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This update features a special in-depth look at the 8 h3 Anti-Marshall System by IM Goh Wei Ming, while I have taken a look at a couple of subscriber's requests, the Keres System, and the Ulvestad in the Two Knights.
The talented Azerbaijian GM Gashimov is the real star of this update!

Download PGN of June '08 1 e4 e5 games

Two Knights [C56-59]

Raphael asked me to have a look at the Ulvestad variation in the Two Knights, pointing out that it has been somewhat neglected so far:

So I have had a look at Vallejo Pons, F - Naiditsch, A, and although I am certainly no expert on this line I have tried to make some sense of it in the extensive notes.

Spanish - Keres Variation [C96]

Subscriber Micah asked me about some of Nigel Davies' suggestions for Black in the Keres, and also sent me some analysis refuting one of the lines, and so I have incorporated all this into Ivanov, A - Friedel, J.

Gashimov, V - Schandorff, L features the mainline, and a move that both Olivier and I had previously analysed, 23 e5!?:

White was quickly on top here, so Black should prefer Olivier's 24...Nf6! to the move actually played.

8 h3 Anti-Marshall [C88]

IM Kevin Goh Wei Ming

In this month's update, we will take a serious look at the Anti - Marshall system with 8.h3, currently one of the most topical lines in the Ruy Lopez. After the initial moves, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Be7 7.Re1 0-0 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3:

The different strategic plans and pawn structures in this variation can be quite mind boggling but I hope with my presentation, subscribers will be able to understand a little more of this fascinating variation.

As a side-note, a good friend of mine even commented that this system is a "cowardly" attempt to avoid taking on the Marshall Attack!

As in the previous update, I will use Khalifmann's Openings for White according to Anand and Shirov's My best games in the Spanish for reference purposes.

The first set up that we would be discussing is favoured by many top GMs. After the initial moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 the move 10...Qd7 followed by the manoeuvre ..Nc6-d8-e6 is a solid system that has caused White players many headaches.

Check out Le Quang Liem-Deepan Chakkravarthy, Asian Mens' Ch Cebu 2007, for an example of how even exceptionally strong players can go down quickly without knowing the main ideas in this line:

In the above position, Black played the thematic 15...d5 and went on to win in convincing fashion.

In Modiahki - Deepan Chakkravarthy, Asian Mens' Ch Cebu 2007 (from the same tournament), White commenced central operations with 14.c3 and 15.d4, the standard method of playing the Ruy Lopez. Play continued similarly to the Ruy Open variation and the following position arrived:

In the above position, Qatar's top GM played an absolutely wonderful move that completely bemused the Indian prospect. What would you play in this position?

Despite this defeat, I think that Black is not worse from a theoretical perspective and improvements can be seen in the notes.

The Azerbaijian GM Vugar Gashimov is one of the top exponents with the 8.h3 Anti-Marshall system and just this year alone, has scored 3.5/4 with his favourite system.

In Gashimov - Miton, Tch-Fra 2008, White chose a different plan by playing on the queenside instead of the standard central attack. Black tried a bit too hard to exchange pieces and soon fell victim to a vicious tactic, seemingly out of nowhere:

After 22.Nxd6!, Black did not have an ounce of counter-play and was duly demolished.

Gashimov - Kamsky, Baku FIDE Grand Prix 2008 featured yet another novelty from Gashimov in this heavyweight clash. After 15.Bd2!?:

White followed up with b2-b4 and c2-c4, locking up the position. A tense, strategical battle ensued.

The most popular system for Black against the 8.h3 Anti-Marshall is the Chigorin-like set up with ...Na5, and ...c5.

Black has just played 13...Bc8, intending at some stage to play ...Be6, fighting for the control over the critical d5 square. The 3 main moves at this juncture are 14.Bg5, which will be investigated in this update, 14.c3 and 14.Ne3, which will be covered in subsequent updates.


Gashimov favours this move which is a good enough reason to give this move a little more attention.

In Anand - Kasimdzhanov, Leon Rapid 2005, Black replied with 14...Ne8 and Anand exchanged dark-squared bishops on e7, seemingly an innocuous approach. However, he gradually out-maneuvered his opponent and broke through with a typical Ruy Lopez piece sacrifice.

After 30.Nxc4!, the position is more or less hopeless for Black and Anand mopped up easily soon after.

In Gashimov - Ponomariov, Tch Russia 2008, Gashimov rejected the exchange of bishops after 14...Ne8 with 15.Bd2, which seemed to be a more logical continuation. After some heavyweight manoeuvering the following position appeared on the board:

Black played the incredibly natural 22...Bg5, but this lost a pawn and eventually the game.

The game Gashimov - Bacrot, FIDE Grand Prix Baku, took on a slightly different course in the opening with 14...Be6. White missed a great chance on move 34 which could have given him a perfect 4/4 score with this line:

Black has just played the horrendous blunder 33..Rb8??, which should have lost immediately after 34.Qxf7+!. The game gradually ended in a draw, but not before White had the chance to win the game with a study-like finish.

Finally, I have a forum handle: Kgwm, and if any subscribers want to get in touch with me you can send an email to You might also be interested in the review of ChessPublishing on my chess site

Many thanks to Kevin Goh Wei Ming once again, and see you next month, Tony

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