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Hello everyone,
In this update you will find a lot of offbeat lines, some of which haven't been seen on our pages for a while. Once again I've just played in a tournament and decided to analyse a couple of my own games. Otherwise, top level chess, as usual.

Download PGN of November '14 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish - Berlin Wall with 9.h3 h6 [C67]

Once in a while I employ the Berlin endgame, as in the game Shabalov, A - Mikhalevski, V Calgary International 2014.

Here I introduced a new move, 12...Bd7 instead of 12...Be6, although the position itself is already pretty rare. After holding the position for a while I went for a counter attack on the kingside and even won a pawn, but it turned out to be insufficient to win the game. Black doesn't seem to be in any real danger in this line, so the ball is in White's court.

Spanish - Anti-Berlin with 4.d3 [C65]

Game 2 of the World Championship match Carlsen, M - Anand, V Sochi 2014, featured the popular Anti-Berlin system with 4.d3.

In this rather popular position Carlsen chose the extremely rare 6.Re1. A very interesting game! Carlsen skilfully posed his opponent problems throughout the game and Anand eventually collapsed under the pressure. The opening line with 6.Re1 doesn't gain a theoretical advantage, but leads to the type of position in which skill is more important than the objective assessment of the position.

Spanish - Open Variation [C82]

In the game Arruebarrena, R - Mikhalevski, V Calgary International 2014, I decided to play an old and well-forgotten line.

White played 19.Nxe7 in the diagram position, although I expected 19.Be3. It's curious that the diagram position has also been seen in the game Kosteniuk, A - Nakamura, H Geneve 2013 rapid. In the latter White played 19.dxc5 and was soon worse... The line with 11...Bg4 is rather risky for Black and may serve mostly as a surprise weapon.

Spanish - Archangel with 7.a4 [C78]

The game Vachier - Lagrave, M - Nakamura, H Tashkent GP 2014, featured a sharp line of the Archangel with 7.a4.

The players followed the game Svidler, P - Shirov, A/Khanty-Mansiysk 2009, for the first 15 moves (see diagram), and here White deviated with 16.e5. MVL showed very good opening preparation, obtained a clear edge and could then have secured a big plus with 24.Qb5, but instead went astray (24.Nd6) and eventually the game was drawn. White's idea with 17.Qe2 was interesting and set Black some problems. I believe Black should have played 19...Ng6, instead of 19...Ra8. I hope to see this line in the near future as it looks critical.

King's Gambit Accepted with 3...Ne7 [C34]

In the game Rapport, R - Bacrot, E Bundesliga 2014, the young Hungarian GM employed Morozevich's 5.Qe2:

Black was well-prepared and with 16...Qd6 could have secured an edge, but went astray and allowed White to escape with a draw. Despite being only 23 moves long the game was fascinating. 8.Bd2 in Morozevich's 5.Qe2 line doesn't seem to set any opening problems, though it leads to very sharp positions with mutual chances.

Vienna Game, Symmetric variation with 3.g3 [C25]

The game Mamedyarov, S - Kasimdzhanov, R Tashkent GP 2014, saw a rather uncommon line of the Vienna game.

In this already pretty rare position Mamedyarov introduced 7. h4, but Black was up to the task and even obtained an edge. However, later in the game he went astray (17...Bxa2? instead of 17...Nxg3!) in a sharp position and even lost. A tough game, White initiated complications early in the opening, which could have backfired if Black played correctly, but eventually his play was justified. However, opening-wise Black experiences no problems in this line and I doubt White's play will be repeated.

Four Knights with 4.g3 [C47] or Vienna with 3...d5 [C26]

In the game Radjabov, T - Karjakin, S Tashkent GP 2014, Black introduced an interesting novelty in the following diagram position:

Karjakin played 9...h6, which soon transposed into the main line 9...Rb8, however. An important junction was reached after 10...Rb8, when Radjabov played the very rare, but interesting 11.Nh4. The aggressive 11.Nh4, which was tested in this game, isn't dangerous for Black, although a precise reaction is necessary in order to avoid a direct attack on the king, which could have worked in the current game.

Jobava's Ponziani with 3.Be2 [C44]

The Georgian GM is faithful to himself and once again employed the offbeat 3.Be2-line in the game Jobava, B - Caruana, F Tashkent GP 2014.

In the diagram position White played the rare 7.Qa4, but Fabiano was well-prepared and after the inaccurate 9.0-0?, which was a novelty, counter attacked with 9...b5! and obtained a clear edge. 11...Ne7 would secure an advantage and an extra pawn would have allowed Black to win without any serious problems. However, Caruana erred, and even though he still retained winning chances he was the last to slip up again and the game was eventually drawn.

A tough game, in which White just survived an opening catastrophe. Although 7.Qa4 is playable, 9.0-0 is just a blunder and has to be replaced by 9.b5. Anyway 3.Be2 is hardly a way to set Black any opening problems.


See you next month, Victor.

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