ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Hi everyone,
Lots of important games from the wonderful Corus tournaments this time, plus a couple of interesting games of my own and a look at a new idea in the Latvian Gambit - I did write two books on this opening, after all! ;)

Download PGN of January '08 1 e4 e5 games

Latvian Gambit [C40]

Alejandro Melchor made an interesting post on the Forum last November, entitled: 'Latvian Gambit refuted', and was then kind enough to send me the relevant correspondence games containing his own analysis.

The 'refutation' involves one of White's most popular lines, Leonhardt's Variation, which oddly hasn't been covered on ChessPublishing so far.

The line goes 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 f5 3. Nxe5 Qf6 4. Nc4 fxe4 5. Nc3 Qf7 6. Ne3 c6 7. d3 exd3 8. Bxd3 d5 9. O-O Bc5 and now Magnus Rosenstielke's new idea is 10. b4!?:

Sacrificing a pawn to open lines and exploit White's lead in development.

Is it really a refutation? I'm not so sure, but have a look at the analysis in Rosenstielke, M - Melchor, A.

Incidentally, apart from analysing the Latvian, Alejandro helps organise a very pleasant tournament high in the Spanish Pyrenees each summer, La Pobla, which is well worth playing if you like fresh air!

Four Knights [C48]

I was faced with the Four Knights in the Bundesliga last weekend, and after a little thought I decided to avoid Rubinstein's line, suspecting that my opponent might play the drawn endgame, and went for 4...Bd6, instead. Although this might not be the strongest, it does at least lead to tense positions, and had served me reasonably well in the past. However, to my surprise my opponent immediately played 5. Bxc6!? dxc6 6. d4:

This doesn't look right, as we get an Exchange Lopez position where Black hasn't wasted a move on ...a6, but there are tactical justifications based on the e5 fork, and Black has to play very carefully, see Zaitsev, M - Kosten, A.

Exchange Variation [C68]

Funnily enough I played another ...Bd6 line as Black in a match just one week before, but this time in another Bundesliga - across the border in Austria. My opponent was loyal ChessPublishing subscriber Walter Wittmann, and I decided to try Mark Hebden's 5...Bd6 line, which was answered by the unusual 6. c3:

Rather than the normal 6. d4. Now, my first thought was to transpose into the mainline by 6...Bg4 7. d4 f6 8. Be3 Ne7. Forum members will know that this line was recommended for Black by Marin in his repertoire book, but that he failed to take account of major improvement's previously given in Stefan Kindermann's book The Spanish Exchange Variation. As both Walter and I were long-time team mates of Stefan's I was quite sure he would be well versed in this line, so I chose to play the logical 6...c5, instead.

However, then my opponent played a major improvement over a game he had played in ... 1991, and I had to spend a lot of time just keeping my position alive! Anyway, have a look at Wittmann, W - Kosten, A, which also features a 'comedy of errors' in a king and pawn ending! How I hate these 30 second increments!

Delayed Steinitz [C76]

After Mamedyarov's game against Ivanchuk (analysed by Olivier a couple of years ago) I thought White would prefer to play 9. Bb3 instead of 9. Bc2, so I was surprised to see Anand prefer the latter in Anand, V - Mamedyarov, S a couple of weeks ago, and even more surprised when Mamdyarov was the first to deviate, here:

On closer examination I think I have found the reason Black avoided repeating his 13...f5 - see the notes. I predict that Black will soon return to the traditional 9...Nf6.

Open Variation [C80-83]

As I am writing this Corus is coming to a close and Magnus Carlsen is leading the main event. In Adams, M - Carlsen, M he plays the Open Variation and introduces a new move that comes close to equalising for Black.

Marshall Gambit

Over the last few months 12. d3 has almost become the mainline:

Currently White's idea is to go pawn grabbing while keeping the d4-square for his dark-squared bishop. The line continues 12...Bd6 13. Re1 Bf5 14. Qf3 Qh4 15. g3 Qh3 16. Bxd5 cxd5 17. Qxd5 Rad8 18. Qg2 reaching an important juncture:

Now Black has a choice, he can either capture on g2 and d3 and try to hold the endgame with his strong bishops, see Stellwagen, D - Harikrishna, P, or he can play for more by 18...Qh5 as in Smeets, J - Bacrot, E, where Bacrot demonstrates some brilliant new home preparation and wins in superb style. White has many ways to improve, though, and so it probably won't be long before this line gets tested again.

Zaitsev Variation

I had a look at the super-sharp variations occurring after 12. a4 a short time ago, but this line is only for computers, or correspondence players. Over the board, strong GMs normally prefer the positional 12. d5, and after 12...Nb8 13. Nf1 Nbd7 the move 14. N3h2!:

The point is that Black will have to play ...c6 fairly soon when a type of 'Boleslavsky Sicilian' structure will be reached, and where both sides will battle for the control of d5. Thus, White will play Bg5xf6, and this last move prepares the further knight to g4 to exchange the other black defender of d5, while the f1-knight is kept ready to go to e3.

I have picked two games from Wijk with this line, Almasi, Z - Navara, D and Leko, P - Adams, M which succinctly demonstrate the various ideas for both sides.

Till next month, Tony

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