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Hello everyone,
In this update there's a mix of well-forgotten and rare lines which haven’t made it to our pages yet and also some critical theoretical lines, which are very popular in the modern chess world.

Download PGN of September ’17 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish. Breyer Variation 11...c5 12.d5 [C95]

The game Dai Changren - Kramnik, V World Cup(1.1) 2017 saw a rare line of the Breyer Variation with 11...c5. White reacted with 12. d5, instead of the more popular 12.Nf1

The players followed the game Topalov, V - Carlsen, M/Astana 2012 for the first 14 moves, reaching the above diagram position. Here Kramnik deviated with 14...a5 instead of 14...Nc5. Later White committed a mistake, 19.Qd2? instead of 19.Qe2, and after 19...a4! Black obtained the upper hand and eventually won the game, but not without mistakes from both sides. The line with 11...c5 is interesting and requires more practical tests.

Spanish. Marshall 12.d3 Bd6 13.Re1 Bf5 14. Qf3 Re8 [C89]

In the game Kovalenko, I - Kravtsiv, M World Cup(1.1) 2017, an important line of the Marshall appeared on the board after 14...Re8:

In the diagram position Kovalenko opted for 15.Be3, which looks like a weird choice as Black obtains the bishop pair for free and has at least a couple of good reactions. 15.Rxe8 is the main line. The most recent example of this line on our pages is Volokitin, A - Van Foreest, L/Novi Sad SRB 2016 [Mikhalevski,V] Kravtsiv reacted with the simple 15...Nxe3 (15...Qd7 is also equal) and after 16.Rxe3 Rxe3 17.Qxe3 Bxd3 he obtained a comfortable position. After a few inaccuracies from White Black then seized the initiative and eventually won the game. I have to repeat that 15.Be3 is a weird opening choice when you're trying to play for a win, and 15.Rxe8 is the only attempt to set problems in this line.

Spanish. The Open variation 9.Be3 Be7 10.c3 0-0 11.Nbd2 Bg4 [C83]

An interesting line of the Open Spanish took place in the game Bacrot, E - Gozzoli, Y 92th ch-FRA 2017.

Black’s last move 11...Bg4 is an interesting deviation from two more popular lines: 11...Nxd2 and 11...Qd7. After the critical 12.Nxe4 dxe4 13.Qd5 Qxd5 14.Bxd5 exf3 15.Bxc6 fxg2 White played Caruana’s 16.Re1, which has only been introduced in 2016. Black was up to the task and only erred with 27...Rd4?, but White returned the favour and after 30.b6? The position was balanced again and the game was drawn. An important game for the theory of the 11...Bg4-line. 26...Rf4 is the best way to equality.

Spanish. The Exchange variation with 5...Bd6 6.d4 exd4 7.Qxd4 f6 [C69]

In the game Liu Guanchu - Mamedyarov, S World Cup(1.1) 2017, Black went for the interesting line with 5...Bd6 and soon the players reached the diagram position below:

White’s next move 8.Nc3 is standard for many positions in the Exchange Variation, but pretty rare for the diagram position. 8.Be3 with the idea of placing the queen knight on d2 is much more popular. His 13.Nb3?! was already dubious and allowed Black to seize the initiative with 13...Qe7!, when 13.Qd3 would allow White to retain the balance, and after a couple more mistakes White was already lost. A convincing victory for the Azeri GM, who easily outplayed his less-experienced opponent. The line with 5...Bd6 is playable, but has to be met by 8.Be3 and 9.Nd2. White's opening setup with the knight on c3 promises no chances for an advantage.

Spanish. Anti-Berlin 4.d3 Bc5 5.Bxc6 dxc6 6.Nbd2 Nd7 7.Nc4 0-0 8.0-0 Re8 9.Bd2 [C67]

The game Wei Yi - Grischuk, A Tch-CHN 2017, saw an important branch of the Anti-Berlin with 4.d3.

In the position given above Black played 9...Bd6, instead of the 9...Bf8 which we earlier analysed in Anand, V - Kramnik, V/London ENG 2012 [Mikhalevski,V]. After a pretty natural follow-up 10.Bc3 c5 11.a4 f6 12.Nh4 Nf8 White introduced a new move 13.g3, instead of the 13.Ne3 or 13.Nf5 played in two preceding games. Grischuk reacted well with 13...Bh3 14.Ng2 Qd7! and was precise to the end, which allowed him to retain an equal position. A well-played game by both players, Grischuk showed a good understanding of these type of positions and equalised comfortably. The ball is in White's court.

Four Knights, Rubinstein's line 4.Bb5 Nd4 5.Bc4 Bc5 6.Nxe5 [C48]

A pretty rare, but interesting line was seen in the game Lu Shanglei - Li Chao TCh-CHN 2017.

In the diagram position Black played 6...Qe7!, which after 7.Nf3 d5 8.Bxd5 Bg4 9.d3 0-0-0 10.Bg5 led to a very interesting theoretical position. Li Chao continued with 10...Bb4 instead of 10...Bh5 as played in Sutovsky, E - Kramnik, V/Baku AZE 2010 [Mikhalevski,V] Both players were well-prepared and followed a correspondence game of two little-known players for the first 15 moves. Lu Shanglei deviated from that game with 16.Ke2, instead of 16.Kf1, and after precise play from both sides the players repeated moves in an equal rook endgame. A short, but important game for theory. It shows that sharp theoretical lines sometimes lead to a draw faster than slow positional play. The ball remains in White's court, who is yet to demonstrate an opening advantage.

King’s Gambit 2...exf4 3.Nc3 Qh4+ 4.Ke2 [C33]

A pretty rare opening line occurred in the blitz game Kasparov, G - Karjakin, S St. Louis Blitz 2017.

Kasparov decided to surprise his opponent with a rare system of the King’s Gambit, but the current vice-champion then surprised the ex-champion with the rare, but nevertheless interesting 4...Qd8. Kasparov praised his opponent for this practical decision in the interview given by him after the game. After 5.d4 Nf6 6.Bxf4 Bb4! Garry reacted inaccurately with 7.Bg5?! and after 7...Bxc3! 8.bxc3 d6 obtained a slightly worse position, which soon became even worse after 20.Kg1? An interesting game, in which the current vice-champion outplayed the ex-world champion but failed to convert his advantage when one step away from a win. The King's Gambit with 3.Nc3 may serve as a surprise weapon, which is especially effective in blitz games. 7.Nd5!? or 7.e5!? has to be preferred over 7.Bg5?!

Bishop’s Opening 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 Bd6 6.Nc3 d4 [C24]

The game Grischuk, A - El Gindi, E World Cup(1.1) 2017, saw the Bishop’s opening with 3...c6.

In the line with 6...d4, which is considered to be dubious, 6...dxe4 is more common, the players reached the diagram position after a series of natural moves. Here Black played 13...Ng8?!, instead of 13...h6, which promises Black reasonable play. After 14.Bd2! Grischuk obtained a pleasant advantage, which he kept throughout the game. A well-played game by Grischuk despite a slight slip in time trouble. The line with 6...d4 is probably better than it's reputation, but Black's play after 6...dxe4 looks simpler.

See you next month, Victor.

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