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A Spanish special this time with a number of variations coming under the microscope.

Download PGN of May '07 1 e4 e5 games

Open Variation [C80-83]

In Game 1 Korchnoi wheels out the Open variation just like a hundred times before. He has been responsible for a number of memorable new ideas in this variation over the many decades of his career, but here his 11th move novelty is left lacking and this will now probably be allowed to die a natural death:

Amonatov had no problems in keeping some pressure out of the opening and broke through with a nice combination in the middlegame.

In Game 2 Jakovenko manages to keep a small but persistent edge throughout the game against Sutovsky. Noteworthy is the improvement 16 Qd3 (varying from Kamsky's 16 Qf4) which provokes a weakening of the dark squares around Black's king:

These were exploited in exemplary fashion later on.

Marshall Gambit [C89]

In Game 3, the first of three games from the Marshall Gambit, we notice that Kramnik is willing to play the Marshall with either colour. In the notes he beats Leko with Black (a turn around from the famous game from their match where he lost with White!) and in the main game he introduces a curious novelty and outplays Aronian. Here is the position after 18...Qh5:

By playing 19 f3!? Kramnik returns the pawn for a comfortable, easily-defended position with a small pull. It doesn't look that much for White, but who wants to defend a slightly-worse ending against Kramnik of all people? Marshall fans will need to have a look at how Black can continue and try and do better than Aronian.

The opening in Game 4 isn't one of the better known ones from the Marshall but 13 g3 is a speciality of Moldovan number two Iordachescu. The game ends dramatically as Gustafsson plays a delightful combination. Can you see how Black wins from the following diagram?

Black can actually force mate in a few moves.

In Game 5 Galkin introduces a common sense novelty and then after a few natural moves is rewarded with a seemingly advantageous middlegame. His later piece sacrifice was notable as he obtained three pawns, good piece play and left Black with scattered pieces and the worse king. No wonder he was able to go on and win!

Frankly this game is a blow for 17...f5 which may be already under a cloud as a direct consequence. If so, then start looking at 17...Bf5!

Anti-Marshall [C92]

Tkachiev became European champion recently due in part to his success in the tie-breaks. Winning with Black against Cheparinov being a great boost for his cause. In Game 6 the Bulgarian avoids the risk of entering the Marshall gambit by playing 8 h3, but I don't believe this approach should seriously test a well-prepared Spanish player. The game and notes showing that Black seems to be doing fine in the 8 h3 version of the Anti-Marshall at the moment. I wonder if this explains why the real-Marshall is so popular: White is having to take up the gauntlet as he isn't getting very far by dodging the challenge!? Just a thought!

The Closed Spanish [C92-99]

In the following standard position Black played an interesting move in Game 7:

The move 9...Rb8!? will be new to many subscribers as it isn't that well known, but it has been played by up-and-coming Polish IM Gajewski on several occasions. Black plays a waiting move that may come in useful. The theory is examined in the notes to the game which saw White and then Black try and win. I don't think White obtained much opening advantage in the actual game, but see the notes to White's 14th move for the key variation as played by Spraggett last year.

Keres Variation

In Game 8 David Howell avoids mainstream theory (perhaps prudently against Keres aficionado Graf) and just plays. He soon finds a way to vary from the beaten path and then sacrifices the exchange in a controversial manner. Your computer may prefer Black but White has good practical chances for his material and indeed it's no surprise that White soon takes control as his position is the easiest to play.

By contrast, in Game 9 one of the critical theoretical continuations is tested. Kotronias likes to handle this line aggressively with White but he probably overplayed his hand and L'Ami should have emerged from the complications on top. With move 40 approaching L'Ami gave an unfortunate check and was soon obliged to pay with the whole point. Theoretically speaking I believe that Black is holding his own in the 'Graf variation of Keres's variation' (12...exd4).

The quiet 12 d5

In Game 10 Sulskis plays 12 d5 closing the centre:

Despite many books dismissing this as offering no advantage it still offers both sides many possibilities. The early opening of the kingside (following 15 g4 h5 16 gxh5) is one of the sharpest follow-ups and led to a tense middlegame but no advantage for either camp. White's error occurred when he aimed to win the f-pawn as this cost him his centre. The ending of two knights versus rook gave Black excellent winning chances and he duly won, but a closer look reveals a drawing combination that the Israeli GM missed on three separate occasions.

Bye, Glenn

Please post your Kingpawn Opening queries on the 1 e4 e5 Forum, or subscribers can write to if you have any questions.