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Hello everyone,
A lot of top tournaments this month and also a lot of interesting opening ideas. If last time I mostly focused on the Giuoco Piano, this time you’re going to see five games in different Spanish systems, one Scotch and a couple of games in the Giuoco Piano.

Download PGN of July ’17 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish. The Open variation 9.Qe2 Nc5 [C81]

The game Caruana, F - Mamedyarov, S GCT Rapid Paris 2017, saw a line with 9...Nc5, which is gaining in popularity:

In the diagram position Caruana played 10.Nc3, which had only one predecessor, an old correspondence game Luna - Campos /corr 1975. However, his 13.h3?! was already inaccurate and could have been exploited by means of 13...f6! 10.Nc3 doesn't seem to set problems and so White should come back to the main line, 10.Rd1.

Spanish. The Open variation 9.c3 Be7 10.Bf4 [C83]

Another game from the Azeri GM, Grischuk, A - Mamedyarov, S GCT Rapid Paris 2017, saw another rare line.

In the rare diagram position Black started to go astray with 11...Na5?!, and 12...Nxb3?! As a result of poor opening play Black already experienced serious problems after 16.Nd2. A very well played game by Grischuk, the line with 10.Bf4 is interesting and requires further practical tests. In any case, Black should meet 11.Nd4 with 10...Qd7.

Spanish. The Aronian System 5.c3 Bg7 6.0-0 Nge7 7.d4 exd4 8.cxd4 b5 9.Bb3 d6 10.h3 0-0 11.Nc3 Na5 12.Bc2 c5 [C60]

In the game Zoler, D - Mikhalevski, V Huber memorial rapid 2017, the players followed the game Kosteniuk,A-Aronian,L Moscow 2009 for the first 14 moves and reached the following diagram position:

Here I deviated from the aforementioned game with 14...Qxd1 and after 15.Raxd1 Nec6 16.Be3 a draw was agreed in the game Ansell,S-Kosten,A 4NCL 2011. Instead, I continued with 16...Nc4 and the position remained equal before I committed a mistake, 23...Nd7?, but Zoler returned the favour with 24.Bd6? and was later outplayed in the tactical complications. The opening line White chose in this game doesn't seem to promise much and so the ball is in White's court.

Spanish. The Berlin Wall with 9.h3 [C67]

It’s not easy to surprise your opponent in the Berlin as early as the 9th move, but in the game Li Chao - Fedoseev, V 11th World Teams 2017, Black did just that.

The young Russian GM played 9...Bc5 instead of the numerous deeply-studied alternatives. White reacted reasonably with 10.Nc3 Be6 11.b3 Kc8 12.Rd1, which led to a sudden mistake from Fedoseev. He played 12...b6?! and soon his dark-squared bishop was exchanged and White obtained a comfortable edge. A nice squeeze by the Chinese GM. Nevertheless, it doesn't mean that Black's opening idea was refuted, 9...Bc5 is playable, but 12...b6 looks dubious.

Spanish. Anti-Berlin with 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 d5 [C65]

The game Vachier Lagrave, M - Kramnik, V Norway Chess 2017, featured the popular line with 5...d5. The players followed the game Caruana,F-Xiong,J Saint Louis USA 2017 [Mikhalevski,V] and reached the diagram position given below:

Here Kramnik prepared the logical novelty 12...Bf5. Both players played well and after 23.cxb4 the position remained equal. However, Black’s 23...Rfd8?! was dubious, but White returned the favour with 24.Bb2?!, however, then Black erred again with 34...Bd6? and found himself in a dangerous rook endgame, which he couldn’t hold. An interesting fighting game, which came from an interesting opening idea. 12...Bf5 promises Black good drawing chances and so I'll be interested to see how White improves on Maxime's play in this game.

Scotch with 4...Nf6. The endgame tabia with 9.b3 and 10.g3 Bg7 11.Bb2 0-0 [C45]

The game Nepomniachtchi, I - Ding Liren 11th World Teams 2017, saw an interesting theoretical endgame with two minor pieces versus rook and two pawns.

In the well-known diagram position Ian played 18.Na3, a surprising but interesting novelty, as usually White develops the knight to c3. A great fight and virtually mistake free, in which both players showed their best endgame skills. The assessment of this theoretical endgame withstands the test - the position is equal.

Italian. The Classical Giuoco Piano with 8...Re8 9.h3 h6 10.Nbd2 Be6 [C50]

The game So, W - Carlsen, M GCT Rapid Paris 2017, saw an interesting version of the Classical Giuoco Piano with the dark-squared bishop on c5.

In the diagram position the World Champion played 12...d5, created favourable tension in the centre, and after 13.Be3 Bf8 first equalised and then started to outplay his opponent with extremely strong and precise play. A well-played game by Carlsen, both 8...Re8 and 11...Bxb3 are interesting. White can try to test Black's 8th move with 9.Bg5.

Italian. The Modern Giuoco Piano with 7.Re1 Be7 8.a4 0-0 9.h3 Ne7 [C54]

Last, but definitely not least, the encounter between two world champions Kramnik, V - Carlsen, M Norway Chess 2017, is yours to enjoy.

In the popular diagram position Kramnik played 12.Bd3, which has only been seen once, in the game Sjugirov,S (2660)-Eliseev,U (2606) St Petersburg 2016. The current world champion reacted with 12...Re8?!, which turned out to be too slow. Vlad played 13.Bc2! and seized an edge, which he converted it into a full point after a very interesting fight with a lot of fireworks. A very well played game by Kramnik! The opening idea 12.Bd3 forces Black to play 12...Nh5, which Carlsen failed to realise. I expect more practical tests of this line.

See you next month, Victor.

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