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Hello everyone,
This time the opening choice is wider and includes a number of important novelties, especially in some of the more uncommon lines.

Download PGN of March '12 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish - Archangel Variation [C78]

The game Sutovsky, E - Nabaty, T Gibraltar open 2012, featured a rare, but important line of the Archangel Variation:

In the position given above Black tried to improve upon Onischuk's play in his game against Sutovsky and played 15...Re6 instead of 15...Rb8, but his next two moves turned out to be mistakes and he deservedly lost. A very convincing victory from Sutovsky who clearly out prepared his young opponent. 10.cxd4 gives Black a lot of headaches, I would be interested in seeing whether Black can defend this position.

Chigorin Variation 12...Bb7 [C97]

In the game Shirov, A - Markowski, T 2nd Ferdynanda Dziedzica Mem 2012, Black chose a rare line with 12...Bb7 and soon the following position was reached:

Here Black introduced the logical novelty 15...Nc4 and after some inaccurate play from White he obtained the advantage. Despite Black's eventual loss he seemed to obtain a playable position from the opening. Still, his opening choice appears inaccurate.

8...Rb8 [C89]

A surprising novelty was tested in Szelag, M - Naiditsch, A 2nd Ferdynanda Dziedzica Mem 2012, in the following standard diagram position:

Now instead of 8...d5, which leads to a typical Marshall position, or 8...d6, Black suddenly played 8...Rb8. Probably it's a good feeling to make a new move in a position where thousands if not millions of games were played. Nevertheless, it's hardly a good idea and White can obtain the advantage with a few simple moves, especially if followed by 9...exd4?! as here.

Schliemann/Jaenisch Gambit [C63]

Balogh, C - Pankratov, P 11th Aeroflot Open A 2012, saw an extremely rare line of the Jaenisch Defence (although I would rather call it an attack).

In this well-known position the Russian GM played his pet line, the extremely rare 5...Nge7. One of the critical moments arose after 9...Bg7, as the inaccurate 10.0-0 could have cost White the advantage. The game shows that even though the line with 5...Nge7 looks dubious it's not easy to prove White's advantage. 10.Bg5! seems to be the improvement.

Berlin Defence [C65]

Another extremely uncommon idea was tested in the game Solodovnichenko, Y - Sokolov, I 10th Nancy GMA 2012:

Now instead of taking on e4 or e5 Black suddenly played 5...Nd4, which Sokolov had actually examined in his book The Ruy Lopez Revisited ... and showed was dubious! White's 6.Ba4 turned out to be a novelty, although it was given an exclamation mark by Sokolov himself, and he soon obtained a clear advantage. Black's 13...Nh5 and 14...Qf6 only worsened the situation and soon White's advantage become decisive. After the opening catastrophe in this game the idea of 5...Nd4 will hardly find any followers.

Bishop's Opening 5.Nbd2 [C55]

In Socko, B - Bartel, M ch-POL 2012, after a relatively rare line of the Two Knights/Bishop's Opening with 5.Nbd2, the players reached a position which reminds us of Chigorin's System in the Spanish:

Black has obviously won the opening battle, White tried 16.g4, but it was answered by the interesting piece sacrifice 16...Nfxe4 when Black took hold of the initiative and won the game in good style after some inaccuracies from White. A nice win from the 2012 Polish Champion! White's setup doesn't promise any opening advantage.

Scotch 4...Nf6, 8.Nd2 [C45]

Das, A - Sasikiran, K 32nd TCh-IND 2012, featured a relatively rare idea in the 8.Nd2 line:

Here Black played Tarrash's 8...Nf4, and his subsequent improvement, 10...Qc5, waited almost 100 years to appear on the board and allowed Black to fully equalize. The 8...Nf4 line looks like a good weapon against 8.Nd2, and the ball is in White's court.

Scotch 4...Nf6, 9...Bb7 [C45]

In the game Sjugirov, S - Sasikiran, K 11th Aeroflot Open A 2012, Black tested the popular line with 9...Bb7.

In this position, which occurred after 11.0-0-0, Black introduced the novelty 11...Kb8, which initiated some interesting play. Black was the first to err on the 18th move, with 18...Rg8, and could have found himself in trouble, but White soon returned the favour and Black eventually outplayed his opponent in a long endgame. After some good play in the opening Black committed two mistakes and got into trouble, but I'm expecting more games in this interesting line as 11...Kb8 deserves further practical tests.


See you next month, Victor.

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