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As promised, once again I cover some critical lines from the Marshall and Breyer variations this month, though I'll also take a look at the Anti-Marshall and Neo-Archangel variations of the Ruy Lopez. You'll also find a detailed analysis of a Petroff defense line, and there is the second part of the King's Gambit Forum digest to download.

The second part of Micawber's ChessPub Forum analysis digest covers C30-C36 and features some intriguing analysis of 2...Bc5 where 'Black is not OK'! Download once again by clicking here: Download Games. You can also download all the lines (from both part 1 and 2) in PGN format here (quite big, 486kb, but this version is missing the introduction): Download Games.

Download PGN of January '09 1 e4 e5 games

The Marshall Variation [C89]

I'll start with the game which I promised to cover last month, Ni Hua-Sargissian,G, 38th Olympiad Dresden 2008, which featured a topical line of the 12.d4 variation. The key position has arisen after 22...Qg5:

Now Ni Hua played a novelty, 23.Bb3+, which I found while analysing Efimenko-Sargissian for the December update. Sargissian was well-prepared, however, and equalised without any major problems. Moreover, one move before agreeing to a draw he had a chance to obtain a big advantage. So the ball remains in White's court, although I think that 25.Qc2 is a chance to fight for some advantage.

The next two games also feature 17...Qh5, but are a test of Leko's 18...Re7 (as I mentioned earlier this also arises after 17...Re7 18.Qf1 Qh5) instead:

I'll go in chronological order, so first up is Bacrot, E - Inarkiev, E, FIDE Grand Prix, Elista 2008. Bacrot played a novelty, 19.Bxd5, but obtained no advantage and a draw was soon agreed in an endgame with bishops of opposite colours.

Just a few days later Inarkiev was ready to look at the position from White's side instead in Inarkiev, E - Leko, P, FIDE Grand Prix, Elista 2008. This time White followed the stem game Anand, V - Leko, P, Dortmund 2007, with 19.a4, and later he tried to improve with 22.Qg2, but two moves later he could have improved on his 24.b3 and 25.c4?! which allowed Black to equalise easily. Right now White's only chance to challenge 18...Re7 seems to be 24.Ra5.

Anti-Marshall [C88]

Sometimes White gets tired of tons of theory and opts for various different lines of the Anti-Marshall, which are less explored. This is the initial position of the 8.h3 line, from Leko.P-Jakovenko,D, FIDE Grand Prix, Elista 2008:

After 8...Bb7 9.d3 Jakovenko insisted on the Marshall with 9...d5, anyway, but Leko refused to accept the pawn and played 11.a4. Jakovenko reacted correctly and was close to equality, but committed two serious mistakes (19...Bc6? and 20...b4?), which left his position on the edge of a precipice. Despite this Black continued his heroic attempt to complicate matters and was eventually rewarded by two inaccuracies from Leko, which allowed him to save half a point. 11.a4 doesn't look too dangerous for Black, and with the help of 19...Qf6 he should be able to equalise without problems.

The Breyer variation [C95]

Another game which I promised to analyse is Tseitlin, M - Avrukh, B, ISR-ch, Haifa 2008.

In the diagram position Black played 19...cxd5 (instead of the 19...bxc4 which I analysed in December), and after 20.cxd5 sacrificed a knight for two pawns by 20...Nbxd5. It's funny that Boris considered this sacrifice to be a strong novelty, but in fact it was introduced by another Boris, Spassky, against Judith Polgar back in 1993, and then successfully repeated in Kamsky,G-Van der Sterren, Wijk aan Zee 1994. The current game is the third successful test of this idea, which indicates that White has to study it carefully. He can improve his play in this game with 23.Be4!?, which doesn't promise an advantage however. Probably 22.Rac1 is the only realistic chance to challenge Black's idea.

In Akopian, V - Alekseev, E, FIDE Grand Prix, Elista 2008, White deviated from White's play in the previous game with 18.Bd2 instead of 18.Be3. After 18...Nc5 we reach the following position:

Here White introduced a novelty, 19.Rb1 instead of the 19.Rc1 of Krakops,M (2440)-Gabriel,C (2570)/Pula 1997, and a few moves later exchanged the dark-squared bishop on c5, which I suggested in a similar position in Karjakin,S (2730)-Harikrishna,P (2659)/Motril ESP 2008. White played well and obtained a slight edge until 24...cxd5, but his recapture 25.cxd5? was wrong and allowed Black to create counterplay after pushing his c-pawn, when 25. exd5 would have allowed White to retain the advantage. Despite the loss in this game Akopian's 19.Rb1 deserves serious attention.

Neo-Archangel Variation [C78]

Our only game in this sharp system is Palac, M - Adams, M, 38th Olympiad Dresden 2008.

In the above position, which arose after 9...Bg4, White tried the rare 10.h3, which was introduced at the GM level by Anand in Dortmund last year. It gained some popularity in the Women Mind Sports blitz games in China in October 2008, and featured in no less than four games. After 10...Bh5 Palac continued with 11.Bg5 and soon obtained a position with an extra tempo (h3) compared to the former main line with 10.Bg5. After good play from both sides White was the first to err by 19.Nc4?!, when he could have set problems with 19.Nc2, and Black soon managed to equalise. The interesting line which occurred in this game requires further tests.

The Petroff [C43]

The game Alekseev, E - Jakovenko, D, FIDE Grand Prix, Elista 2008, brought no surprises, and in fact repeated a number of previous games almost in full. Nevertheless, the line which occurred in the game is important and I decided to take a closer look at it since it wasn't covered in depth on the pages of Chess Publishing beforehand. I believe the first critical position arises after 13...Qc7:

Here White played 14. Qf3 and followed the drawish line from Tiviakov, S - Kramnik, V/Wijk aan Zee 2007, almost to the end. In my opinion Volokitin's idea of 16.Qg5 in the line with 14.Bh6 is the only chance to fight for an advantage.

Enjoy, Victor.

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