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Hello everyone,
As in the previous update this time I also decided to cover a wider variety of openings and paid less attention to the main lines of the Ruy Lopez, which were covered extensively in the past.

Download PGN of June '09 1 e4 e5 games

The Open Variation [C80-83]

Let's start with my favourite line against the Spanish. The game Shirov, A - Ivanchuk, A, 5th MTel Masters featured a rare line with 10.Re1. See the following diagram:

An important game for theory - from a seemingly equal position Shirov managed to outplay Ivanchuk, showing very good technique. The ball is on Black's side, while the critical moment seems to be Black's 16th move.

I also want to share with you one of my own games, Smirin, I - Mikhalevski, V, ISR-Tch 2009, which saw the 11.Qe2 line instead of 11.Bc2. The following position was reached after 12.Nd4:

Here, instead of 12...Nxb3, which was played by big guns like Tartakower, Euwe, Keres, Korchnoi and Leko, I played 12...Qd7 and managed to equalise without many problems. Does it mean that 11.Qe2 promises no advantage? Maybe, anyway White needs a good idea to prove his superiority.

The Exchange Variation [C69]

In Ivanchuk, V - Navara, D, Cez Trophy Rapid 2009, the Czech GM played the rare line 5...Qf6, and an important position for this line arose after 11.Ne2:

Here Black introduced the novelty 11...b6, which wasn't enough to equalise. Probably Black has to fight for equality by means of the approved 11...Be6.

The Berlin Defence [C67]

Grischuk, A - Eljanov, P 3rd ACP World Rapid Cup 2009, featured a relatively rare line of the Berlin, 13...c5, which was mainly advocated by the Polish GM Grabarczyk. The novelty came pretty late, in the following diagram position, which arose after 22...Ng6:

Here Grischuk played 23.Nxe6 fxe6 24. g3 offering to transpose into Socko-Kharlov, Batumi 2002 after 24...c4. However, Eljanov preferred 24...Bh6?! but didn't manage to save the game. White's position in this line is slightly better, but the game didn't answer the question of whether Black is able to hold. I think Black will try to defend the position after 24.g3 again in the future.

Scotch [C45]

The game Naiditsch, A - Jakovenko, D 3rd ACP World Rapid Cup 2009, followed Naiditsch, A - Carlsen, M, Khanty Mansiysk 2007, up to 11...d5?

Here White played the strong novelty 12.Nf5!, which simply refutes 11...d5? A very rare case of such an obvious mistake occurring so early in the opening. 11...Ng4 has to be played.

Italian Game [C54]

Radjabov, T - Shirov, A, AZE vs World rapid 2009, featured the Italian, which is a rare guest at these elite events, though Radjabov has started to play it rather often recently.

In this position, which was reached after 7.Qe2, Shirov introduced the novelty 7...a5. After interesting fighting chess a draw was forced by perpetual check. Black's idea deserves further tests.

Petroff Defence [C43]

The game Guseinov, G - Kramnik, V AZE vs World rapid 2009, followed the recent game Anand-Kramnik, Nice 2009, up to the following position, which arose after 14...Rfd8:

Guseinov played 15.Qg5 here, instead of Anand's 15.h4, which Kramnik answered with the novelty 15...Bxh2+ (instead of the 15...Qxc3 that occurred in Rublevsky, S - Volokitin, A, Pojkovsky 2008). Surprised by Black's novelty White committed a number of inaccuracies (on moves 19-21) and soon had to defend an unpleasant rook endgame. It seems that 17.Qg5 doesn't pose Black any problems.

The Glek System [C46]

Harikrishna, P - Eljanov, P Bosna 2009, featured the interesting system with 5.g3, mainly developed by Russian GM Glek, which is rather unusual at the high level.

In this position after 6.d3 Black played the rare move 6...Nd4 and equalised surprisingly easy. Moreover, after 15.g4?! White was even on the defensive and eventually only saved the game thanks to heroic defence. Eljanov's novelty is interesting and deserves further tests. The ball is now in White's court.

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.