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Hello everyone,
First, I hope everyone is well and will remain that way.
While preparing this update I was thinking of covering some interesting opening ideas from the near past but then I decided to go for a mix of this together with Dubov’s crushing games from various online tournaments. In particular note how he treats the Vienna Game - a lot of players suffered losses to him in this opening, some of them really quick ones. If the top players can’t cope with the Vienna Game then it will surely be even more successful at lower levels?

Download PGN of June ’20 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish Open Variation 9.Nbd2 Nc5 10.c3 d4 11.Bxe6 Nxe6 12.cxd4 Ncxd4 13.a4 Bb4 14.axb5 [C80]

The game Grischuk, A - Anand, V Stavanger 2019, featured an important branch of the Open Spanish with 9.Nbd2.

Here Anand played 14...Nxf3+, which I considered to be dubious, I prefer 14...Nxb5. After 15.Nxf3 axb5 16.Rxa8 Qxa8 17.Ng5 Nxg5 18.Bxg5 he continued with the correct 18...h6. Earlier we have mostly seen this position in correspondence chess. Grischuk went for the bold 19.e6?!, but it led to simplifications and a rather quick draw. The only way to set problems is 19.Bh4. A short game, but important for the theory of the 9.Nbd2 system. I believe the assessment of 14...Nxf3 remains unchanged - White is better, although Black's position is playable.

Berlin Defence 4.d3 Bc5 5.Bxc6 dxc6 6. 0-0 Nd7 7.c3 0-0 8.d4 Bd6 9.Bg5 f6 10.Bh4 [C65]

In the game Wang Hao - Paravyan, D Gibraltar Masters 2020, the players discussed the 6.0-0 line of the Anti-Berlin system.

In the diagram position, which has been seen about 20 times, the Russian player introduced an interesting novelty, 10...c5!?, instead of the main line 10...Qe8. The game continued 11.Bg3 Qe7 and now 12.dxe5, which looks a little premature. To be fair, I couldn’t find any advantage after other continuations, either. However, Black answered with the dubious 12...fxe5?!, when after the correct 12...Bxe5! chances are equal. White obtained an advantage, but then went for the wrong piece sacrifice, 23.Rad1?, and after mutual mistakes Black won the game. An interesting game in which Black's novelty 10...c5 deserves serious attention.

Two Knights, 4.d3 h6 5.c3 [C55]

The game Karjakin, S - Dubov, D Lindores Abbey Final 8 rapid 2020, saw an early surprise from Dubov in the diagram position given below:

Here Black played 5...g5!? - a similar idea has been known after 5...d6 6.Nbd2 or 6.0-0. The text was introduced at the GM level by Emil Sutovsky. In the current game it worked really well, as the former vice-World Champion decided to ignore the idea of 6...g4 and played the dubious 6.a4?! (instead 6.d4 is necessary). So, after 6...g4 7.Nfd2 Daniil equalised with 7...d5. Later Sergey erred with 13.g3?! instead of 13.gxh3, but Dubov returned the favour, 13...Ne6? However White was the last to err and Black won. This early 5...g5 is an interesting way to force your opponent to think independently, and, moreover, it isn't even bad against White's best play.

Giuoco Piano 5.c3 0-0 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 Be7 8.Nbd2 d6 9.a4 Nh5 10.Bg3 Nxg3 11.hxg3 [C54]

In the game Topalov, V - Basso, PL Gibraltar Masters 2020, an important branch of the 6.Bg5 line occurred.

The Italian player was familiar with the diagram position and continued with Kramnik’s 11...Nb8!? transferring the knight to a better position. Topalov, who faced this position in St.Louis 2019, introduced a new move, 12.Ba2, where earlier he had played 12.0-0 (the other alternative is 12.Nf1). After the logical sequence 12...Nd7 13.d4 c6 (13...exd4 was interesting) 14.Qc2 Qc7 15.g4 Black reacted correctly with 15...c5! However, after 16.g5! he should have played 16...cxd4. Instead he went for 16...hxg5? and came under a strong attack. 12.Ba2 doesn't seem to change the assessment of the position as equal. However, 16...hxg5 is a mistake, Black has to prefer 16...cxd4.

