black in the 4NCL. In Alsina Leal, D - Royal, S, White tried the line 11.Qd3:

This is rarer than 11.Na3 but still very much known. Indeed, 11...0-0 (11...Bd7 is a good alternative) 12. Bg5 exd4 13.cxd4 h6 14.Bh4 g5 15.Bg3 Nh5 16.Nc3 Bg4!? 17.Nd5 Bxf3 18.Nxb6 Bxg2 19.Kxg2 Rxb6 had all been seen before in a high level encounter Adams-Caruana, but in this game the Spanish GM quickly went astray before missing some chances to hold a difficult rook ending.

All the best, Harry

>> Previous Update >>

Please post your Kingpawn Opening queries on the 1 e4 e5 Forum, or subscribers can write to if you have any questions.