Ruy Lopez: Archangel [C78]
In Game 1 in the New Archangel Variation Black tries a speculative piece sacrifice that has been the focus of attention in some quarters. Khalifman dismissed it as unsound and his analysis has more or less held water (see Karjakin-Radjabov for instance) but Godena and Ragger have just both won with 20...Nf4+ in the following position, so let's take a closer look:
Although Black won both games, White basically blundered quickly both times so the variation hasn't received the testing that it deserves. My tentative analyses suggest that White should still be on top if he's careful, but it's tricky and certainly worth a go if you fancy having some fun with Black.
Open Spanish [C83]
Games 2-4 feature the Open variation. In the first of these after 9 c3 Be7 10 a4 Nc5 we had already left known territory!
Carlsen sidesteps Morozevich's preparation with this new move in Game 2 and simply obtains the bishop pair and completes development at the cost of a pawn. Over the board Morozevich couldn't find a way to do much with the pawn and gave it back in an unconvincing manner. Later on the sharp lines after the exchange of queens are almost good for Black, but not enough to tip the balance in his favour.
In Game 3 Gashimov tried 9 c3 Be7 10 Re1 which is historically rare although there have been some recent experiences with this move at a high level:
Svetushkin playing Black didn't really handle the early middlegame well as he failed to find a convincing plan. I've given a few suggestions in the notes but the reader would be wise to compare analogous positions with the same pawn structure before deciding on what is the best approach for Black.
However Svetushkin made up for his earlier problems by giving as good as he got in a complicated final phase with two rooks against rook, bishop and knight.
Adams didn't do a great deal to win Game 4, except to stay calm and keep his pieces on sensible squares. Greenfeld improved on a recent game of Bruzon's and obtained a good opening and middlegame, the bishops proving to be adequate compensation for a very slightly inferior structure on the queenside. This seems to be important for the theory of 9 c3 Be7 10 Be3. On the evidence of this game the fairly new 14...f6 is absolutely playable because of Greenfeld's novelty on move 18:
The Israeli's first mistake was to simplify too quickly on d4 when he ended up in a slightly worse rather than equal late-middlgame. Then his play smacked of time trouble as he allowed Adams to gradually take over.
Worrall Attack [C86]
In the Worrall Variation Mamedov won a curious game against Naiditsch. My impression is that the normally very well-prepared German wasn't on this occasion!
Firstly there is the question of 11...d5?. An ambitious move that unfortunately fails to a tactical point that Andrew Greet noticed in his new book (Play the Ruy Lopez, Everyman 2006). A few years ago Magnus Carlsen also failed to play the strong move 12 g4 in reply!
Assuming that I'm not missing something, then I'll discuss the follow-up 12...d4 hoping to gain a space advantage. This idea is known in a number of lines of the Worrall, but not with the bishop already on h5 and it may be that Black's whole strategy doesn't quite fit into place. Naiditsch played actively enough but once the central tension was resolved he was just left with a duff bishop on g6 which effectively cost him the game, see Game 5.
Marshall Gambit [C89]
Games 6 and 7 feature the Marshall Gambit.
Belov made a mess of the opening in Game 6 and lost the exchange, but 9 d4 has to be taken into consideration by those who have the Marshall in their repertoire, so I've included some relevant theory. Note in particular the note to White's 13th move. Can White virtually force a draw?
In Game 7 I've had a good look at what is going on after 15 Re4 g5 16 Qf1 which has seen a number of games at the highest level in recent months:
Should Black exchange queens or keep them on?
After 16...Qxf1+ as in Grigoriants-Lalic Black defended competently and was even better at the end. Critical, however, is 21 a4 which Olivier Renet has already discussed.
The really big-ELOed Marshall players Aronian and Leko have preferred 16...Qf5 and have been able to stave off all White's attempts to gain the advantage. See the notes to Game 7. Is there anything in there for White? Keep up your subscription and you'll keep track of developments in future updates!
Breyer's Variation [C95]
Game 8 features the Breyer Variation with a virtually new strategy.
Morozevich didn't revert to the virtually automatic 14...g6 here, but came up with the novel idea 14...c6!?. Black gets on with co-ordinating his central position and avoids touching his kingside pawns for the moment. Anand didn't find any way to break down such a solid set-up and failed to get any advantage in this game, his win only resulting from the unfortunate 34...Nc5. Instead after 34...Nc7 Black would have been at least equal.
Opening ideas nowadays get to be widely known very quickly. Four days later, in a different country, Volokitin and Bacrot fought out the same variation, with the Frenchman only varying in the middlegame on move 19. He soon erred however allowing the tactical shot 22 Bxh6 which perhaps suggests that he shouldn't have played 20...h6. The purest and surest way of handling 14...c6 seems to be Morozevich's.
Chigorin - Keres Variation [C96]
In Game 9 one of the leading exponents of the Keres Variation, Alexander Graf, is in action. I've reviewed developments in Kramnik's 12 Kh1 as well as analysed this comfortable win by Black. Graf's handling of the late-opening phase is somewhat controversial but he wasn't properly tested by an out-of-sorts Enders.