Vienna Game 2...Nf6 3.f4 d5 4.fxe5 Nxe4 [C29]

The game Dubov, D - Tomashevsky, E RUS-ch 2017, featured a mix of the Vienna Game with the King’s Gambit.

Earlier we considered 5.Nf3 in the position given above, but Dubov preferred the less common 5.Qf3. After 5...Nxc3 6.bxc3 Black went for 6...c5!?, when instead, 6...Be7 is likely to lead to a forced draw. The game continued 7.Bb5 Nc6 8.Qg3! Qb6 - earlier this move was tested by Jan Timman and two lesser-known players, however, it still seems to me more accurate to play 8...h5!, as in one correspondence game. Daniil’s next move, 9.Rb1?!, was dubious as 9.a4!, which was played by Seul against Timman, had to be preferred. In the game Black obtained a slight edge after the moves 9...Be6 10.Nf3 0-0-0 and then slowly, but surely converted it into a full point. A very convincing win for Tomashevsky. It seems that 8...Qb6 is inaccurate, I can recommend 8...h5.

Vienna Game 2...Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Na5 [C28]

In the game Dubov, D - Ding Liren Lindores Abbey Final 8 rapid 2020, Daniil went for the line with 3.Bc4. In a later game you’ll see a different system.

Here White went for 5.Bb3, which is gaining in popularity. The Chinese player answered with 5...Bb4, when 5...Nxb3 is the main alternative. After the logical moves 6.Nf3 Nxb3 7.axb3 0-0 8.0-0 Ding introduced the novelty 8...d5!?, although in my opinion 8...d6 is more accurate. White reacted correctly with 9.Bg5! Bxc3! 10.bxc3 dxe4 11.Nxe5 and obtained a slight edge. Soon the players exchanged mistakes and later White won convincingly. A crushing victory for Dubov against a top player. After these two wins the Vienna Game may gain in popularity. 8...d5 may not fully equalise, but 8...d6 is worth a try.

Vienna Game 2...Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 [C26]

The game Dubov, D - So, Wesley Abbey Prelim rapid 2020, saw a rare line of the Vienna, 3.d4, which may transpose to the Centre Game.

The Russian player retreated his queen to d3 in the diagram position, 5.Qd3, when instead 5.Qe3 transposes to the aforementioned Centre Game. Black answered it with the rare, but interesting 5...d5. After the correct 6.Bf4! Black introduced 6...dxe4, which was new, as in the only preceding game Black played 6...Nb4. After the sequence 7.Qxd8 Nxd8 8.Bxc7 Bb4 9.0-0-0 Nc6 10.Bb5 Wesley erred, with 10...Bxc3? Most likely he miscalculated the line which occurred in the game, 11.Rd8 Ke7 12.Rxh8 Be5 and then 13.Bxc6! probably came as a cold shower for the American player. White saves his extra exchange and easily converted the material advantage into a full point. Another easy win for Dubov in the Vienna. 3.d4 and 5.Qd3 line is not without venom. 5...d5!? is reasonable, but Black should continue with 10...Bg4.

Vienna 2...Nc6 3.g3 Bc5 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.Nge2 d6 6.d3 a6 7.0-0 Be6 [C26]

The last, but definitely not least, game is Dubov, D - Nakamura, H Abbey Final 8 rapid 2020.

In the diagram position Dubov chose the side line 8.h3, which forced an immediate inaccuracy from the American player, 8...h6?! Further, after 9.Kh2 Nakamura run into a well-known trap by playing 9...d5? and after the moves 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.f4! exf4 12.Bxd5! he realized what he did, but his position was already bad. He continued with 12...Bxd5? (when 2...fxg3 was the lesser evil) and after 13.Nxf4 Black was just lost. A surprising opening disaster for Nakamura, this game shows that White's opening setup is interesting and so the ball is now in Black's court.


See you next month, Victor.

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