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Hello everyone,
This time I couldn't ignore the exciting World Rapid Championships in Doha, to which I have added three of my own games.

Download PGN of January ’17 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish. Anti-Marshall with 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 [C88]

I would like to start this update with the game Steinberg, N - Mikhalevski, V ISR-ch 2016.

The first critical position of the game, at least for me, as I couldn't remember how to continue and had to calculate the lines over the board. I reacted with 15...Bxd2, which seems to be inaccurate. After a rather forced sequence my opponent went astray with 20.Ne4? and I was fine again. A very interesting game. The analysis proves that Black can equalise in the line with 12.c4 if he follows Kasimdzhanov's 15...exd4.

Spanish. Anti-Marshall with 8.a4 b4 9.d4 [C88]

My next example is the game Dominguez, L - Aronian, L World Rapid Doha 2016. In Dominguez's pet line with 12.Qe2 Qe7 13.h3 the players reached the following diagram position:

Here Levon introduced the logical novelty 13...Rd8, deviating from earlier games involving the Cuban GM, which saw 13...Na5 and 13...h6.

On the very next move Aronian initiated some complications with 14...Nd4 and the position remained equal before he overestimated his chances and played 22...e3? giving up a pawn but obtaining no compensation for it. Then the game went downhill rather quickly. A short, but interesting game, where Black's novelty 13...Rd8 deserves attention, but 14...h6 is safer than 14...Nd4.

Spanish with 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 Be7 [C84]

In the game Inarkiev, E - Bu Xiangzhi World Rapid Doha 2016, the players transposed into the Spanish with 6.d3 after 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bb7 7.d3 Be7.

Here, after 10...0-0, Inarkiev deviated from his 2011 game, where he played 11.Ng3, with 11.a5, but Black was ready for it and reacted correctly with 11...d5. However, his 13...Nf4?! was inaccurate and allowed White to obtain an edge with 14.d4. Instead Ernesto played 14.Re1? and got crushed after 14...Nxg2! A spectacular win for the Chinese GM. White should prefer either 11.Ng3 or 9.a3, while Black could improve his play with 13...Kh8.

Spanish. The Aronian System with 9...Nf6 [C70]

The rapid game Boruchovsky, A - Mikhalevski, V Feldklein memorial 2016, saw a repetition of my recent game against M Hansen.

White played 13.a3 instead of the 13.Bf4 in the aforementioned game. My 14...Nc4?! was premature and could give White an edge had he reacted with 15.Nd2. Instead, after 15.b3?! Black was fine and eventually the game was drawn after an interesting tactical fight. The idea of 9...Nf6 is interesting and deserves further practical tests.

Italian with 6.a4 d6 7.h3 Ba7 8.c3 0-0 [C54]

In the game Nepomniachtchi, I - Fressinet, L World Rapid Doha 2016, White deviated from his game against Wesley So in Baku, which featured 9.Re1, with 9.Bg5 and after 9...h6 10.Bh4 we reach the diagram position:

Here the French GM accepted the challenge with 10...g5, and in reply the Russian sacrificed a piece by 11.Nxg5. A very interesting game despite the numerous mistakes from both sides. This indicates how complicated the task of the defender is, as one inaccurate move changes the assessment of the position drastically. However, the objective assessment of the sacrifice on g5 is that Black is better.

Italian with 6.a4 a5 [C54]

Another game of the Russian's, Nepomniachtchi, I - Aronian, L World Rapid Doha 2016, saw an extremely rare line with 6...a5, which was introduced at the top level by Levon only a few weeks earlier.

Here White deviated from the aforementioned game, which featured 13.Ne4 and led to a good position for Black, with 13.Bxc6, although a few moves later Black was already better once again. Another interesting fighting game. The opening line with 6...a5 which was chosen by Aronian is very interesting and seems to promise Black equal chances. So, the ball is now in White's court.

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

The game Yu Yangui - Dominguez, L World Rapid Doha 2016, featured a rather rare line of the 4...Nf6 Scotch with 11.Bd2, instead of 11.Bd3.

In this position the Chinese player introduced the novelty 15.Bxd5, instead of 15.0-0-0 which was played in all the preceding games, and after 15...cxd5 16.0-0-0 0-0?! obtained an edge with 17.Nxd5. A great positional win for the Chinese GM, but nevertheless, it has to be said that Black should be able to equalise after 15.Bxd5 if he opts for 16...d4!

Centre Game with 4...g6 [C22]

Finally, I want to show you the game Taichman, O - Mikhalevski, V Israeli championship, Tiberias 2016, in the pretty rare (these days) Centre Game.

After facing the novelty 10.Qf4! I reacted pretty well with 10...Nc6!? and after the inaccurate 11.g4?! d5! soon obtained the better chances. Although the game went on for a very long time and I missed a few forced wins, I was mostly in control. Still, a difficult win, which could have been much easier had I played more precisely after reaching a winning position. The Centre Game should mostly serve as a surprise weapon and shouldn't be applied on a regular basis.

See you next month, Victor.

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