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This month I have switched from covering the King's Indian to analysing the 1.e4 e5 systems. My plan is to cover the topical theoretical lines, where the priority is given to games from the top players.
I hope you'll enjoy my first king pawn update.

First, Forum member Micawber has updated his fantastic Two Knights Forum analysis digest, and it is available to everyone as a download once again by clicking here: Download Games. A great resource, and well worth going through! Many thanks!

Download PGN of October '08 1 e4 e5 games

The Spanish Open Variation [C82]

I would like to start with my own game, Garcia, G - Mikhalevski, V, Miami Open 2008, which saw an old, but extremely interesting line. It's enough to say that it has been studied and checked in practice by Botvinnik, Boleslavsky and many other great players.

Here, instead of the most popular 17.hxg3, which leads to a very complicated and unbalanced position, my opponent played the rare 17.Rf2. While the opening line is rather risky for Black, the player with the White pieces needs to have strong nerves to withstand Black's attack on the kingside. However, objectively 17. Rf2 is probably better than the main line 17.hxg3.

The game Sutovsky, E - Svetushkin, D, TCh-Serbia 2008, saw an important move in the following position:

Sutovsky played 16.Qe3! which seems to be a serious blow to the entirely line. Though this move was played at least a few times earlier it's not widely known.

A nice win from Sutovsky, which proves once again that the line which occurred in the game is problematic for Black.

The Marshall Attack [C89]

A well-known theoretical endgame in the Marshall Attack with 12.d3 occurred in Bacrot, E - Aronian, L, 24th ECC Kallithea 2008.

Bacrot's improvement comes as late as move 24, but with a series of precise moves Aronian equalises the game. Though some precise play is required from Black this endgame seems to be objectively equal, and so White is now playing the 12.d4 line more, as in the following games.

One of the key positions in the 12.d4 system occurred in the game Naiditsch, A - Sargissian, G, 24th ECC Kallithea 2008. This is the position which arises after 19.f3, which was introduced by Kramnik:

Sargissian answered with Svidler's 19...Rf6, but Naiditsch was ready and responded with the strong novelty 20.Qg2 and won convincingly. A very good game by Naiditsch as White's novelty was accompanied by precise play. This game may question Svidler's idea of 19...Rf6.

In Bacrot, E - Jakovenko, D, 24th ECC Kallithea 2008, Black played another important line, this time with 19...Bf5, and once again White was the first to spring a surprise:

Here Bacrot introduced the interesting novelty 22.Bd1, which allows White to win an exchange. However, after 23...f5 it's easy to realise that it's better to delay accepting this exchange. That's exactly what Bacrot did and he soon took the initiative and won the game in fine style. A strong novelty from Bacrot was followed by a very strong follow-up which left Black with a difficult position. It seems that Black has to come back to 19...Nxe3, which I'll look at next month.

The Exchange Variation [C69]

Vachier Lagrave, M - Ivanchuk, V, Trophee CCAS, GpA rapid 2008, featured the most popular line of the Exchange variation, with 5...f6. The Frenchman tried to set some problems with 19.Ncd5, which he played in the diagram position:

Ivanchuk reacted very solidly and soon it was White who had to equalise. The game proved once again that White can't hope for a serious advantage in the Exchange Variation. At the same time Black has to be precise to maintain equality.

Italian Game [C54]

In the following diagram position, from Lahno, K - Ivanchuk, V, Trophee CCAS, GpA rapid 2008, Black played the relatively rare line 9...Nh5:

Soon Black obtained a comfortable position. An exchange of mistakes only improved Black's position and already by move 20 he was clearly better. Ivanchuk proves that the rare line with 9...Nh5 deserves serious attention.

The Petroff [C42]

In the game Ivanchuk, V - Kosteniuk, A, CCAS, GpA rapid 2008, the Ukrainian GM introduced a novelty in the following position:

Here he played 13.Kb1, but obtained a rather equal endgame. Despite a few inaccuracies from Black the position remained equal for most of the game and it was only after 59...Rxg6? that Black had no way to escape anymore. Ivanchuk's novelty doesn't seem to be too strong as the resulting endgame is equal.

Enjoy the issue and see you soon in November, Victor.

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