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Hi everybody,
This month I decided to have a good look at the 5 d4 Spanish. It does not give White any theoretical advantage but it is not without venom. It is rather easy to learn compared to the mass of information you have to know if you try to play the main lines of the Ruy Lopez, and could be utilized in rapid plays with good chances of sucess.
After that we will have a look at the Vienna with f4 and the Four Knights with 4 d4, and to finish, I will show you the refutation of an idea I proposed in March 06. Olivier

Download PGN of October '06 1 e4 e5 games

The 5 d4 Spanish [C84]

I will cut this study into two parts, 7 e5 and 7 Re1.

Part 1: 7 e5

In this line White will force a pawn structure that we have already studied in some lines of the Italian 3 Knights. If Black plays well and knows how to place his pieces he will be able to solve the positional problems. To study this line I selected some games of Kholmov who shows a deep understanding of these positions.

In the first game Bielczyk - Kholmov Black gained the opportunity to isolate the e5-pawn and win it:

In Petrov - Kholmov Black manoeuvred well with his pieces and White never had a chance to block Black's pawn structure. White even made a big mistake with 17 c3? in the diagram position:

This allowed Black to invade the d3-square later to good effect.

In Gashimov - Ivanchuk Black used the old idea of 13...Nc5 instead of the 13...Nd6 seen in the two previous games. He equalized very quickly and after a mistake White was forced to put his knight on a3:

Ivanchuk exploited this advantage with great mastery.

To conclude, I would say that after 13...Nd6 White should play 14 Bf4 and after 13...Nc5 he should chose 14 Be3. With best play the game should stay equal.

Part 2: 7 Re1

This line is much trickier and sets Black various difficult tactical problems. I will show how I think Black should handle them, but if our subscribers want to know more they should have a look at inferior choices by Black.

In Perez - De la Paz White selected a quiet continuation that set Black no particular problems:

You should be aware of the ...Qb8-b7 manoeuvre that Black plays in almost all the games I quote.

Instead, in Baratosi - Malaniuk, White completely misjudged the position after the opening. He thought that he could exploit the black weaknesses on the kingside:

but it was not possible and with a lot of energy Malaniuk put the ball in the back of the net! My advice in this line is to play 11 Bg5 instead of 11 Nf5.

To conclude, I would say that 7 Re1 sets more tactical problems but subscribers interested in playing this with White should chose line 1) or 2) according to their style.

Vienna Gambit [C29]

In Istratescu - Karpov I will show some very safe plans for Black against the f4 Vienna which appears really harmless nowadays:

The game itself, played in a rapid match in 2005, shows the great skill of Karpov in defence and his deep preparation in the opening. This line was no surprise for him.

Scotch Four Knights [C47]

Here I decided to comment on a very classical Four Knights with d4 to show that after 11 Qf3 Be7 is perfectly playable:

Black got a small advantage in Ghaem Maghami- Sasikiran and could have had more, but tenacious defense allowed White to equalize.

Rade - Azarov shows the refutation of an idea I suggested in March 2006. Have a look!

The diagram shows the position after the killing new move 12 Bf4! instead of 12 Bxb4.

Thanks for your emails and see you next month. Olivier Renet

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