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Hello everyone,
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic every chess tournament has moved online and so this month I will analyse the Online Nations Cup and a couple of Carlsen’s losses from the Carlsen Invitational.
You’ll also see a bigger variety of openings this time, some of them are exciting and are rare guests in the top tournaments.

Download PGN of May ’20 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish, Berlin 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Nxe5 Be7 7.Bf1 Nxe5 8.Rxe5 0-0 9.d4 Bf6 10.Re1 Re8 11.c3 Rxe1 12.Qxe1 Ne8 [C67]

The game Yu Yangyi - Wesley So, Online Nations Cup Preliminary stage 2020, saw a popular line of the Berlin.

In the position given above Yu chose the very rare, 13.a4, instead of 13.d5 or 13.Bf4, which are both much more popular. After 13...d5 14.a5 Black introduced a logical novelty, 14...Nd6. The game continued 15.Bf4 Bf5 16.Nd2 Bg5 and reached an important position. White reacted with 17.Qe3, which could lead to an equal endgame. Instead, both 17.Bg3 and 17.Bg5 promised the slightly better chances for White. 13. a4 is an interesting way to create problems, while 16...c6 looks like a safer way to equality.

Giuoco Piano 5.d3 d6 6.0-0 h6 7.Re1 0-0 8.Nbd2 a5 9.Nf1 [C54]

One of Nakamura's favourite lines was seen in the game Ding Liren - Nakamura, H Online Nations Cup Final.

Last time we analysed this position Black played 9...Be6. This time the American GM chose 9...a4, which is the main alternative. Ding played 10.h3, avoiding the complications which can arise after 10.Bb5 Ng4. Following 10...Ra5 the Chinese GM introduced a new idea, 11.d4!? Bb6 12.b4, and after the natural 12...axb3 13.Bxb3 Nakamura was slightly inaccurate, 13...Ra8?! which could yield White a slight edge after 14.Ng3 Re8 15.Rb1!

11.d4 doesn't look scary for Black, probably the most accurate reaction is 13...exd4.

Giuoco Piano 8.h3 Re8 9.Nbd2 a6 10.a4 Be6 11.Bxe6 Rxe6 12.b4 Ba7 13.Qc2 Qd7 14.Nf1 [C54]

Our next Giuoco Piano, Ding Liren - Carlsen, M Carlsen Invitational Final 2020, saw Magnus lose to Ding Liren for the second time in a couple of days.

The World Champion answered the main line with 14...d5 15.Be3! Bxe3 (instead 15...d4 was played in Giri,A – Aronian,L, Saint Louis 2019). The game continued 16.Nxe3 Ne7 17.a5 and in fact only now Magnus introduced the new, but natural novelty, 17...Ng6. Previously one correspondence game saw 17...Rc8 instead. At some point the Chinese player sacrificed a pawn, but the position remained equal till Carlsen surprisingly blundered with 31...Kh7?? and had to resign one move later. A well-played game by both players, in which a blunder decided the game. 17...Ng6 by Carlsen is perfectly playable, as well, as the entire line. The ball is in White's court.

King’s Gambit Accepted 3...Nf6 4.e5 Nh5 [C34]

Carlsen, M - Ding Liren Carlsen Invitational Preliminary stage 2020.

After securing a place in the finals Magnus decided to experiment with the King’s Gambit. Thus, in the diagram position he went for a side line, 5.Qe2, instead of 5.d4. After 5...Be7 6.d4 Black avoided a well-known trick and castled. Both players finished development and Ding was the first to go astray. Instead of the correct 10...Re8, which promised a clear edge, he went for the modest 10...c6?! and then his 12...dxe5?! was also inaccurate. Unfortunately, for the World Champion he returned the favour with 13.Nxe5?, when 13.dxe5 already promised slightly better chances for White. We don't often see the World Champion losing that fast, especially not with the white pieces. It's clear that one of the main reasons behind his fast defeat was a risky opening choice. The line chosen by Ding Liren is interesting and sets certain problems.

