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It was not easy deciding on my final list of games this month, as there was a very wide choice, including lots of interesting games from the Computer World Championship, the US Championship, and also the World Junior, with a couple of games from the pre-tournament favourite Andrey Esipenko featured here.

Download PGN of November ’22 1 e4 e5 games

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The Scotch Gambit 3 Bc4 Bc5 4 d4 exd4 5 Ng5 [C44]

I looked at this crude line in February, and thought it was quite dangerous for Black if he doesn't know what he is doing. Back then, after the further 5...Nh6 6 Nxf7! Nxf7 7 Bxf7+ Kxf7 8 Qh5+ g6 9 Qxc5 d5 10 c3 dxe4 11 O-O I looked at the mainline 11...Qd6, which has the sensible goal of exchanging queens. In Liang, A - Aronian, L the king pawn expert preferred 11...Re8:

This is also playable, and quite logical, but after just one slip Black was completely crushed!

Modern Giuoco Piano 6.0-0 a6 7 a4 Ba7 8 Re1 h6 9 Nbd2 g5 [C54]

In the January 2018 update Victor analysed the game Karjakin,S-Carlsen,M and after 9...g5 10 b4! Gave the move 10...Nh5 an exclamation mark. Instead, in the game Asis Gargatagli, H - Guerrero, A Black preferred the rare 10...Ng4!? 11 Re2 Qf6 with the threat to take on f2:

In reply White played the critical 12 d4!? exd4 13 e5! with sharp complications. It looks like Black is in trouble, but he was clearly very well prepared and played a series of only moves, and despite White's strong innovation on move 19 Black might just be able to hang on.

Giuoco Piano 5 d4 exd4 6 e5 d5 7 Bb5 Ne4 8 cxd4 Bb6 9 Nc3 0-0 10 Be3 Bg4 11 h3 Bh5 12 Qc2 [C54]

This trendy line has received a lot of attention from Victor these last 3 years. The mainline continues 12...Nxc3 13 bxc3 f6 14 exf6 Qxf6 15 Be2 Na5 and now 16 0-0. However, what happens after 16 Ne5, instead, threatening a fork on d7?

In reply Black has a neat tactical resource, see Filip, A - Parligras, M.

Two Knights 3 d4 exd4 4 Bc4 Nf6 5 e5 Ne4 [C56]

It's nearly twenty years since we last looked at 5...Ne4, but it is a very good alternative to the mainline with 5...d5, and has been popular recently. Actually, I have been wanting to look at this the last month or two, but picked this game because of the pretty, and thematic finish! Black to play and win:

A classic combination that I've played myself many times in the past, in similar positions, although mostly with Black. Don't miss Ivanovic, M - Ivic, V.

Spanish 4...Nge7 5 0-0 Ng6 6 c3 d5 [C60]

4...Nge7 5 0-0 Ng6 6 c3 is all fairly normal, when 6...d6 would lead to a Delayed Steinitz. However, the best move, objectively, is probably the direct 6...d5!:

Following 7 exd5 Qxd5 Black has free development and can continue ...Be7, ...Bg4 and often castle queenside, depending on White's reaction. In Bacrot, E - Bilych, O play reached a completely equal ending, but then Black made a bizarre decision which left him with pawn weaknesses, and was ground down.

Spanish 3...a6 4 Ba4 Bc5 5 0-0 Nge7 6 c3 [C70]

I looked at this interesting line in the July update, and then played it myself (see the September update). After 6...Ba7 7 d4 Ng6 8 Bg5 f6 9 Be3 O-O 10 Nbd2 Kh8 11 Re1 d6 we reach the key mainline position:

Black plans ...f6-f5 with kingside play, but in Prraneeth, V - Esipenko, A the top seed in the World Junior showed that Black can also play on the queenside.

Spanish, Steinitz Deferred, 5 0-0 Bg4 6 h3 h5 [C72]

This sharp line is quite rare these days, and we last looked at this way back in 2008. Following 7 d4 b5 8 Bb3 Nxd4 9 hxg4 we previously concentrated on the capture 9...Nxb3, however, the most common move is 9...hxg4, opening the h-file immediately:

It is definitely time to look at this line again, and the game Stockfish dev16_202209170930 - rofChade 3.0 is very interesting, and shows that Black can hold his own even against near-perfect machine play.

Spanish. Marshall/Gajewski 8 c3 Na5 9 Bc2 d5 [C89]

Finally, another game from the World Junior illustrating Andrey Esipenko's interesting black repertoire. In a mainline Spanish after 8 c3, instead of 8...d6 or 8...d5 (with a Marshall Gambit) he played 8...Na5!? 9 Bc2 d5! which is like a Gajewski Variation, but slightly better as Black plays ...d5 in one go instead of two. Now, in Horvath, D - Esipenko, A White replied 10 d4, which is probably best:

The players then followed a game of Magnus Carlsen's until White innovated on move 14. Still, it's clear that this is a another really good line for Black where his pieces all reach natural, active squares.

Incidentally, instead of this, 10 exd5 e4! was analysed here by Victor ten years ago.

Until next month, Tony.

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