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Hello everyone,
This time I hope you will enjoy seeing top players battling each other in different lines of the Ruy Lopez, Italian and Petroff. The player's high level implies many interesting new ideas in the mainlines, but there are also some offbeat and well-forgotten lines.

Download PGN of September '10 1 e4 e5 games

Chigorin Variation [C96]

First up, Bacrot, E - Almasi, Z TCh-ESP CECLUB Honor 2010.

In this well-known position Bacrot decided to surprise his opponent with the rare 14.Nb3, but Almasi was ready and soon took control of the initiative. It seems that 14.Nb3 doesn't promise any advantage, but anyhow Black's play in this game was simply brilliant.

Breyer Variation [C95]

Gashimov, V - Navara, D TCh-ESP CECLUB Honor 2010.

In this position Gashimov tried the very rare 14.Bg5, instead of the almost automatic 14.Ng3. Black didn't succeed in solving all the problems and eventually went down, which suggests that the line with 14.Bg5 deserves further investigation and more practical tests.

Zaitsev Variation [C92]

Nakamura, H - Svidler, P 5th NH Chess Tournament 2010.

In the rare 12.Ng5 line Svidler played 13...Na5 (which was introduced by Israeli GM Alon Greenfeld in 1983) in this position instead of 13...Nb8, and soon equalised. The line with 13...Na5 looks playable, and what is more it's not so easy for White to even find a way to a slight edge.

Berlin Defence [C67]

Carlsen, M - Anand, V Arctic Stars Prelim 2010.

White has just played the rare 5.Re1, instead of much more common 5.d4, and Anand answered this with the even more offbeat 5...Nf6. Anand held the position without any visible problems and proved that this rare line is reasonable and deserves more practical tests.

In Polgar, J - Carlsen, M Stars Prelim 2010, it was Magnus who faced the main line of the Berlin, answering it with the rare 10...b6, which he had already tried last year.

Here Judith introduced a good novelty, 13.a4, which seems to set Black serious problems, but she went wrong just two moves later and soon Black was on top and won the game. Judith collapsed surprisingly easy, though the opening idea with 13.a4 is very promising. I'll be surprised if Carlsen repeats this line again.

Italian [C54]

In Anand, V - Hammer, J Arctic Stars Prelim 2010, the World Champion played a quiet line of the Italian, which looks rather toothless, but managed to outplay his opponent thanks to some good technique and his opponent's help towards the end of the game.

Above is the position after White's 11.Ng3. A not very spectacular game, but a high class performance from both players, except towards the very end of the game where the players exchanged mistakes. Nonetheless the opening line doesn't promise White any advantage.

Petroff [C41]

Leko, P - Gelfand, B Miskolc Rapid Match 2010.

In this well-known theoretical position Leko employed the extremely rare, but interesting idea 7.Nc3. Gelfand didn't react correctly and got into trouble straight out of the opening, and despite some tough defence White was victorious. White's 7.Nc3 deserves serious attention and I hope to see more practical tests in the nearest future.

Shirov, A - Gashimov, V TCh-ESP CECLUB Honor 2010, saw an important theoretical line.

In the diagram position Black introduced the novelty 19...Bf8, instead of the 19...Rcd8 played in Akopian, V - Kasimdzhanov, R Nalchik 2009. Later 21.Rae2 was critical, instead of the 21.g4 which allowed Black to obtain a comfortable position and later win the game, though not without some help from his opponent. The opening line deserves further practical tests when 21.Rae2 looks like a clear improvement.


See you next month, Victor.

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