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Hello everyone,
We're at the very beginning of 2013, and the Tata Steel tournament in Wijk aan Zee has only just started, so I've decided to leave it till next time and deal with some lower-rated events, though two games from the recent London Classics will still be here. As usual, we'll see a lot of interesting opening ideas and great fighting games.

Download PGN of January '13 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish - Marshall Attack [C89]

In the game Polgar, J - Aronian, L 4th London Chess Clasics 2012, the players followed the game Shirov, A - Tomashevsky, E/Saratov 2011 for a long time, until they reached the following position:

Here Judith introduced a novelty 23.a4, instead of Shirov's 23.Rg4, but Black's task wasn't too difficult and the game ended in a draw pretty soon. Another dead-end in the Marshall Attack.

Chigorin Defence [C97]

The game Van Kampen, R - Ernst, S Groningen Open 2012, featured a long theoretical line in Chigorin's defence.

Here Black came with the logical move 22...a5, though already his next move looks wrong. After 27.Ne3 White claimed some edge, but in the following series of inaccuracies White was the last to err and was eventually mated. The line which occurred in the game seems to lead to a roughly equal position. Shirov's 17.Qd2 looks like a better try to fight for the advantage.

Breyer Defence [C95]

More Spanish torture took place in the game Friedel, J - Gareev, T 24th North American Open 2012.

White introduced a novelty in the diagram position, 19.b4, though it has occurred in similar positions many times. Gareev reacted well and some solid play by both players led to a well-deserved draw. Hence, the ball remains in White's court, who has to find a better setup to pose Black at least some problems.

Berlin with 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.Re1 [C67]

The game Adams, M - Kramnik, V 4th London Chess Clasics 2012, saw Black trying a rare line with 10...Re8:

Adams answered it with a novelty, 11.Nd5, but Kramnik was up to the task and equalized easily. Ponomariov's 10...Re8 looks like an interesting way to equalize. White's only chance to fight for an advantage seems to be 15.Nxf6+.

Scotch with 4...Nf6 5.Nxc6 [C45]

The following game, Robson, R - Moradiabadi, E Pan-Am Intercollegiate 2012, saw an early novelty from the Iranian GM in the diagram position:

Black played 11...Bb7. Soon White sacrificed a pawn and obtained long-term compensation, Black's task wasn't easy and eventually he collapsed under the pressure. An interesting game! Both 11...Bb7 and 11...axb3 deserve further practical tests.

Scotch Four Knights 10.h3 [C47]

The encounter Nepomniachtchi, I - Karjakin, S Piterenka Blitz 2012, featured the 10.h3 line, which started to gain popularity in the middle of last year thanks to Kramnik.

White was first to deviate from the preceding games, when he played 13.b3 in the diagram position. After the risky 16...c4 White seized the initiative and only White's later mistake and Black's tough defence helped Karjakin to save half a point. White's novelty doesn't look too dangerous for Black, although I'm sure the line with 10.h3 will gain even more popularity in 2013.

The Evans Gambit 5...Be7 [C51]

In the game Li Chao2-Hammer,J 22nd North American Open, the Chinese player introduced a logical novelty in the following diagram position:

He played 15.Bb2, but Black reacted well and was soon slightly better. The novelty 15.Bb2 doesn't look dangerous for Black, hence the ball remains in White's court.

Two Knights 8.Bd3 [C57]

The game Shankland, S - Hammer, J saw Black deviate from Kasparov's play in the blitz game Short, N - Kasparov, G Leuven 2011.

In the diagram position given above Kasparov played 13...Re8, while instead Hammer protected the e5-pawn by means of 13...f6. Both players played pretty well for the first 24 moves, but then Black started to err and stopped the clock only five moves later. Probably Black should prefer Kasparov's 13...Re8 to 13...f6.


See you next month, Victor.

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