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Hello everyone,
July was a very busy month for me as I played no less than three tournaments in North America, and managed to score 2 out of 3 against 2700 players, but that was about the extent of my achievements. Well, except for some of my more interesting games, which I've annotated below.

Download PGN of July '09 1 e4 e5 games

Marshall Attack [C89]

I would like to start with a brilliant win of Peter Svidler's. Vachier Lagrave, M - Svidler, P, City of Culture GM 2009, featured an important line, and the key position arose after Black's 17...f5:

Here, instead of the main line 18.Bd1, which I would recommend that you play, the young Frenchman mistakenly inverted moves by playing 18.Re1 and soon found himself coming under a strong attack.

His subsequent move 22.Bd2 was already a decisive mistake:

In this position are you able to attack like Svidler?

A brilliant win from Svidler, which will not attract followers to the 18.Re1 retreat.

Another topical Marshall line occurred in the game Jakovenko, D - Bacrot, E, Sparkassen GM 2009. This time White played the fashionable line with 15.Qe2, which soon transposed to 15.Be3. The players followed the game Naiditsch, A - Onischuk, A Kallithea 2008 for 25 moves:

Only here Black introduced the novelty 25...h5, but didn't manage to equalise. White obtained a small, but lasting advantage, which Jakovenko managed to transform into the full point, although not without Black's help. An important theoretical battle, but White managed to prove his superiority after 25...h5. So the ball is still in Black's court.

Berlin Defence [C67]

The game Carlsen, M - Jakovenko, D Sparkassen 2009, is a good example of how a small, hardly visible, advantage can become decisive in good hands.

This popular position arose after 10.h3. Here Jakovenko tried the very rare continuation 10...h5. Soon it started to appear that Jakovenko had equalised and a draw would be agreed very soon. Probably Dmitry thought the same way, but Carlsen continued to play and his position started to improve. He exploited Black's subsequent inaccuracies without much effort and soon Black found himself in big trouble. Fantastic technique from the Norwegian super star allowed him to beat one of the World's best endgame experts from a virtually equal position. Study endgames - they turn out to be as important as the openings!

Sali, Z - Mikhalevski, V, Canadian Open 2009, saw a deviation from the Berlin endgame:

Here instead of the almost automatic 8.Qxd8 White played 8.Qe2, which came as a big surprise to me. Somehow I managed to solve the opening problems, but wasn't allowed to relax as my opponent sacrificed a piece. Fortunately Black had enough resources and created counterplay just in time. 8.Qe2 doesn't promise any opening advantage, but may occasionally serve as a surprise weapon.

Early deviations from the main lines

Sometimes White doesn't want to compete in the long theoretical lines, as in the next two games.

Hansen, E - Mikhalevski, V Canadian open 2009, saw 6.d3 instead of 6.c3, and after 14...Nd7 a Chigorin type position with the d-pawn on d3 arose:

Here White introduced the novelty 15.Bh6, but I managed to solve the opening problems and then slowly outplayed my opponent, and obtained a better knight endgame, which I won (although not without some help). The line which I chose against 6.d3 looks pretty solid and can be recommended.

The game Smirin, I - Mikhalevski, V World Open 2009, featured 5.d3, which avoids the Open variation of the Ruy Lopez. The position in the following diagram arose after the rare 10.b4, instead of the main line 10.Nf1:

Here Black's best reaction seems to be 10...b5, with the subsequent 11...a5, which I once played in a rapid game. However, instead I played the careless 10...f5, and my later 13...Nf6? was already a serious mistake. I got into a passive position and didn't managed to hold it. A good example of how a bad opening choice leads to long suffering. However the line with 10.b4 shouldn't pose Black any problems.

Petroff Defence [C43]

Who says that the Petroff is a boring opening? At least the line that occurred in the game Jakovenko, D - Kramnik, V, Sparkassen 2009, is anything but boring:

This position arose after 18...Qb6+. Here White chose the rare 19.Kh1, but Black was the first to play a novelty three moves later. Both sides played well for the first 32 moves of the game, but then they exchanged serious mistakes and eventually White managed to escape with a draw. The game indicates that the line leads to equality, however I'm sure there is still room for improvements.

Bishop's Opening [C24]

Our last game in this update is Kamsky, G - Gelfand, B, III King's Tournament 2009.

White has just played 13.Bh4, which Gelfand correctly met with 13...0-0 and solved his opening problems. Probably if White wants to set problems he should instead try either 7.Bg5 or even the main line with 6.Nc3.

See you next month, Victor.

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