ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Hello everyone,
The current update will be based on the final stage of the Grand Prix in Jerusalem, which saw Nepomniachtchi's brilliant win. Despite narrowly missing the candidates MVL also gave a good performance in the Israeli capital. One of his wins there demonstrates that White can still win in the Berlin Variation of the Spanish. As usual, you’ll see eight top level games here with interesting opening ideas, a diversity of opening lines and a surprising domination for the white pieces.

Download PGN of January ’20 1 e4 e5 games

>> Previous Update >>

Spanish. Anti-Marshall 8.a4 b4 9.d4 d6 10.dxe5 Nxe5 11.Nbd2 [C88]

In the game Nepomniachtchi, I - So, Wesley FIDE Grand Prix Jerusalem 2019, the players discussed an interesting line of the Anti-Marshall with 11.Nbd2, which White played instead of more popular 11.Nxe5.

White chose 11...Nxf3 in the diagram position, where the main alternative is 11...Nfd7. After the moves 12.Nxf3 Bb7 13.Qd3 Nd7 14.Be3 Bf6 15.Bd4 Bxd4 16.Qxd4 a5 Ian introduced the new move 17.h3, instead of the 17.Bd5 which occurred in a game between less well-known players. The position remained roughly equal before Black rushed with 21...Bxf3? and White obtained a serious edge. Instead of this 21...Rad8 would retain equal chances. A technical win for Nepomniachtchti, who exploited Black's inaccuracies. The 11.Nbd2 line doesn't seem to promise much, although White retains chances for some pressure.

Berlin Wall endgame 9.h3 Bd7 10.Rd1 Be7 11.g4 Nh4 12.Nxh4 Bxh4 13.Nd2 Kc8 14.Nf3 Be7 [C67]

The game Vachier Lagrave, M - Topalov, V FIDE Grand Prix Jerusalem 2019, saw the second most popular line of the Berlin with 9...Bd7.

MVL played an important move in the diagram position, 15.Bg5, instead of the more popular 15.Rd3, which we considered earlier, and which also occurred in a game between the same players a few years ago. Black continued 15...Bc5 16.Rd3 and then introduced the new move 16...b6. The only preceding game, Leko,P (2737)-Adams,M (2743) Dortmund 2014 saw 16...Be6 and Black managed to hold without big problems. In the current game, after 17.Be3 Bxe3 18.Rxe3 h6 19.Rd1, the Bulgarian GM played the inaccurate 19...c5?! and his position quickly went from equal to worse and then lost after he committed another mistake, 21...Bxf5? Topalov's 16...b6 is playable, but he had to proceed with 19...Be6! Another option for Black is to play 16...Be6, as Adams did against Leko.

Berlin Defence 4.d3 Bc5 5.Bxc6 dxc6 6.0-0 Bd6 [C65]

Our next game, Firouzja, A - Le Quang Liem World Rapid Moscow 2019, featured a line with 6...Bd6, which has just started to gain popularity:

Firouzja prepared 7.Bg5 for the tournament (7.Nbd2 is the main line) and played it in two games, including this one. After 7...h6 8.Bh6 Be6 (two days later Wang Hao preferred 8...Bg4), White played the standard, but inaccurate 9.Nbd2?! and obtained a slightly worse position. Instead he had to try 9.d4! with an edge for White.

Nevertheless, a well-played game by Firouzja. 7.Bg5 is an interesting way to set Black problems and it seems to yield White some advantage. Black needs a good idea here if he wants to play 6...Bd6, and perhaps 8...Bg4, as played by Wang Hao, deserves practical tests.

Italian. Giuoco Piano 7...h6 8.Re1 a6 9.a4 a5 10.Nbd2 Be6 11.b3 [C54]

The game Le Quang Liem - Vidit, S World Rapid Moscow 2019, saw an important line of the Giuoco Piano with 11.b3:

In the position given above Black played 11...Re8, not the most fortunate move in the position. Earlier we considered 11...d5 and 11...Ba7. After the further moves 12.Bb5 Bd7 the Vietnamese player introduced a new idea, 13.Bb2. Black’s reaction, 13...Ba7 was playable, but probably not the best (13...Ne7 looks like a better option) and a few moves later White was already clearly better. A nice win by the Vietnamese GM, Black still has problems to solve in this line and so the ball is in his court. One can try to improve Black's play in the game by means of 13...Ne7 or 14...Nb8.

