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Hello everyone,
This update will be mainly based on the European Team Championships in Batumi, Georgia. Please pay special attention to Daniil Dubov's surprising idea in the Anti-Marshall system.

Download PGN of November ’19 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish, Anti-Marshall with 8.a4 [C88]

The game Bjerre, J - Dubov, D 22nd European Teams Batumi 2019, featured a surprising and very interesting idea in the diagram given below, after 8.a4:

Usually Black answers 8.a4 with 8...b4 or 8...Bb7, but instead Dubov played 8...d5!? The young Danish player replied with 9.exd5, and after 9...Na5! 10.Nxe5 Nxb3 11.cxb3 Bb7! 12.Nc6! Bxc6 13.dxc6 Bc5! White allowed a piece sacrifice on f2 after 14.d3. 14.d4 would be a reasonable alternative in order to prevent 14...Bxf2+. Soon White erred with 16.Be3? and was unable to recover. Instead, all king retreats were still playable and led to roughly equal chances. An easy win for Dubov, but the line with 8...d5 is risky for Black, and 9.axb5 seems to be the critical test of this idea.

Central Attack 9 d4 Bg4 10.Be3 exd4 11.cxd4 Na5 12.Bc2 Nc4 13.Bc1 c5 [C91]

In the game Nisipeanu, LD - Vitiugov, N 22nd European Teams Batumi 2019 ,the players discussed an important line of the Closed Spanish with 9.d4.

We have already considered the diagram position before, but White’s 17.a4, which is one of White’s most important options in this position, hasn’t been seen on our pages yet. After 17...bxa4 White came with the strong novelty 18.d5! which kept the c-file closed. Black didn’t find a good way to meet it and got into trouble after 18...Bxf3 19.Nxf3 axb3 20.Bxb3 Ra8 21 e5 Nfd7? 22.e6. Vitiugov could try 18...Nfd7, although I didn’t find full equality there, while after 18...Bxf3 19.Qxf3! was more accurate than 19.Nxf3. A convincing victory for the German player! 18.d5! is a strong novelty and Black is still to find a way to equalize.

Spanish 8.a4 Bg4 9.c3 0-0 10.h3 Bh5 11.d3 Na5 12.Bc2 b4 [C90]

I also played in the European Teams 2019 and the next two games are mine. So, first Kalezic, B - Mikhalevski, V 22nd European Teams Batumi 2019.

Here, after 12...b4!, my opponent continued with 13.Nbd2 Rb8 14.d4, which is the most logical. I replied with 14...bxc3 15.bxc3 exd4 and after 16.exd4 c5, a novelty which was still part of my preparation. Following 17.Bd3 d5! 18.e5 I played the inaccurate 18...Nfd7, instead of 18...Ne4! Which would lead to comfortable play for Black. It seems that Black obtains decent play in the line with 8...Bg4, 18...Ne4 is an important improvement and yields Black equal chances.

Open Spanish 6...Be7 7.Re1 b5 8.Rxe4 d5 9.Nxe5 Nxe5 10.Rxe5 bxa4 11.b3 [C84]

Blomquist, E - Mikhalevski, V 22nd European Teams Batumi 2019, saw a slightly dubious line of the Open Spanish with 6...Be7.

White’s last move is one of four options we have already considered in the position. I answered with 11...0-0, while Caruana played 11...Be8 in a recent game against Nakamura. However, we transposed to this game after the moves 12.Ba3 Bxa3 13.Nxa3 Qd6 (13...Re8 was played by Radajabov in 2012) 14.Nb1 axb3 15.axb3 c5 16.Nc3 Be6. Here my opponent played 17.Re3, which was played by Saric, while in the aforementioned Nakamura game White preferred 17.Ne2. Here I found the over-the-board novelty 17...Rac8!, which seems to be an improvement on 17...Rfc8 from Saric,I-Kapnisis,S Rio Achaea 2018. However, my 19...Qxc5? turned out to be a mistake which could have lead to serious problems. Instead 19...Rxc5 promised equal chances. The line with 6...Be7 is slightly dubious, while 13...Re8 might be more accurate than 13...Qd6.

