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Hello everyone,
This time I chose to analyse games from the 2nd London Chess Classic and added two games from the new Russian Champion, Jan Nepomniachtchi. We will not only examine the main line of the Ruy Lopez and Scotch, but thanks to Nigel Short we will also look at a line which only makes very rare appearances at the top level.

Download PGN of January '11 1 e4 e5 games

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Marshall Gambit [C89]

Recently the Marshall was out of fashion as it's becoming more and more difficult to find new ideas for White to set Black any problems. However, Nakamura found a pretty strong idea in a well-known line in Nakamura, H - Adams, M 2nd London Chess Classic:

Earlier White used to choose between the main line 17.Qxd5 and the side lines 17.Bf4 and 17.Be3 in this position. Instead Nakamura comes with 17.a4!?, but later errs on move 21. Nevertheless a very interesting fighting draw. 17.a4!? looks like an interesting novelty and I hope to see more games using this idea in the near future. White can try to improve upon his play on moves 20 or 21.

Nakamura also faced a side line of the Marshall in the game Nakamura, H - Short, N 2nd London Chess Classic:

White has just played 9.exd5, but instead of recapturing the pawn Short played 9...e4, which is a very rare alternative. Nakamura, however, shows that he has worked on the Marshall Attack very seriously and virtually refuted the whole system with 9...e4. A very well played game by Nakamura!

The Breyer Variation [C95]

Anand, V - Carlsen, M 2nd London Chess Classic. When you see this pair playing each other the Breyer is the most likely choice for both players. They have been going for the system in most of their recent encounters and each time a prepared surprise is waiting for one or other of the players.

This time, in the topical diagram position given above, Carlsen introduced the interesting novelty 15...Rc8 and a few moves later already obtained a better position. However, 24...Bxe4? started a series of mistakes which eventually led to a difficult position for Black. This wasn't Carlsen's day, but nevertheless, the opening idea, 15...Rc8, is very interesting and requires further practical tests.

The Berlin Defence [C67]

Adams, M - Howell, D 2nd London Chess Classic, saw the pet line of the Russian GM Malakhov.

Here Adams introduced the strong novelty 13.Qg3!, instead of the 13.Qh5 of Svidler, P - Malakhov, V Moscow 2010, and won by a direct attack. The final position of the game is well worth a diagram:

A must see game! Black has to look for an improvement on move 13.

A more popular line of the Berlin occurred in Anand, V - Nakamura, H 2nd London Chess Classic. Anand tried to surprise his opponent with the relatively rare 14.Rfe1, but Hikaru was prepared and introduced a novelty in the following diagram position:

He played 16...Be7 instead of 16...Bg4, where Black had previously experienced problems, and after some forced play achieved a worse but holdable endgame a pawn down. Nakamura kept his cool and drew without visible problems - great defence from Nakamura! Black proves that 16...Be7 is playable, although one has to be ready to suffer for a while.

Scotch [C45]

Nepomniachtchi, J - Tomashevsky, E 63rd ch-RUS Moscow 2010, saw Postny's recommendation in a rather popular line of the Scotch:

Instead of the common 9...Nf6 as in Morozevich,A (2750)-Leko,P (2752)/Moscow RUS 2009, Black played 9...Ne7. However, already on the next move, 10...Qxg3 looks wrong as Black came under pressure, blundered a pawn and eventually lost. Though 9...Ne7 is an interesting novelty Black has to improve upon his subsequent play.

Nepomniachtchi, J - Karjakin, S 63rd ch-RUS Moscow 2010 Playoff. Each game between these two players is anticipated with big interest. Like Anand and Carlen, who each time go for the same line of the Breyer, these two Russian stars prefer the following line of the Scotch:

Here White introduced the dubious novelty 12.Ne4?! which yielded Black the better chances. However Black's inaccuracy 14...d5 allowed White to equalise. An interesting game, but 12.Ne4 is hardly a good novelty.

Bishop's Opening [C24]

Short, N - Kramnik, V 2nd London Chess Classic brings us back to the middle of the 19th century, when the line which occurred in the game was last popular:

It is not often that you see me give a position a diagram after just two moves, but Short likes to surprise his opponents with rare lines. So this time he played 3.Qe2, which made its appearance in 1849, and after 3...Bc5 4.Nf3 they transposed to an even older game, De Labourdonnais, L - McDonnell, A/London 1834. A good game from Kramnik, who slowly outplayed his dangerous opponent. Short's play in the opening is a reasonable option for avoiding the main theoretical lines, but White can hardly hope to obtain an opening advantage with it.


See you next month, Victor.

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