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Hello everyone,
In this update I’ll focus on new ideas from the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow. As usual the top openings are the Spanish and the Italian and so we’ll see no less than three games in the former and four in the latter. It’s curious that the Open Spanish gains some attention with two games in the current update.

Download PGN of June ’19 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish, Breyer Variation 13.Nf1 Bf8 14.Ng3 g6 15.a4 c5 16.d5 c4 17.Bg5 [C95]

In our first game, Vachier Lagrave, M - Amin, B TCh-FRA Top 12, we will explore a pretty rare line in the main position of the Breyer.

Instead of the main line 17...h6 the Egyptian GM played 17...Nc5 in the diagram position, and MVL also deviated from 18.Qd2 in favour of the less popular 18.Nh2. The subsequent play was rather logical, although with some edge for White, before Black played 28...Bg7?!, and after the precise 29.Qf2! and 30.Be3! Amin started to experience serious difficulties and eventually lost. Exemplary play from the French GM, which underlines Black's problems in the 17...Nc5 line. Probably 20...Nfd7 is a better try than 20...Nh7, if Black wants to play the line with 17...Nc5.

Spanish, Open Variation 9.Nbd2 Be7 10.c3 0-0 11.Bc2 f5 12.exf6 Nxf6 [C83]

The game Nepomniachtchi, I - Wei Yi FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019, saw the innocent looking line with 12.exf6, although the game proved that it’s not without venom.

In the well-known diagram position White played 13.Re1, instead of the common 13.Nb3, and after 13...Qd7 (13...Bg4!?) introduced an interesting novelty, 14.a4, in a rather rare position. The Chinese GM reacted with the typical, but nevertheless dubious 14...Bf5?! but White took advantage of the weakened queenside by means of 15.Bxf5 Qxf5 16.axb5 axb5 17.Rxa8 Qxa8 18,Nf1 and obtained a clear edge. This game demonstrated that the line with 12.exf6 is not without venom and I'm expecting more practical tests at the top level.

Open Spanish 12.Nb3 Qd7 13.Nfd4 Nxd4 14.Nxd4 c5 [C83]

Instead of the preceding game's 12.exf6, our next game, Svidler, P - Vitiugov, N FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019, saw the main line with 12.Nb3.

The most common move in the position given above is 15.Nxe6, but Peter deviated with the interesting 15.Ne2. After the natural 15...Rad8 Svidler reacted with 16.f3, which has only been seen in one correspondence game (earlier White tested 16.Nf4). Black continued with 16...Ng5 and after 17.Be3 d4 18.cxd4 deviated from the aforementioned game with 18...cxd4 instead of 18...Bc4!? White was the first to err with 20.Bxg5?!. Instead 20.Kh1 was better, and would transpose to the game, while avoiding 20...Qxd4!, which would just equalize. However, Vitiugov returned the favour by 20...Bxd4?! and with some precise play White obtained an edge and then converted it into a win. 15.Ne2 and 16.f3 is an interesting way to deviate from the main line 15.Nxe6 and deserves more practical tests.

Italian, Giuoco Piano 5.c3 d6 6.a4 a6 7.h3 Ba7 8.0-0 h6 9.Re1 0-0 10.Nbd2 Re8 11.b4 [C54]

The game Nepomniachtchi, I - Grischuk, A FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019, featured the 11.b4 line, which is gaining in popularity:

Black answered with the logical 11...Be6 12.Bxe6 Rxe6, when Ian played the most popular 13.Qc2. Alex was familiar with the position and continued correctly with 13...Qd7 14.Nc4 d5, but after 15.exd5 Qxd5 16.Ne3 he committed a serious mistake by 16...Qd7? and eventually lost. A well-played game by Nepomniachtchi, 16...Bxe3 is a must for Black in this line, while 16...Qd7? leads to an unpleasant position.

Italian 11.Qb3 (instead of 11.b4) Qe7 12.a5 [C50]

In the Nakamura, H - Grischuk, A FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019, White preferred the rare 11.Qb3.

In the diagram position after 12.a5 the Russian GM introduced a strong novelty, 12...b5!, instead of the 12...Rb8, 12...Nd8 or 12...Nh5, which had been seen in previous games. Both players were precise and after the moves 13.axb6 cxb6 14.Bd5! Qc7! Nakamura went for a pawn grab, 15.Qc4, which gave his opponent compensation. Grischuk was the first to go astray with 19...Rac8?!, which started a series of two consecutive inaccuracies from both sides. Instead Alex had to prefer 19...Qb6!, which promised compensation for the pawn. Black introduced an important novelty, 12...b5, which seems to equalise the position, so probably White should deviate from the 11.Qb3 line.

Italian, Giuoco Piano 6.0-0 0-0 7.Re1 a5 8.Nbd2 Be6 9.Bb5 [C54]

The game So, W - Duda, J FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019, saw another branch of the Giuoco Piano:

Here the Polish GM played the rare 9...Ne7 in the diagram position, instead of the main line 9...Qb8. White’s next move, 10.d4, was already a novelty, and Black answered with 10...Ba7 11.Nf1 Ng6 12.Ng3 c6 13.Bd3, when the players reached a typical Giuoco Piano position in which White was the first to create tension in the centre with d4. The slightly inaccurate 13...a4 (13...Bg4 was more precise) allowed White to fight for an edge, but Black’s position remained playable up to the moment he played 20...Bxf5? Starting from here it went downhill, aeven though White was a little imprecise.

Despite the result 9...Ne7 is playable as Black retained roughly equal chances for the first 19 moves, but his 20...Bxf5? led to a clear edge for White. Instead, 20...d5 was necessary and would retain equal chances, and 13...Bg4! also looks like an improvement.

Italian, Giuoco Piano 5...0-0 6.0-0 d5 7.exd5 Nxd5 8.a4 a6 9.Re1 Bg4 [C54]

Another game from the same players, but this time with opposite colours, Duda, J - So, W FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019, featured a concrete line of the quiet Giuoco Piano system with 6...d5.

In the position given above Duda played 10.Nbd2, delaying 10.h3. Black’s reaction 10...Kh8?! was inaccurate, and after 11.h3 Bh5 12.Ne4 the natural 12...Ba7?! was also inaccurate. Instead, 12...Be7 was better, retaining a worse, but playable position. In the game Black lost a pawn and didn’t obtain enough counterplay. A surprisingly easy win for the young Polish player, 10...Kh8?! is an unfortunate move which leads to White's advantage, so instead 10...Nb6 has to be preferred.

Reversed Philidor 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.exd5 [C44]

A rather uncommon position occurred in the game Grischuk, A -Nepomniachtchi, I FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019.

It all started as a Petroff, but Alex deviated from the main lines with 3.d3 and soon the players found themselves in a sort of Reversed Philidor Opening. In the diagram position Black usually recaptures with the knight, but Ian had different plans and played 5...Qxd5. After 6.Bg2 (6.Nc3 is also interesting) 6...Bg4! 7.h3 Nepo played 7...Bxf3?!, which looks too optimistic. 7...Be6 would be preferable and led to a roughly equal position. In the game Black came under some pressure, but managed to hold with some precise play. 8.Bxf3 would probably set more problems, but the endgame which ensued in the game is also pleasant for White. So, 5...Qxd5 is playable, but should be followed by 7...Be6.


See you next month, Victor.

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