Vienna Game 3...Nc6 4.d3 Bb4 5.Nge2 d5 6.exd5 Nxd5 7.0-0 Be6 8.Bxd5 Bxd5 9.f4 [C28]

The game Firouzja, A - Vidit, S Online Nations Cup Preliminary group 2020, featured a tricky position in the Vienna Game.

Probably the Indian player was aware of the trick and played the correct 9...f6! as instead, 9...exf4?, which was played in an old correspondence game, turned out to be a mistake. However, after 10.fxe5 Nxe5 11.Nf4?! he played 11...Bxc3?! when instead 11...Bf7! promised a clear edge. Nevertheless, he retained the slightly better chances, but was unable to solve the problems after 19.Ne2! and the advantage changed hands. The dubious opening experiment 11.Nf4?! can't be recommended, instead, 11.Nxd5 is equal. Moreover, the entire line promises White no advantage, and after 11...Bf7! Black is better.

Vienna Game 3...Nxe4 4.Qh5 Nd6 5.Bb3 Be7 6.Qxe5 0-0 7.d4 Nc6 8.Qf4 Na5 9.Bd5 Ne8 10.Bf3 [C27]

In the game Fioruzja, A - Aronian, L Online Nations Cup Preliminary stage 2020, Black went for an interesting old line with 3...Nxe4.

Levon introduced an interesting novelty in the diagram position, 10...Bb4. White’s reaction 11.a3?! wasn’t the best and promised Black a comfortable position. Instead, 11.Nge2 was better, but it doesn’t seem to set problems anyway. However, Aronian’s 15...Qf6?, an attempt to outplay his young opponent in an endgame, was a mistake and allowed White to equalize. Instead, the correct 15...Qa5! would just win a pawn for Black. A classy win for the former Iranian player, who completely outplayed Aronian from what looks like an equal endgame. This game proves that his talent as a great tactical player is supplemented by great technical skills. Nevertheless, Levon's 10...Bb4 is playable and it has to be met by 11.Nge2.

Petroff 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.0-0-0 Nf6 10.Bd3 c5 11.Rhe1 Be6 [C42]

The game Caruana, F - Wang Hao Online Nations Cup Preliminary stage 2020, featured an important theoretical line in the 5.Nc3 Petroff.

In the rather popular diagram position Caruana played a very rare move, 12.Bf4!?, instead of 12.Kb1, which is the main line. It has also been seen in a game between the same players in the Candidates. After the logical reaction 12...d5 Caruana played 13.Ng5! and it’s surprising that Black’s very next move, 13...Bg4?, turned out to be a decisive mistake. Instead, 13...c4! was necessary. Caruana won the game with a direct attack, which was difficult to meet. An easy win for Caruana, who's 12.Bf4 is interesting and has to be met with 13...c4! After 13...Bg4? Black is in trouble.

Petroff Defence 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 8.c4 c6 9.Qc2 [C42]

In the game Dominguez, L - Aronian, L Online Nations Cup Preliminary stage 2020, Black went for the last word of theory in the well-known diagram position given below:

The position hasn’t been tested much at the top level, but it’s far from new. Usually Black plays 9...Na6, but Levon preferred a fresh line, 9...h6 with a subsequent pawn sacrifice. After the moves 10.Re1 Be6 11.cxd5 cxd5 12.Bxe4 dxe4 13.Qxe4 Bd5! 14.Qg4 Qd7! the game went into an endgame with an extra pawn for White, but two bishops for Black. However, after 16.Nc3 Bxf3 17.gxf3 it was transformed into a position with weak kingside pawns. Aronian’s next move, 17...Bb4!?, is a new and deep idea. White’s soft 18.Bd2 soon saw White defending a passive position with an extra pawn. A great technical win for Levon Aronian, his 17...Bb4 is interesting and White has to answer it with either 18.a3 or 18.Be3, as 18.Bd2 doesn't promise any advantage.


See you next month, Victor.

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