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Hello everyone,
I'm now in the US on my North American tour. In this update I have tried to cover many different lines, although most of the games are from top level chess, as usual. You'll also find a few important novelties.

Download PGN of January '14 1 e4 e5 games

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Four Knights with 4.Bb5, 7...Ne7 [C49]

I would like to start with my own game Gurevich,Da-Mikhalevski,V North American Open Las Vegas 2013, where I played the line with 7...Ne7, which is gaining popularity:

My young opponent answered with 8.Bxf6, which is usually played later. I achieved a good position, but it wasn't enough for any real winning chances and the game was eventually drawn. So the ball remains in White's court, as the way White played in this game hardly sets Black any problems.

Four Knights with 4.Be2 [C47]

The game Grischuk, A - Ivanchuk, V SportAccord blitz Men 2013, saw the rare 4.Be2 line, which is not without some poison:

Ivanchuk played the passive 4...d6 and after a few inaccurate moves Black got into trouble and lost rather quickly. An opening disaster for the Ukrainian GM, while White played this game pretty well, especially for blitz. Opening-wise 4...d6 can't be recommended.

Italian Game 5.d4, 7...Nxe4 [C54]

In the recent game Harikrishna, P - Aronian, L, Tata Steel 2014, the players went for an old theoretical line, which is a rare guest at the GM level.

The players reached the above position after 13...Rxf8 by force. It might be a little more pleasant for White, but Harikrishna didn't managed to set Black any problems and the game was soon drawn. A well-played game by both players, but there are still some black holes in this line, which has been known for over 150 years.

Scotch 4...Qf6 [C45]

The game Nepomniashtchi, I - Ivanchuk, V SportAccord Basque Men 2013, saw another quick loss for the Ukrainian GM, who once again got into trouble in a rare opening line. This time it was initiated by Ivanchuk himself:

After inaccuracies on moves 7 and 9 Ivanchuk came under pressure, and by move 16th everything was over for Black - his careless opening play was duly punished. A good game from the young Russian player and an opening disaster for Ivanchuk, who didn't show his best qualities. 4...Qf6 can be played, though 6...Bb4+ and 7...a5 are already wrong. 6...Bd6 is more accurate.

Spanish - Berlin with 4...Be7 [C67]

The game Yu Ruiyuan-Malakhov,V Chinese Teams 2013, saw a pet line of the Russian GM's.

In the diagram position Black played the accurate 16...Bd7, instead of the old main line 16...d5, and equalised without any visible problems. A solid line for Black, though not everyone is happy to make a draw like this without having a single chance to win the game.

King's Gambit Accepted 3.Nf3 d5 [C36]

The game Manca, F - Dvirnyy, D 16th Padova Open 2013, saw a side line with 7...Qh5:

Usually Black retreats to d8, which looks more accurate. Already Black's 8...Bg4 was dubious and White obtained a slight edge, but couldn't convert it into a win, and after an interesting battle the game was drawn by perpetual. An interesting fighting draw, though 8...Bd6 should be preferred over 8...Bg4, or Black can go for the main line 7...Qd8.

Philidor Defence Hanham Variation with 5.Be2 Be7 6.g4 [C41]

The Georgian GM Jobava played two interesting games in the Philidor Defence. We'll start with the game Amin, B - Jobava, B Al-Ain Classic Open 2013, which featured the interesting and aggressive line 5. Be2 Be7 6.g4:

A very interesting game despite the numerous mistakes from both sides. The line with 6.g4 will remain a sharp weapon against the Hanham Variation of the Philidor, while 6...h6 can be recommended instead of 6...0-0.

Hanham Variation with 5.g4 [C41]

In the game Wieczorek, O - Jobava, B European champ rapid 2013, White played another sharp line with 5.g4:

Jobava answered it with the interesting 5...d5 and it quickly paid off as his opponent started to go astray from move 7. A quick defeat, but nevertheless an interesting game with some fireworks. However Jobava's idea 5...d5 probably works best for rapid games and blitz.


See you next month, Victor.

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