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Hello everyone,
I'm still on my North American summer chess tour and so I included four of my own games. The top players will make up the rest of the update. Just like last time all the games in this update are decisive, which makes it more exciting. Nepomniaschi's novelty in a well-known position in the Scotch is worth special attention.

Download PGN of July ’16 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish. The Open Variation with 9.Be3 [C83]

In the game Guddanti, H - Mikhalevski, V Philadelphia International 2016, I followed my own recommendation from the 'Open Spanish' book.

In the diagram position White played 18.Re3, which is less common than the main line 18.Re2. the position remained roughly equal, but White started to err towards the first time control and found herself in trouble. This game showed a disadvantage of the position of the rook on e3. However, the position after the opening is equal after a retreat to e2 as well.

The Open Variation with 9.Nbd2 and 13.Bb1 [C83]

The game Harikrishna, P - Ding Liren featured a popular line of the 9.Nbd2 Open Spanish.

Here the Chinese GM tried to deviate from a recent game of Giri with 19...Qc8 and obtained a reasonable position, but after his mistake 25...c5? the game started to drift to a White win. The line which occurred in this game is important for the evaluation of the whole system with 12.Nb3. Black's safest choice seems to be 19...a5, while the game's 19...Qc8 deserves attention.

The Aronian variation with 4.0-0 [C70]

Sometimes I deviate from the Open variation with 3...g6 or 4...g6. That's exactly what happened in the game Manukian, G - Mikhalevski, V Dream Nutrition Invitational II 2016.

Here my opponent introduced the interesting new idea 10.Be3, which I failed to understand in the beginning. This idea is an interesting attempt to deviate from the main line, and Black should answer it with 10...Na5.

Anti-Berlin with 4.d3 Bc5 5.Bxc6 [C65]

Carlsen always liked Anti-Berlin lines. He often chose different rare setups and this game was no exception. Thus, Carlsen, M - So, W 9th Masters Final 2016.

Magnus surprised his opponent very early, as in the diagram position he played the extremely rare move 6.Qe2 and it worked very well. By move 20 White was already much better and he was then winning on the very next move. An exemplary win from the world champion! I expect a wave of popularity for the 6.Qe2 move.

Italian. Giuoco Piano with 4.0-0 [C54]

In the game Mahoney - Mikhalevski, V World Open 2016, White tried to employ a popular plan with the a4-move.

In this already extremely rare position White played the new move 9.Nc2 (instead of 9.Bb3 from the recent game Neiksans, A - Romanov, E/Fagernes NOR 2016). However, a few inaccurate moves allowed me to seize the initiative and win the game rather convincingly. This game showed a drawback of the plan with Na3-c2: the bad position of the knight on c2 when the dark-squared bishop is on e3.

Italian. Giuoco Piano with 4.c3 and 5.d3 [C54]

I faced a similar line with 7.a4 in the game Bachmann, A - Mikhalevski, V Philadelphia International 2016.

Here White deviated from a couple of high-profile games (which featured 12.Ne3) with 12.Re1, but obtained no advantage. My play could have been improved a couple of times, and the evaluation bounced between a White edge and equality for quite a long time before I played 41...Ne5? This turned out to be a serious mistake and Black's position went downhill afterwards. An interesting game, though from the opening point of view, the line which occurred in the game shouldn't set Black many problems. 9...0-0 seems to be the most accurate move order.

Scotch with 4...Bc5 5.Nxc6 [C45]

An interesting novelty was introduced by the Russian GM in the game Nepomniachtchi, I - Ding Liren 7th Hainan Danzhou 2016.

Ian played 7.h3 and slowly but surely outplayed his strong opponent. A well-played game from the Russian GM - his novelty 7.h3 is interesting and will definitely find followers, while 7...Nf6 seems to be the critical test of White's idea.

Vienna with 3.Bc4 Nxe4 [C27]

An exciting opening line occurred in the game Nakamura, H - Harikrishna, P QF 1min blitz 2016.

Black met White's castling with 7...Nc6, when 7...e4 is more accurate and leads to easy equality. After Black's inaccuracy 11...Nf6 White obtained a slight edge, but returned the favour with the serious mistake 18.c3? and found no way back. The line with 3...Nxe4 is interesting and leads to some complications, while its objective evaluation is equality.

See you next month, Victor.

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