ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Hello everyone,
While offline tournaments are still rather uncommon and yet we have a candidates tournament, the choice of games is clear. So, all the games in this update will be taken from this exciting tournament, featuring a wide spectrum of openings.

Download PGN of May ’21 1 e4 e5 games

>> Previous Update >>

Spanish, Anti-Marshall 8.a4 b4 9.a5 d6 10.d3 Be6 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.c3 Rb8 13.Nbd2 [C88]

The game Caruana, F - Ding Liren Candidates Yekaterinburg 2021, featured a popular line of the Anti-Marshall system with 8.a4.

In the diagram position Black played 13...Rb5, a move which has mostly been seen in correspondence chess. After the logical 14.d4 bxc3 15.bxc3 cxd4 16.cxd4 the Chinese player prepared a novelty, 16...Qc8, instead of the other moves Black had tested in this position. The game developed logically, and then White played an inaccurate move, 21.Ne4?! and yielded Black a slight edge. Instead he had to start with 21.Rc1 and only after 21...Qc7 22.Ne4 with equal chances. A well-played game by both players. Black doesn't seem to experience any problems after 16...Qc8!? and so the ball is now in White's court.

Spanish, Deferred Exchange variation 7.d3 Bd6 8.Nbd2 Be6 [C85]

Our second game, Giri, A - Ding Liren Candidates Yekaterinburg 2021, saw an early novelty from the Dutch player in a well-known position:

Here Anish played 9.Nb3!? with the idea to bring the knight to a5. Black’s reaction 9...Qe7 10.Na5 0-0-0 was logical, although he had an alternative. However, after 11.Qe2 Black’s 11...Bg4?! was dubious, he had to prefer 11...Bb4 12.Nb3 Bd6. Also after 12.c3 c5?! was inaccurate. A couple of moves later White could seize an edge with 15.Nc4!, but played 15.Nb3, although he won the game after a few mutual mistakes. 9.Nb3 is an interesting novelty, which requires extremely precise play from both sides. 10...Rb8 looks like a safer alternative to 10...0-0-0, while White's 11.a3 seems to be more accurate than 11.Qe2.

Spanish, Berlin endgame 9.h3 Ke8 10.Nc3 h5 11.Ne2 b6 12.Bg5 c5 13.Nc3 Bb7 [C67]

In the next game, Vachier Lagrave, M - Wang Hao Candidates Yekaterinburg 2021, the players discussed an important branch of the Berlin endgame.

In the position given above White followed his own game against Nakamura from 2018 with 14.Rfd1, when the main line is 14.Rad1. After 14...Bxf3 15.gxf3 c6 he deviated from the aforementioned game, which saw 16.Rd3, and played 16.f4. After a serious of logical moves Maxime played 20.Rd3, a clever move, which has the point of delaying the second f2-f4 advance. Wang Hao repeated Giri’s mistake in a similar position, which he committed against Grischuk in London 2015, by playing 20...Rhd8?! He came under some pressure, but his position remained playable before he committed suicide with three consecutive mistakes: 26...Ng7?, 27...Ne8?, 28...Nc7? An important game for the theory, which demonstrates that Black's task in seemingly simple positions is not simple at all. 20...Nxd6! is sufficient for equality.

Italian, Giuoco Piano 5...h6 6.0-0 d6 7.Re1 0-0 8.h3 [C54]

In the game Alekseenko, K - Caruana, F Candidates Yekaterinburg 2021, the American player chose a relatively rare move in the following diagram position:

He went for 8...Bb6, which was played by Mamedyarov at least four times recently. After 9.Nbd2 Ne7 White played 10.d4, which may turn out to be premature. Fabiano demonstrated the best reaction, 10...Nc6!, which was earlier introduced by Suat Atalik in 2019. The young Russian player deviated from the game Audi, A - Atalik, S Novi Sad 2019, which saw 11.dxe5, with 11.a4!? Caruana reacted well by 11...a5 12.Ba2!? exd4! 13.Nc4! dxc3 14.Nxb6 c2, although 14...cxb6 deserved attention too. The position remained roughly equal before White committed a mistake 26.Bc1?, but Black returned the favour with 26...Raf8. Instead, 26...Nxa4 would win a pawn. To sum up, 8...Bb6 is perfectly playable.

