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Hello everyone,
First of all I want to apologize for the slight delay with this update, which was caused by my participation in the European Individual Championship in Budva.
Second, this time I had so many games to choose from, as Linares, Amber and many more tournaments had just finished, that I had a hard time picking. Anyway, I have made my choice, including two of my own games, and as usual the Ruy Lopez is the main topic of this update, but you'll also find the Petroff.

Download PGN of March '09 1 e4 e5 games

Berlin Defence with 4...Bc5 [C65]

I'll start with the World Chess Challenge 2009 this time. In the second game of the Kamsky - Topalov match the following crazy position appeared on the board after just 7 moves:

Here Topalov chose a move which was introduced in the sixties and almost never tested at the GM level, 7...Qe7. Kamsky answered with a side line 8.dxc5 and seemed to obtain the initiative. However already on the 16th and 17th moves he committed two serious mistakes. Though Topalov returned the favour the initiative was already with Black and Topalov converted his advantage to a win, albeit not without some help from Kamsky.

Although Black's position looked dangerous at several points it's not easy to indicate a concrete refutation or even a line which leads to White's advantage. So 7...Qe7 deserves further tests, while its wild character promises a lot of fascinating future games.

Anti-Marshall [C88]

Although Kamsky is known for his solid approach, he has played a number of wild games recently. The game Kamsky, G - Anand, V, 18th Amber Blindfold 2009, saw an unusual, but theoretical position early in the game:

Black has just played 11...c5, which Kamsky met with the interesting novelty 12.Qc3, instead of 12.Qd1. After a series of complications the game reached a bishop endgame with an extra pawn for Kamsky, but Anand made a draw thanks to the opposite-colour bishops.

A very interesting game - Kamsky's opening idea definitely deserves more practical tests.

Open Variation [C82-3]

I played three game with the Open Variation of the Ruy Lopez in the European Individual Championship 2009. All of these games featured the most popular system with 9.Nbd2, and I want to look at two of them here.

First, Spoelman, W - Mikhalevski, V, Budva 2009 (5th round), saw the line with 9...Nc5, and the following position arose after White's 15.Nf5:

Here instead of 15...0-0 I played 15...Ne6?!, and after 16.a4! committed a well-known mistake, 16...0-0?, which allowed White to win a pawn. Thanks to a tough defense I managed to escape with a draw, but the conclusion is obvious: one shouldn't underestimate the classical heritage!

Instead, in the game Timofeev, A - Mikhalevski, V, Budva 2009 (7th round), I played the popular line with 9...Be7, and this well-known position was reached after 12...Qd7:

Here my opponent surprised me with the rare line 13.Re1, instead of the usual 13.Nfd4. I think I found a good defence and after my 18th move the position was already equal. Timofeev suddenly sacrificed a pawn, which he considered poisonous, but after I accepted the pawn he realised that he has no compensation for it, and started a series of strong moves. Although I came close to a win White managed to escape with a draw. Even though the opening went well for Black the line with 13.Re1 deserves further tests.

Zaitsev Variation [C92]

The Zaitsev system is really becoming fashionable again, and the fourth game of the Kamsky - Topalov match 2009, is an additional confirmation of this.

In this, the initial position of the Zaitsev system, White has a big choice of lines, and Kamsky chose the aggressive, and yet at the same time less-explored line 12.Ng5. Kamsky strengthened the pressure move by move and eventually Topalov collapsed under the wieght. A great positional achievement from the American grandmaster, which is especially noteworthy against the World's top rated player! The line with 12.Ng5 deserves more practical tests at the highest levels.

The Breyer Variation [C95]

Likewise the Breyer Variation is currently very popular, which results in many games in the top tournaments, and I've chosen two games for this update.

First, Karjakin, S - Kamsky, G, 18th Amber Rapid 2009, where the following popular position arose after 14...g6:

Now, instead of the fashionable 15.b3 or the old main line 15.a4, Karjakin played 15.Bg5, which was introduced at the top level by Spassky and was then picked up by Fischer in his return match against Spassky in 1992. After two inaccuracies on moves 22 and 23 Kamsky was outplayed in his own style. The opening line with Bg5 is rather poisonous and I'm expecting more games at the top level.

Another annoying line for Black, with 13.a4 instead of 13.Nf1 occurred in the game Anand, V - Leko, P, 18th Amber Blindfold 2009.

In this typical position for the Breyer Variation Black played the novelty, 18...Rac8. Vishy reacted correctly with 19.Bb2 and exploited Black's inaccuracies on moves 20 and 21 to put Black under serious positional pressure. A brilliant win from the World Champion, which is especially impressive as the game was played without sight of the board. Nevertheless, nothing serious happened to the opening line, and Black doesn't need major improvements. I believe 20...Nf4 is good enough to continue playing this line as Black, though Black's positions are not to everyone's taste.

Petroff Defence [C42]

Although the Petroff has a reputation for being a drawish opening it often sees great fights and valuable novelties. Welcome to the game Grischuk, A - Ivanchuk, V, Linares 2009.

In this very new position, which was reached after 18.Bf1, Ivanchuk came with the strong novelty 18...Bd6! (instead of 18...Bf6 which was played in Jakovenko, D - Fridman, D, Dresden 2008), and solved his opening problems. Soon it was White who had to fight for equality and in the final position Ivanchuk could even play on if he hadn't allowed a three-fold repetition.

17.g4 doesn't look like a way to create problems for Black. Ivanchuk's reaction was correct and allowed him to at least equalise.

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.