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Hello everyone,
I keep actively playing in the strong open tournaments. This time it was the extremely strong European Individual Championship, which took place in Jerusalem, Israel. Unfortunately, playing at home didn't help me make a good result, but I played a few interesting games, which I'm happy to share with you... You'll see a wide variety of openings, including some very old, but nevertheless important ones.

Download PGN of March '15 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish. The Aronian variation with 8.Bc2 [C70]

The game Zhigalko, S - Mikhalevski, V 16th European Championship 2015, saw a repetition of Sergey's brother's game for the first 14 moves before we reached the following diagram position:

Here White introduced the interesting novelty 15.Be3. My reaction was faulty and White obtained some advantage. However, he misplayed the position in time trouble and I managed to equalise. An interesting fighting game, while the opening line is rather risky for Black.

Spanish. The Berlin with 5.Re1 [C67]

In the game Aronian, L - Anand, V 4th Zurich CC 2015, White played a quiet line with 5.Re1.

Here Aronian deviated from the preceding games with 14.f3, and completely outplayed Anand. A well-played game by Aronian, the line which occurred in the game is not as innocent as it may appear.

Four Knights with 4.g3 [C47]

A transposition from the Vienna game into the Four Knights with 4.g3 occurred in the game Mamedyarov, S - Fridman, D Vladimir Petrov Memorial 2015. The players followed a recent game of Mamedyarov for the first 14 moves and reached the diagram position below:

Here the Azeri GM improved upon his play with 15.Qf3, but this move doesn't promise any advantage either and Black obtained a good position very quickly. An interesting fighting draw, but the opening line which occurred in this game doesn't promise White the better chances and so the ball remains in his court.

Two Knights with 4.Ng5, 8.Bd3 Ng4 [C58]

In the game Sivuk, V - Beliavsky, A 16th European Championship 2015, the game saw a long theoretical line, but first Beliavsky played a rare, but interesting move in the diagram position given below:

This is a well-known position of the Two Knights with 4.Ng5. Here Black played the rare, but important line 8...Ng4!? The players were up to the task for a very long time before Black erred with 23...Rf5?, however, White soon returned the favour with 27.Bb7? A well-played game by both players, which is important for the theory of 8...Ng4 and of 8.Bd3 as a whole. The line which occurred in the game seems to lead to a position of dynamic equality, although play is very complicated and each move is of big importance.

Two Knights with 4.d4 [C56]

The game Nareznoy, D - Mikhalevski, V 16th European Championship 2015, featured an old line with 4.d4.

White played 14.Nb3 in the diagram position given above instead of 14.Nf3, which would lead to the 13...Nxd2 line after 14...Nxd2 15.Qxd2. After a few inaccurate moves (19.Bf2?!, 21.Rac1?!, 22.Bh4?) I obtained an edge and despite a slip (26...Ba5?) I won the game as White returned the favour right away (27.Qc5). This game confirmed the evaluation of the line as good for Black.

Philidor Antoshin Variation 6.g3 [C41]

The next game is a rare case of when I'm on the white side of 1.e4. In Mikhalevski, V - Gamayev, O 16th European Championship 2015, I followed my opponent's game against Beliavsky from a couple of days earlier.

I have just played 8.Bg2 instead of Beliavsky's 8.Bf4 and it came as a surprise for my opponent. He immediately committed a mistake, 8...Nc6?, which allowed me to seize an edge and finish the game with a direct attack on his king. A short, but not an easy game, which required a lot of precise calculation to be made. Black's 8...Nc6 is a mistake, the alternatives 8...0-0, 8...Nxe5 and 8...c6 are all better.

King's Gambit with 3.Bc4 Qh4+ [C33]

An extremely old opening occurred in the game Ivanchuk, V - Karjakin, S Vladimir Petrov Memorial 2015.

Karjakin played a few inaccurate moves 7...g5 and 9...h6, but 12...Ngf6 was a mistake and allowed White to claim a clear edge. A well-played game by Ivanchuk, while Karjakin wasn't at his best. It has to be remembered, though, that this was a rapid game and Black didn't have much time to solve the opening problems. 3...d5 (instead of Karjakin's 3...Qh4) is a safer line, in my opinion.

Petroff with 3.Nxe5 [C42]

The game Radjabov, T - Giri, A Tbilisi FIDE GP 2015, saw a long theoretical line.

Here Giri introduced a logical novelty, 24...fxe6 instead of 24...Re8, which is also playable, and reached an easy equality. The game proved once again how deep modern theory has been studied. Probably Radjabov wasn't in a fighting mood or just wanted to check something out. The opening line in the game leads to equal chances and so the ball remains in White's court.

See you next month, Victor.

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