Italian, Giuoco Piano 8...a5 [C54]

Another game of the Russian player, Alekseenko, K - Ding Liren Candidates Yekaterinburg 2021, features another branch of the same line with 8...a5:

In the diagram position White played 9.b3, which is a nominal novelty, but soon the game transposed to some preceding games. The players followed a correspondence game for the next few moves, 9...Bb6 10.Nbd2 Be6 11.Nf1 d5 12.exd5 Nxd5 and only 13.Qc2 was a novelty. The Chinese player reacted correctly with 13...Qf6 and soon sacrificed a pawn and obtained sufficient compensation. On move 19 he could try to set some problems by means of 19...cxd5, but only 24...Qh5?! yielded White some advantage. A very interesting fighting game. What's opening setup with 9.b3 is not without venom, but Ding Liren reacted well and equalised. Nevertheless, it requires more practical tests.

Two Knights, 4...h6 5.c3 d6 6.Nbd2 g5 [C55]

In the game Alekseenko, K - Wang Hao Candidates Yekaterinburg 2021, Black chose a modern aggressive setup with an early 6...g5:

White answered this with 7.Nf1, when the main alternatives are 7.h3 and 7.h4, which we considered earlier. Black replied with a timely pawn break in the centre: 7...g4 8.Nd2 d5! After the moves 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Ne3! Nxe3 11.fxe3 Black played Na5, when 11...f5! 12.0-0 h5! was correct and led to a position of dynamic equality. Kirill responded with the correct 12.0-0! Nxc4 13.Nxc4 Bg7 14.e4! h5 15.Ne3! Qd6!, but his 16.Qb3 could be improved by means of 16.Nf5!? Another interesting fighting game. Black's opening setup leads to some sharp play, while White's best reaction seems to be 7.h3.

Scotch Four Knights 8...0-0 9.0-0 Bg4 10.f3 Bh5 11.Bg5 [C47]

The game Nepomniachtchi, I - Caruana, F Candidates Yekaterinburg 2021, featured a modern gambit line with 9...Bg4.

In the position given above the world number two player deviated from the main line 11...cxd5 (seen in Yu Yangyi (2726)-So,W (2765) Wijk aan Zee NED 2020 [Mikhalevski,V]) with 11...Qd6. After the following sequence 12.Bxf6 Qxf6 13.dxc6 Bxc3 14.bxc3 Qxc3 15.Be4 Black played 15...Bg6, but 15...Qc5 16.Kh1 Rad8 17.Qe2 Bg6 was more accurate. Nevertheless, Fabiano equalised the game and eventually a draw was agreed. The line with 9...Bg4 looks perfectly playable and so White needs a good idea to set any problems. Probably 13.Ne4 is the best chance.

Petroff, 5.d3 Nf6 6.d4 d5 7.Bd3 Bd6 8.Qe2 Qe7 9.Qxe7 Kxe7 [C42/C01]

Our last, but not least, game Wang Hao - Nepomniachtchi, I Candidates Yekaterinburg 2021, saw a rather rare and visually innocent line with 5.d3.

In the diagram position (which has transposed to an Exchange French with two extra moves) White has a nominal advantage, as Black can’t castle, and so the latter has to be accurate in order to fully equalise. The game continued 10.0-0 Nc6 11.c3. The last move is uncommon, although it looks logical. After 11...h6 12.Nh4 Re8 13.Nf5 Bxf5 14.Bxf5 Kf8 White obtained the bishop pair, but started to play a little carelessly, even though the position remained roughly equal for a long time. I assume Wang Hao would have achieved a draw if he had played 39.Ne3, instead of 39.Re7?! and maybe even later in the game if he didn’t commit a few more mistakes, but he was already completely out of it in the end of the tournament. 5.d3 doesn't promise any opening advantage, but White can play this system without running any risk.


See you next month, Victor.

>> Previous Update >>

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