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This time we consider a wide spectrum of opening lines, some of which will rarely be repeated. A lot of good stuff!

Download PGN of January '12 1 e4 e5 games

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Zaitsev Variation [C92]

The game Caruana, F - Morozevich, A 54th Reggio Emilia 2011-12, featured a long theoretical line.

In the diagram position given above Moro chose the less explored of the lines, 19...Ne5, though White was the one to introduce a novelty with 24.Bxd3. After Black's mistake 32...Be5? White seized the initiative and by move 47 was winning. However the blunder 47.Nc7?? then led straight from a well-deserved win to a loss. A very disappointing defeat for the Italian star, who played a good game and outplayed Morozevich. Nevertheless, the opening line looks playable and leads to a complicated strategic fight.

Breyer Variation [C95]

Solodovnichenko, Y - Maiorov, N 14th Padova Open 2011, saw a rare line of the Breyer with 13.a3:

Black's interesting reaction 14...d5 led to a short tactical skirmish and ended in a roughly equal position. However, White's mistakes 26.Be3? and 27.Qxc7? then allowed Black to obtain a winning position with almost no effort. A well-played game by Maiorov, the opening line with 13.a3 is not the most dangerous weapon against the Breyer, but one has to know how to meet it.

Chigorin Variation [C96]

The 8.h3 Anti-Marshall of Dominguez, L - Karjakin, S Sportaccord WMG Blitz 2011, quickly transposed into the Chigorin Variation, where the Cuban player decided to surprise his young opponent with the rare line 12.b3 and a typical roughly equal position ensued after White's 19.Bb1:

Here, instead of the 19...b4 which was played in Dominguez Perez, L - Nakamura, H/Khanty Mansiysk 2010, Karjakin introduced the novelty 19...g6. After the inaccurate 22.Re3?! Black took the initiative, but later went astray and allowed White to attack on the kingside, which led to his decisive advantage. The rest of the game was irrelevant. The first part of the game was very interesting and proved that the line with 12.b3 doesn't promise any opening advantage. Anyway, the ball is in White's court.

Berlin Variation [C67]

The game Ivanchuk, V - Nakamura, H 54th Reggio Emilia 2011-12, featured a mistake in the early part of the game.

In the diagram position Black introduced a new move, 12...Bd7. However, after that Black then played too slowly and allowed White to seize the initiative with 20.h4. Nakamura came under pressure and never recovered from it. A well-played game by Ivanchuk, but despite Black's loss in this game Nakamura's novelty deserves further practical tests.

Schliemann/Jaenisch Defence [C63]

The game Dominuez, L - Fressinet, L Donostia KO GpA 2011-12, saw Black play a novelty in a rare line of the Jaenisch:

Now Black played 10...d5 instead of 10...Qxe2+ and equalized with some accurate moves. A well-played game by both players. Black was slightly worse throughout the game, but managed to maintain the balance. The ball is in White's court.

Scotch with 4...Bc5 [C45]

Nepomniashchi, I - Romanov, E European Rapid 2011, featured a line which is gaining popularity lately.

All the same the novelty came early, as here Ian tried the natural 11.f4. Black was up to the task for a while, but 19...Bxd4?! allowed White to obtain a comfortable advantage, which he converted into a win. A good positional squeeze from Nepomniachtchi, but nevertheless the line chosen by Black looks playable.

King's Gambit [C36]

Nakamura, H - Adams, M, London Chess Classic, saw the King's Gambit Accepted, which is rarely played at the high level.

White has just played the inaccurate 8.Kh1?!, which Adams met with an obvious, but still strong novelty 8...Nc6, and soon seized a clear advantage. After White's mistakes 30.Nh4? and 33.Kg1? Black increased his advantage to decisive, but started to return favours towards move 40 and eventually lost. Despite Black's loss this was a well-played game by Adams, who virtually refuted White's setup.

Petroff Defence [C42]

In Caruana, F - Giri, A 54th Reggio Emilia 2011-12, the young Italian GM tried to surprise his even younger opponent with the old line 7.c4. However, Black was familiar with the line, reacted well and easily equalized.

In the diagram position given above White introduced the new move 10.Nb3, but it didn't set many problems. Probably disappointed with the course of the game Caruana then committed a number of mistakes, and finally his 24.Kf1? turned out to be decisive, allowing Giri to finish the game in style:

Here he destroyed White's defence with 25...Nxf2!! and the game was over in a few moves. A big win for Anish Giri! White's opening surprise backfired and so a big question mark hangs over the entire line with 7.c4.


See you next month, Victor.

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