Spanish, Berlin 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 d5 6.exd5 Qxd5 7.Bc4 Qd6 8.b4 Bb6 9.a4 0-0 [C65]

The game Nakamura, H - Aronian, L FIDE Grand Swiss Douglas 2019, featured an important line of the 4.d3 Berlin with 5...d5.

With his last move, my recommendation 9...0-0, Black offered a piece sacrifice, as the bishop on b6 can be trapped. Earlier we considered 9...e4 in Vachier Lagrave,M (2796)-Kramnik,V (2808) Stavanger 2017 [Mikhalevski,Victor]. In reply 10.Nbd2 is an interesting move which has been tested in a few recent top-level games. Earlier I considered 10.a5?! and 10.0-0. After the text the play from both sides has to be very precise, as the position is very sharp, and any mistake can cost either player dear: 10...Bf5! 11.Ba3! e4! 12.dxe4 Nxe4 13.Nxe4 Bxe4 14.Qxd6 cxd6 15.0-0-0 Rc8 The players have followed the game Caruana, F - Aronian, L London 2018, which saw 16.Bd5, and now Nakamura tried 16.Bb3, but Levon was up to the task and after the correct 16...Rfd8! he soon equalized. An important game for the theory of the 5...d5 line, but the ball stays in White's court.

Italian 5.d4 exd4 6.e5 d5 7.Bb5 Ne4 8.cxd4 Bb6 9.Nc3 0-0 10.Be3 Bg4 [C53]

The game Aronian, L - Adams, M 22nd European Teams Batumi 2019, saw the Armenian player's pet line.

We’ve already considered this diagram position before, when 15...Ng3 was played in the game Naiditsch,A (2702)-Kramnik,V (2794) Antalya TUR 2017 [Mikhalevski,Victor]. This time Black preferred 15...Nf5, which isn’t new either. After the moves 16.Qc2 Nxe3 17.fxe3 Ng3 18.Bxg6 hxg6 19.Rf2 Black introduced the dubious novelty 19...f5?! Instead, 19...Ba5 is better, and was even already played on the very next day in the same tournament in the game Dastan,B (2577)-Mastrovasilis,A (2521) Batumi 2019. Now White could obtain an edge should he play 20.h4 or 21.h4! But Levon proceeded with 20.Ne2 Ne4 21.Rff1 and after 21...g5 Adams managed to equalize. 19...f5?! has to be avoided, instead either 19...Ba5 or 19...Qd7 has to be preferred.

Giuoco Piano 6...a5 7.Re1 0-0 8.h3 h6 9.Nbd2 Be6 10.Bb5 Qb8 [C50]

The game Giri, A - Anton Guijarro, D 22nd European Teams Batumi 2019, featured a popular line of the Giuoco Piano.

White played 11.Bxc6 in the diagram position, but this shouldn’t have come as a surprise to the Spaniard, as Giri had already played this way recently against Ding Liren. After 11...bxc6 12.d4 exd4 13.cxd4 Bb6 (Ding Liren preferred 13...Bb4) Anish introduced the novelty 14.a4!?, instead of the 14.Nf1 in Nikolovski,N (2409)-Kovalev,V (2651) Spilimbergo 2019. Black reacted with 14...Re8, but after 15.Ra3 played the inaccurate 15...Qb7?! and soon came under a very strong attack. Instead, 15...Qa7 was better, Anton Guijarro clearly underestimated White's attack on the kingside. The most accurate way of playing would be 14...d5, while in the game White could set problems with 18.Ba3!

Two Knights 4.d4 exd4 5.e5 d5 6.Bb5 Ne4 7.Nxd4 Bd7 8.Bxc6 bxc6 9.0-0 Be7 [C44]

The game Huschenbeth, N - Dubov, D FIDE Grand Swiss Douglas 2019, saw a line which is not very popular at a high level, 4.d4.

Earlier we considered 9...Bc5, although 9...Be7 is also pretty logical. After 10.f3 Nc5 11.f4 Black played the risky 11...Ne4?! (11...0-0 is more accurate), but White returned the favour with 12.f5?! The correct move is 12.Nc3! and has been known since 1963. Black’s 12...c5? was also bad and could lead to a better position for White had he played 14.Rf3! instead of 14.Re1. 12...Bc5!, as played by Keres(!), was better.


See you next month, Victor.

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