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Hello everyone,
Recently we witnessed two top events: the Kramnik-Aronian match which featured many 1 e4 e5 games, and the Russian team championships. So in this update you'll only see encounters between the very top players (2700+) and thus a lot of tough and high quality chess ... and also a good score for Black!

Download PGN of May '12 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish - Berlin Defence [C67]

Game 2 of the Aronian, L - Kramnik, V, Zurich chess challenge match 2012, featured a very surprising opening, since Aronian hasn't played 1.e4 for a long, long time.

Black's surprise came as early as move 9, in a position which Kramnik has already played many times. In short, in the diagram position he played 9...Be6, a rather uncommon continuation. Aronian wasn't able to set Black any serious problems and after some accurate moves in the middlegame Kramnik simplified to a dead draw.

A well played game by both players. The Berlin is alive in its different branches and remains a headache for 1.e4 players. The fourth game of the match only confirmed these words.

Berlin with 4.d3 [C65]

In the sixth game of the match Aronian avoided the Berlin Wall endgame with 4.d3. The players followed the game Alekseev, E - Jumabayev, R/Moscow RUS 2012, until they reached the following diagram position:

here Kramnik introduced the novelty 14...exd4. White sacrificed a pawn and obtained some initiative, but Kramnik was able to equalize with 28...Kh7. Instead he went to f8 and allowed White to seize an advantage. However, Levon erred and allowed Black to set him some very serious problems. Fortunately for him, Kramnik played the tempting 33...e3 and soon the game was drawn. A very spectacular game despite or thanks to some unavoidable mistakes for such a sharp struggle. Kramnik's novelty, 14...exd4 deserves further practical tests, see Aronian, L - Kramnik, V Zurich chess challenge 2012.

Spanish with 5.d3 [C77]

This time, in Kramnik, V - Aronian, L Zurich chess challenge 2012 (rapid game), it was Kramnik's turn to deviate from the main lines of the Spanish with 5.d3. The difference with the previous game is the inclusion of the moves 3...a6 3.Ba4, allowing Levon to chose an aggressive setup with 5...b5 and 6...Bc5, against which his opponent went for a side line with 8.Bg5:

In the above position Levon introduced the logical novelty 10...Rb8 and obtained a balanced position. Kramnik offered an interesting pawn sacrifice, 20.d4, but committed a mistake a few moves later and Aronian finished the game in style. A very interesting and complex game, which involved a lot of tactics and unbalanced positions. White's opening setup doesn't promise any advantage, though the position remains very tense.

Archangel Variation [C78]

Ponomariov, R - Shirov, A 19th TCh-RUS 2012, featured this favourite variation of Shirov.

In the diagram position Ponomariov played 12.dxe5, instead of the more promising 12.Bg5, and the players followed the recent game Movsesian,S-Onischuk/Ningbo 2011, for the first 18 moves, at which point Black showed his homework, 18...Bxf3, and soon equalized. There is still a lot of black holes in this line, and in my opinion Jobava's 12.Bg5 is more dangerous than 12.dxe5, and Black should meet the latter with 12...Nxe5.

Spanish with 6.d3 [C84]

Sutovsky, E - Svidler, P 19th TCh-RUS 2012, saw another deviation from the main lines, this time with 6.d3.

Here Svidler introduced a natural novelty, 12...Qd7 instead of Carlsen's 12...Bxb3, and after the subsequent inaccuracies 13.a4 and 14 a5 seized the initiative and won convincingly. Almost a perfectly played game by Svidler, who clearly showed that the line with 12.Bb3 doesn't present the shadow of a problem. The entire Botvinnik line with 11...Be6 looks very safe for Black.

Central Attack with 9.d4 [C91]

Sutovsky, E - Morozevich, A TCh-RUS 2012, featured the 9.d4 system which yielded Sutovsky a nice win in the recent game against Grigoriants (see the last update). In that game Black played 11...Bg6, while here Morozevich preferred 11...exd4, which leads us to the diagram position after 12.cxd4:

Here Black chose a clever move order, 12...Na5 (instead of the more popular 12...d5) and after 13.Bc2 Nc4 14.Bc1 the move 14...d5!, which seems to fully equalize - White's subsequent novelty 15.Nc3 didn't change much. Morozevich rejected several strong options, which promised equal chances, and eventually outplayed his opponent by exploiting his mistakes. A well played game by Morozevich and a bad day for Sutovsky. The opening line with 11...exd4, 12...Na5 and 14...d5 seems to equalize and so the ball is right back in White's court.

Scotch 4...Bc5 [C45]

The game Wang Hao-Tomashevsky,E TCh-RUS 2012, saw Tomashevsky's early novelty in an important, but rather rare line:

In the diagram position given above Black played 9...Qxg3, instead of 9...Rb8, 9...Nf6 or the 9...Ne7 which was Tomashevsky's choice two years ago. After this exchange Black came under long-term pressure and only escaped with a draw thanks to very good defence. The opening line with the exchange of queens doesn't look promising for Black, who has to suffer for a long time in order to save half a point. So I would recommend looking at the alternatives.

Scotch Four Knights [C47]

Last, but not least, is the third game from the Kramnik, V - Aronian, L Zurich chess challenge match 2012, which saw the surprising (at least at this level) Scotch Four Knights. Aronian also surprised his opponent on move 5 with 5...Bc5 instead of the much more common 5...Bb4 and initiated major complications.

In the important position for this line after 9...d5, seen above, Kramnik introduced a critical novelty, 10.exd5! and outplayed his opponent in the tactics.

An interesting fighting game, in which Aronian pushed too much and was duly punished. Probably the entire line with 5...Bc5 is in White's favour. Anyway, the ball is still in Black's court and he has to show an improvement over Aronian's play.


See you next month, Victor.

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