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Hello everyone,
The only problem for this update was to choose from the hundreds and thousands of games played in the 2016 Olympiad in Baku, and so it will be entirely focused on this unforgettable event.

Download PGN of September ’16 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish. The Open, Keres Variation with 9.Qe2 Nc5 [C81]

The game Perez Ponsa, F - Ding Liren, 42nd Olympiad Baku 2016, featured an interesting old line in the 9.Qe2 system with 9...Nc5.

Here, after 14.Rd2, Ding Liren introduced a logical new move, 14...Nd8, where the four previous tries were unsuccessful. After some logical play from both sides Black played the inaccurate 19...Kh8, instead of 19...Qf5, which promises equal chances. Nevertheless, a convincing win for the Chinese GM anyway. The old line with 9...Nc5 continues to gain popularity and I expect to see more games with it, although both 11.cxb3 and the more common 11.axb3 have to be considered by Black players.

Spanish. The Open variation with 9.Nbd2 [C83]

In the game Harikrishna, P - Caruana, F 42nd Olympiad Baku 2016, the players discussed a topical line of the 9.Nbd2 system.

Here the Indian GM was the first to surprise his opponent with the novelty 16.Bf4, instead of the more common 16.Re1. Fabiano reacted reasonably well, but his 20...Qc8 was a mistake. Fortunately, for Black Harikrishna also missed the right idea and the game was eventually drawn. 16.Bf4 is interesting and may lead to big complications.

Spanish. Berlin with 6.Re1 [C67]

Robson, R - Grischuk, A 42nd Olympiad Baku 2016, featured the quiet line with 6.Re1, in which White usually plays for one of two results.

In the well-known diagram position White employed a very rare idea of his teammate, Nakamura, 16.g3. In the middlegame Robson missed several chances to set certain problems and then even lost after misplaying an equal position in time trouble. A painful loss for the American player. However, the opening line is not without venom and Black has to be very accurate to retain equality.

Spanish. Delayed Steinitz 7.h4!? [C75]

A short, but interesting tactical battle took place in the game Shirov, A - Rapport, R 42nd Olympiad Baku 2016.

Shirov, faithful to his style, provoked complications by means of 7.h4. Rapport reacted correctly, but erred with the over-ambitious 11...f5? Then he found himself in a very unpleasant position, which became hopeless after a miscalculation, 17...Ng6?? Although Black seems to obtain decent play by means of 11...Nf6 instead, 7.h4 is not without venom.

Two Knights with 4...h6 [C55]

Another game from the Hungarian GM, Rodrigez Villa, A - Rapport, R 42nd Olympiad Baku 2016, saw another rare line.

In this already uncommon position Black played the even more infrequent 6...g5, instead of the normal 6...g6. White reacted pretty well, but his 13.f3 was inaccurate and allowed Black to equalise. However, he continued playing well and could have hoped for an edge had he played 23.Ng4. Instead he committed the decisive mistake 23.Qd4 and lost. The idea of 6...g5 is interesting, although it seems that White should be able to obtain an edge with some precise play.

Italian with 7.a4 h6 [C54]

The game Karjakin , S - Navara, D 42nd Olympiad Baku 2016, featured one branch of the fashionable line with 7.a4.

After some transpositions the players reached this important position from the recent game Giri, A - Caruana, F/Leuven BEL 2016. Here Karjakin introduced the strong novelty 14.Nb3!, Navara failed to react correctly and his position collapsed very quickly. A surprisingly easy win for Karjakin - his opening novelty 14.Nb3 is a serious test of Black's setup. So Black should either find a way to deal with it, or use one of the alternatives on the previous move.

Another version of the Italian with a4 was seen in the game Nepomniachtchi, I - So, W 42nd Olympiad Baku 2016.

Here the American GM introduced the new idea of 11...c6, instead of the 11...Re8 from Kramnik, V - Aronian, L Stavanger NOR 2016. White played slightly inaccurately with 13.Nbd2, 17.e5 and mainly 19.dxe5?!, came under pressure and eventually collapsed. A well-played game by Wesley So, while his opening idea 11...c6 will surely be discussed in the near future.

Petroff with 3.Nxe5 and 8.Nbd2 [C42]

In the game Adams, M - Wang Yue 42nd Olympiad Baku 2016, the English GM followed a recent trend and played 8.Nbd2:

The players were up to the task for the first 26 moves, but Black's 26...Qc1?! was inaccurate and led to some problems, which Black didn't manage to solve. A nice technical win for the English number one player, the line with 8.Nbd2 can be recommended for players who look for a very slight edge from the opening and have good technique. 26...Qc4 is a serious improvement over Black's play.

See you next month, Victor.

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