Spanish - Steinitz Deferred [C72]
After Radjabov's espousal of the Schliemann Gambit, just recently Grischuk started playing the sharp Steinitz Deferred piece sacrifice, 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 5. O-O Bg4 6. h3 h5:
This worked OK against Svidler, but a few days later, in Gashimov, V - Grischuk, A, he was faced with the sharp 7. d4 and lost horribly. Still, as Mike Yeo pointed out, Black has a big improvement which keeps the line playable. I have including a brief effort of my own in the notes.
Gajewski Variation [C96]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Na5 10. Bc2 d5:
This opening has become mainstream over the past few months, being played many times by a whole spectrum of players.
Firstly, in Almasi, Z - Stevic, H we will look at 11. d4 dxe4 12. Nxe5, White's play looks fairly critical to me, and although Black won easily after the exciting complications, the note to move 21 reveals that White may have been better at this stage.
Second, Black is not forced to capture on e4 with the pawn, but can play for an Open Spanish structure, as in Kotronias, V - Lie, K, where Black refutes his opponent's optimism. Michael Egan's new move is in the note to move 12.
I have played this line several times myself this year, with the same result each time, a draw! In fact, most times my opponents have preferred 11. exd5 e4 12. Bxe4, grabbing the pawn, as in Durarbeyli, V - Kosten, A. I feel Black is a bit worse in these positions, but his bishop pair give him long-term compensation.
Incidentally, 12. Ng5 might soon be considered a mistake, see Stevic's improvement in the note.
Zaitsev Variation [C92]
IM Goh Wei Ming
In the wake of Tony Kosten's January update, an improvement over the earlier game Leko-Adams, Wijk Aan Zee 2008, arrived courtesy of Kamsky, see Kamsky, G - Adams, M.
Ruy Lopez Chigorin [C99]
IM Goh Wei Ming
In the first section of this article, we will take a look at some of the latest ideas in the Classical Ruy Lopez with the move 12...Rd8. After the moves, 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Qc7 12. Nbd2:
the move 12...Rd8 or first 12...cxd4 13. cxd4 then 13...Rd8 have never had a strong following compared to 12..Nc6. In his DVD My best games in the Spanish, Vol 1, Shirov even described this move as possibly an opening mistake. In this update, we will first look at Khalifmann's recommendation 13.b3 and then investigate what Shirov perceives as the refutation of this entire system, 13.Nf1.
First, Stojic,D-Zhang Zhong shows just how easy it is to go wrong if White doesn't know how to deal with this line appropriately. Though I guess one could probably argue that White was outrated by more then 400 elo points anyway.
In Adams, M - Koneru, H, Adams followed along the lines of an idea that was previously analyzed in Gashimov-Tseitlin France 2006. The plan starting with 16.a3 and 17. b4 followed by a white knight journey to the a5 square:
This proved just as effective in this clash of genders.
In Zhigalko, A - Khairullin, I White played 17. d5, closing the centre, intending to go for an all-out attack on the kingside with the moves g2-g4, Nf1-g3-f5, a rook lift with Re3 and so on.
Stefansson, H - Almasi, Z features a new attempt, 15...Qb6:
I would like to present some of my blitz games in this variation. My sparring partner in this instance goes by the handle "Milanov" and I counted at least 10 games that we fought in this variation. Despite the short time control, the games are surprisingly of some theoretical interest, see Goh Wei Ming-Milanov.
Finally, it has been some time since the ultimate main line of the Classical Ruy Lopez has been covered in this column and I would like to do a small recap of the main ideas of this complex line in Karjakin, S - Inarkiev, E. In the annotations to this game, I sometimes refer to Alexei Shirov's comments in his excellent DVD My best games in the Spanish, Volume 1.
Many thanks to Goh Wei Ming, and see you next month, Tony