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Hello everyone,
This month I had a wide choice of top events and took a couple of games each from different tournaments. I also included my own game from a strong open tournament in Sweden. A lot of interesting stuff, including Kasparov back in action with his Scotch.

Download PGN of May ’16 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish. Open variation with 9.Nbd2 and 12.Nxd4 [C83]

The four-game match of young super stars provided us with two games in the Open Spanish. Let me start with game four of the So vs Ding Match, China 2016.

The players followed a rapid game Hou, Y - Koneru, H/Beijing 2012 for the first 22 moves and after 22...Kf8 reached the diagram position given above. So was the first to deviate here with 23.Kf2, instead of Hou Yifan's 23.Bxe7, but the move doesn't seem to set Black many problems and the Chinese GM equalised comfortably. A well-played game by both players, the lines with 12.cxd4 or 12.Nxd4 yield White a very slight edge, but Black seems to neutralise White's pressure and equalise.

Spanish. Open variation with 9.Be3 Be7 and 11...Nxd2 [C83]

Game two of the So vs Ding Match, China 2016, featured another principled line of the Open Spanish.

Once again Wesley was the first to surprise his opponent with the extremely rare 12.Bxd2 here, instead of the much more popular 12.Qxd2, as in Navara, D - Polgar, J/Prague CZE 2010/ [Mikhalevski,V]. Black was up to the task and after White introduced the dubious novelty 16.Bc2? (instead of 16.a4! as in David, A - Vocaturo, D/Milan 2015) Black could have seized the initiative with the precise 16...g6. Instead, he returned the favour and the game was eventually drawn. The analysis of this game proved that Black doesn't experience any problems in the line with 11...Nxd2 (or 11...Qd7 12.Re1 Nxd2) and can even hope for an edge if White plays inaccurately, as he did here.

Spanish. Marshall with 12.d3 and 14...Re8 [C89]

The game Frolyanov, D - Matlakov, M TCh-RUS Men 2016, saw the line with 14...Re8, which is gaining popularity after Svidler employed it against both Karjakin and Ivanchuk.

We've already considered this position no less than twice recently, when White played 18.Bc2? and 18.g3. This time he deviated with 18.h3 and the players followed the game Kotronias, V - Pavlovic, M/Vrnjacka Banja 2005 for the first 25 moves. The St.Petersburg GM was the first to deviate with a strong novelty, 25...Qb2! instead of 25...c5?, and equalised comfortably. A well-played game by both players, which is also very important for the theory of the line with 18...Re8 and that of the entire Marshall. The ball is still in White's court.

Scotch with 4...Nf6 and 6.Qe2 [C45]

My recent game Shirov, A - Mikhalevski, V Hasselbacken 2016, featured the dubious, in my opinion, line with 6.Qe2, which Shirov prepared especially for the tournament in Stockholm.

During my preparation for the game I analysed the game Shirov, A - Sevian, S Hasselbacken 2016, which took place just a couple of days earlier. The young American GM retreated the bishop to e7 here and outplayed his strong opponent in the tactical complications. However, I found ways for White to improve upon his play and so decided to deviate with the rare 7...Bc5. My choice proved to be correct as White was soon fighting for equality. I had a few chances to claim an edge, the last one being 34...Ne2! with a won pawn endgame, instead of the 34...axb5? I played in the game. This game proved that 6.Qe2 doesn't promise any opening advantage, though I won't be surprised to see it again in practice.

Scotch with 4...Bc5 5.Be3 and 7...0-0 [C45]

The Ultimate Blitz Challenge in Saint Louis was an exciting event with Kasparov back in action. He prepared his favourite Scotch for the event, and the first game I'm going to share with you is Kasparov, G - Caruana, F Ultimate Blitz Challenge 2016, round 15.

In this already rare diagram position Caruana ignored White's idea of 11.f4 with the rare 10...Bb7 (instead of 10...N5g6). Then Kasparov's 13.b4 was weakening, when instead he should have tried playing 13.Bxc5. Not the best of Kasparov's games, which he will try to forget quickly. However, Caruana proved that the line with 7...0-0 is a reasonable alternative to 7...Ne5.

Scotch with 4...Bc5 5.Be3 and 7...Ne5 8.Bb3 [C45]

Kasparov played no less than three game in the 7...Ne5 system against Nakamura in this blitz event. The game Kasparov, G - Nakamura, H Ultimate Blitz Challenge 2016, round 17, saw 8.Bb3, a rather rare deviation from the main line 8.Be2.

In the critical diagram position above Black went for the materialistic 11...Bxd4, which seems to be wrong. In two preceding games Black played the correct 11...f6 instead. After missing 13.Qd2! Hikaru tried to complicate matters with the piece sacrifice 13...Qxe4?, but it only made White's task easier, and despite a long defence he had to accept the inevitable. A relatively easy win for the thirteenth World Champion. The line with 8.Bb3 is interesting and deserves more practical tests.

Vienna 3.g3 Bc5 and 4...c6 [C26]

In the game Li Chao - Kramnik, V 4th Norway Chess 2016, the Russian ex-champ employed an interesting line with 4...c6.

In the position given above Kramnik played 10...Bxd4! and seized the initiative. A slight slip, 30...Qh4?!, allowed White to escape with a draw, but Vlad demonstrated that 4...c6 is a good alternative to 4...Nc6 and 4...d6. I'm expecting more practical tests of this line.

Giuoco Piano with 7.Re1 [C50]

And last, but not least, Giri, A - Eljanov, P 4th Norway Chess 2016, featured a popular line of the Italian with 7.Re1:

The Ukrainian GM decided to surprise his opponent here with the extremely rare 7...a5. After some logical and strong play from both sides Black blundered with 19...h5? and then failed to defend a difficult position. Instead 19...Kg7 promised equality. The line with 7...a5 looks playable and Giri's 8.Bg5 also deserves further practical tests.

See you next month, Victor.

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