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Hello everyone,
September saw a number of top level events. Most of the games in this update are either taken from the 2nd Grand Slam Final in Bilbao or the 2nd Pearl Spring in China. So the field is extremely strong and the games not only demonstrate a high level of play but also include some important opening novelties.

Download PGN of October '09 1 e4 e5 games

Marshall [C89]

The game Shirov, A - Aronian, L, 2nd Grand Slam Final 2009, saw an interesting and important novelty in the following position:

Here Black played 21...Bh3! instead of 21...Rfe8. Shirov erred with 25.Re2?, but his position remained playable until he committed the decisive mistake 29.Qf3?? After 29...Qg6 he resigned. After Aronian's novelty we can say that the line chosen by Shirov doesn't promise any opening advantage.

Zaitsev System [C92]

At least three important games were played with the Zaitsev Variation in Bilbao and I decided to analyse all of them.

Let's start with the game Karjakin, S - Grischuk, A, 2nd Grand Slam Final 2009, which featured Topalov's 13.d5 in the 12.a3 line.

In the diagram position Black played 14...Nbd7 instead of Morozevich's 14...c6, but also failed to equalise. Black should have played 18...d5 instead of 18...Re7? and though White's position looks promising it's not easy to prove it concretely. A crushing victory for Karjakin. At the present time the line with 13.d5 is a real headache for Black, who has lost every game in it.

The next two games featured the old main line with 12.a4.

The game Shirov, A - Karjakin, S, 2nd Grand Slam Final 2009, saw 24.Nxb5 in the diagram position below:

Karjakin answered with the new move 24...Qa5 and eventually equalised. An important and error-free game. It seems that 24.Nxb5 doesn't promise any advantage.

Another attempt to fight for the advantage, Kasparov's 22.Bb2, was tested in the game Grischuk, A - Karjakin, S, 2nd Grand Slam Final 2009:

Following 22...Qa5 23.Nf5 an important position has arisen. Karpov failed to find the correct defence here in the 14th game of his Leningrad/London match against Kasparov and eventually lost. Karjakin played 23...g6!, which was recommended by Kasparov in the annotations to the afore-mentioned game. After strong play from both sides an equal position was reached, but then, after the over-optimistic 35.Nxh6?!, Black grabbed the initiative, but Grischuk managed to hold a draw with accurate defence. So in this line Black also solved his opening problems successfully. Right now the line with 12.a3 and Topalov's 13.d5 looks the most promising.

The Exchange Variation [C69]

The game Karjakin, S - Aronian, L, 2nd Grand Slam Final 2009, featured the rare line with 5...Be7.

In the diagram position Aronian introduced virtually a new plan 6...f6!?, with the subsequent ...g5 and ...Nh6-f7 instead of 6...Bf6, which was previously played in this position automatically. Black equalised surprisingly easy and even had chances for a win after a White inaccuracy. Aronian's idea looks interesting and I'm expecting more practical tests in the near future.

Scotch [C45]

The game Carlsen, M - Leko, P, 2nd Pearl Spring 2009, saw Chigorin's(!) 10.f4, and an important position with compensation for a pawn arose after 15.d5:

Here Leko introduced the novelty 15...a6 - earlier Black had tested 15...Rd8, 15...Qd7 and 15...Bd7. White created pressure on the queenside, while Black was rather passive throughout the game and his mistake 23...Ng8? only helped White to increase his advantage. A good positional achievement from Carlsen, who didn't give his opponent a single chance. It seems that the position with an extra pawn is unpleasant practically, though objectively Black's position may be holdable.

Four Knights [C48]

The game Bacrot,E-Sargissian, Inventi GM Antwerpen 2009, saw White win again with Najer's surprising line 6.gxf3! in the following position:

Already Black's 7...Nh5?! was wrong, which White refuted in style, though not without further help from Black. The line will see more practical tests, but right now the ball is in Black's court, who has to find a good defence against this interesting idea.

Petroff Defence [C43]

The game Jakovenko,D-Wang Yue, 2nd Pearl Spring 2009, featured an important novelty in a line which is becoming extremely popular.

Here Black played 8...c5!, which is an improvement upon Gelfand's 8...Be7. The critical position arose after 17...Qb6:

Here White played 18.Qe3 and Black managed to equalise. A very interesting game. Undoubtedly we'll see more tests of this fascinating line in the near future. 18.Qb3 looks like a possible improvement, though only practical tests can show if White can set serious problems.


See you next month, Victor.

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