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Hello everyone,
This month I decided to make a broader sweep and cover a really wide selection of different lines and openings, while only considering quality games played between top GMs!

Download PGN of June '11 1 e4 e5 games

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Marshall Gambit [C89]

Saric,Iv-Melkumyan,H 41st Bosna Open 2011.

In the diagram position given above White introduced a new idea, 24.Qd2, instead of 24.Bd2 as in Svidler, P - Aronian, L Morelia/Linares 2007. Black defended pretty well for a while, but already his first mistake left him in a difficult position, which he eventually lost. An important game for the theory of the Marshall attack. However, I believe that Black should be able to hold a draw with some accurate play.

Berlin Defence [C67]

The following position occurred twice in the recent Houdini-Rybka4 match where each of the programs tested this position with both colors:

Instead in the Nakamura, H - Ponomariov, R, Classical match Saint Louis 2011, Ponomariov played the novelty 11...a5, rather than the computers' 11...c5 and 11...Be7, and was soon on top, although Nakamura saved the game with resourceful defense. White can improve upon his play on move 20, but it may only help to keep the balance. In general, Black has successfully solved his opening problems, and the ball is in White's court.

Anti-Berlin 4.d3 [C65]

The following roughly equal position is from Radjabov, T - Kramnik, V, Wch Candidate matches(9) 2011:

Here White introduced a small novelty, 14.Bb3 instead of the 14.d4 from Karjakin, S - Jakovenko, D, Odessa 2010. A well played game from Radjabov who outplayed Kramnik from a roughly equal middlegame position. If you're tired of the Berlin endgame then you can always play 4.d3 like this and try to outplay your opponent from an equal position with all the pieces on the board.

Scotch 4...Bb4+ [C45]

Nepomniachtchi, I - Najer, E, ch-RUS rapid 2011.

White has just played Kasparov's 7.Qg4, which Black usually meets with 7...Qf6. Instead, Najer came up with an extremely rare, but as it turns out strong idea. He played 7...Nf6 and after 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qh6 introduced the powerful novelty 9...d5! In a few moves it was White who started to fight for equality, but as usual he was very resourceful. Just one move away from a big advantage Black started to err and eventually even lost the game. Anyway, an extremely interesting fighting game, in which both players where up to the task and it was only because of the game format (rapid chess) that there were mistakes towards the end. Nevertheless, Black's opening novelty 9...d5! looks strong and seems to offer Black equal chances.

Italian Game [C54]

In this already very uncommon position from Ivanchuk, V - Navara, D, 46th Capablanca mem Elite 2011, instead of 15...Nxc4 Black introduced the new move 15...Qf6:

Navara was under some pressure throughout the game, but defended well and held the draw. Even though the opening line chosen by Ivanchuk is rather equal Black has to be very careful not to come under pressure.

Four Knights [C49]

We have seen 7...Ne7 quite a bit just recently.

In Vallejo Pons,F-Granda Zuniga,J, I Bahia Feliz GM 2011, Vallejo went for the extremely rare 9.Ne2 here (instead of the main line 9.Nh4). Black reacted naturally and well and obtained a good position. The kingside pressure was strong and White blundered, allowing several strong tactical blows and soon had to resign. A good game from the Peruvian GM, which seems to show that White's opening plan doesn't set Black any problems.

King's Gambit [C34]

The King's Gambit is a rare guest at the top level, but somehow Shirov's choice of it doesn't surprise me.

Here, in Shirov, A - Alekseev, E, 3rd Lublin GM 2011, Black has just played 7...g4, which Shirov met with the novelty 8.Rg1! and after Alekseev's inaccurate reply 8...Kf8 he sacrificed a piece with the typical (for this line) 9.Be3 and obtained a promising position. A spectacular game with many mutual mistakes. The setup Black chose against the King's Gambit in this game doesn't promising full equality, so I can recommend 3...g5.

Petroff [C42]

This position, from Ni Hua-Wang Yue, 2nd GM Danzhou 2011, is an important crossroads for one of the main lines:

Here White played Movsesian's 21.h5, which is known to lead to equality. 21.Nh3 is a more aggressive attempt to play for a win, but Black has already found ways to deal with this move as well. It turned out that Ni Hua was happy with a draw as he followed the game Radjabov,T-Wang Yue, Bazna Kings 2010, right to the very end. Obviously, this game hasen't changed the evaluation of Movsesian's 21.h5 line as being drawish.


See you next month, Victor.

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