Giuoco Piano 5.d4 exd4 6.e5 d5 7.Bb5 Ne4 8.cxd4 Bb6 9.Nc3 0-0 10.Be3 Bg4 11.h3 Bh5 12.Qc2 [C54]

In the game Karjakin, S- Harikrishna, P FIDE Grand Prix Jerusalem 2019, the players discussed an interesting 12th move in the diagram position:

Here Harikrishna tested 12...Ba5, instead of the more popular 12...Bg6 and 12...Nxc3 that we recently considered in our updates. Although the text has never been seen on our pages it makes sense and leads to rather forced play. So, 13.0-0 Bxf3 14.gxf3 Bxc3 (14...Nxd4 is also interesting) 15.bxc3 Qd7 16.Kh2. In the only preceding game, Anton Guijarro,D (2643)-Svane,R (2610) Skopje 2019, White preferred 16.Bxc6 and won the game, but Black’s play in that game can be improved. After the text Harikrishna came with 16...Nxd4! 17.cxd4 Qxb5 and after some accurate play the game was drawn. A short, but important game for the theory of this line. It seems that White's only chance to fight for an opening advantage is 20.Qf5 and so 12...Ba5 is an interesting alternative to the more popular lines 12...Bg6 and 12...Nxc3.

Four Knights. Rubinstein Variation 4...Nd4 5.Nxe5 [C48]

A relatively rare line was seen in the game Yu Yangyi - Wang Hao, Yinzhou Cup Ningbo 2019:

Yu Yangyi tested this dubious line, 5.Nxe5, at least twice within two weeks. In the current game Black reacted with 5...Qe7 (5...Nxb5 had been seen in Short,N (2663)-L'Ami,E (2603) Wijk aan Zee NED 2009 [Mikhalevski,V] ) 6.f4 Nxb5 7.Nxb5 d6 8.Nf3 and then 8...c6. This is inaccurate and only leads to equality, while 8...Qxe4, as in the later blitz game Yu,Y (2738)-Matlakov,M (2699) Moscow 2019, promises Black an edge. The line with 5.Nxe5 can serve as a surprise weapon in games with fast time controls, although Black obtains a slight edge if he reacts correctly with 8...Qxe4 instead of 8...c6.

Petroff Defence 3.d4 Nxe4 4.dxe5 d5 5.Nbd2 Nxd2 [C43]

The game So, W - Yu Yangyi FIDE Grand Prix Jerusalem 2019, featured the not very fashionable line with 4.dxe5.

In the diagram position White recaptured the knight with 6.Bxd2, whereas earlier we only considered 6.Qxd2. After the very logical 6...Be7 7.Bd3 c5 8.c3 Nc6 9.0-0 Bg4 10.Re1 Qd7 11.h3 Bh5 12.Bf4 Qe6 White introduced the novelty 13.Be2! and then Black played 13...0-0 14.Qd2 Bg6?! which is inaccurate and so White obtained an edge. Wesley's 13.Be2! is a good novelty, and Black should meet it with 13...Bg6. In case he castles, as in the game, he should proceed with 14...h6.

Centre Game 4.Qc4 [C22]

A very rare guest was seen in the game Wei Yi - Karjakin, S FIDE Grand Prix Jerusalem 2019, the Centre Game.

This side line scored extremely well recently. In our game Black replied just like in the main line 4.Qe3 with 4...Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Bd2 0-0 7.0-0-0 d6, however, 7...a5 looks better. Nevertheless, play was rather equal before Karjakin played the slow 11...Qe7?, which would lead to a clear edge for White, had he played 12.g4. The Centre game is a semi-correct opening, although in order to prove it Black needs time. So, it makes sense to try it once in a while in games with fast time controls. Both 7..a5 and 9...a5 look like possible improvements on Black's play in this game.


See you next month, Victor.

>> Previous Update >>

Please post your Kingpawn Opening queries on the 1 e4 e5 Forum, or subscribers can write to if you have any questions.