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This month we have a selection of games from the European Club Cup, where I also was taking part but failed to produce any games worthy of this column. Instead, we have two interesting ideas from Vishy Anand, who relied on the Open Spanish with the black pieces in a rare return to classical chess.

Download PGN of October ’23 1 e4 e5 games

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Scotch Game, 4...Qf6 5.Ne2!? [C45]

Another inventive opening idea from the Turkish talent in Gurel, E - Bartel, M. The rerouting of the knight to f4 quickly caused Black problems after 5... Bc5 6.Nf4 Ne5!? 7.Nc3 c6 8.Qe2 d6 9.Be3:

Even after the best move 9...Bg4 White should be able to claim an edge whilst following 9...Qe7?! Bartel never really got a satisfactory position against his young opponent. Probably 6...Nge7 should be preferred as a safer way to play.

Italian Opening, 5.d4 exd4 6.e5 d5 7.Bb5 Ne4 main line [C53]

Although black has many options which seemingly equalise against this forcing try for White, this line with 12...Bg6 is still the most popular and usually reaches the diagram below:

In Nilssen, E - Khadem, S the Black player chose an inaccurate setup with 17...Nf5?! and quickly landed in serious danger, but managed to turn the tables on her lower-rated opponent in time trouble. Still the alternatives 17...Ng6 or 17...Bg6 should be preferred.

Two Knights 4...h6 5.0-0 d6 6.c3 g5 [C55]

This way of playing has exploded with popularity with the black pieces recently, but here we saw a model game with White exploiting the long-term weakness of the f5 square. Following 7.a4 Bg7 8.a5:

Definitely my preference would be to ignore the a-pawn thrust with 8...Ne7, whilst instead after the natural 8...a6 the player with the black pieces never really got her play going in Radeva, V - Cyfka, K.

Two Knights 8.Bd3 Nd5 9.Nf3 Bd6 10.0-0 Nf4 [C58]

This option tends to lead to more positional play for Black than the wild alternative 10...0-0 11.Re1 f5!? Following 11.Nc3 Nxd3 12.cxd3 0-0 13.Re1 c5 14.b3 Nc6:

I prefer the more popular option of 15.Ba3 here over White’s choice of 15.Ne4 where he quickly ended up in hot water in Shevchenko, K - Bartel, M and was taken down by a well-executed kingside attack.

Spanish, Berlin Ending 9.h3 Ke8 10.Nc3 h5 [C67]

Two games here where the Berlin Wall came under serious pressure but still refused to crumble. First, 11.Ne2 was essayed in Grandelius, N - Sadhwani, R:

Following 11...b6 12.Rd1 I prefer keeping the light-squared bishop flexible with 12...Be7, whilst after 12...Bb7 13.Ned4 Nxd4 14.Nxd4 Be7 15.Bf4 Rd8 16.Nf5 Nils missed a couple of chances to put serious pressure on his young opponent and eventually the game was drawn.

Two rounds later, Sadhwani was surprised again by 11.Bg5 where 11...Be6 is definitely the preferred response now that White has taken away the g5 square for his knight. Instead after 11...Be7 12.Ne2 Be6 13.Nf4:

Black was already struggling against one of the stars of the tournament in Martirosyan, H - Sadhwani, R but gradually the pressure was neutralised and Raunak secured a vital draw for his team to win the event.

Spanish, Open 9.Nbd2 Nc5 10.c3 d4 11.Bxe6 Nxe6 12.cxd4 Ncxd4 13.a4 [C80]

Vishy showed good preparation in the Open Spanish in his first classical games since this same event in 2022. Firstly in the line 9...Nc5 10.c3 d4 11.Bxe6 Nxe6 12.cxd4 Ncxd4 13.a4:

This position has still been seen in hundreds of games but Vishy’s 13...Nc6!? Is a fresh idea which seems sound, although black’s other options are also holding up well. Black never really faced much danger in Suleymanli, A - Anand, V and comfortably defended the pawn-down ending.

Spanish, Open Variation 9.c3 Be7 10.Nbd2 Nc5 11.Bc2 d4 [C83]

Three days later against his countryman, Vishy revitalised a sideline which is rarely seen. Following 9...Be7 10.Nbd2 Nc5 11.Bc2 d4 12.Nb3:

In Sadhwani, R - Anand, V, Vishy eschewed the main line 12...d3 in favour of 12...dxc3!?, a sideline which has been used by Abdusattorov with some success. Raunak’s choice on move 17 left Vishy out of preparation but a couple of accurate moves solved all his problems and he made another relatively comfortable draw.

All the best, Harry

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