ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Hello everyone,
This month I want to focus on a top tournament in the US, the Sinquefield Cup.
As usual, one of the most popular openings in our category is the Giuoco Piano and so you’re going to see several different versions of this complicated system.

Download PGN of September ’21 1 e4 e5 games

>> Previous Update >>

Spanish, Berlin endgame 9.h3 Bd7 10.Rd1 Be7 11.Nc3 [C67]

Vachier Lagrave, M - Xiong, J 8th Sinquefield Cup, Saint Louis 2021.

White has just played 11.Nc3, instead of the main line 11.g4, and Black answered with the extremely rare 11...Ke8, instead of the almost automatic 11...Kc8. MVL continued with 12.g4 Nh4 13.Nxh4 Bxh4 14.Bf4 White just gets on with development and it doesn’t look like he has any aggressive plans. Black replied with a new move, 14...Rd8, when the only preceding games saw 14...Be7. White continued with 15.Kg2, but after 15...Be7 suddenly played 16.Be3 preparing an advance of the f-pawn. However, the plan turned out to be wrong. When after 16...a5 he played 17.f4?! h5 18.f5?! Black could meet it with 18...g6! with the slightly better chances for Black. Instead, Black committed a big mistake, 18...hxg4? and found himself on the ropes. 11...Ke8 doesn't promise full equality, the main line 11...Kc8 looks preferable.

White’s plan in the game can be improved by means of 17.f3 h5 18.Ne2.

Spanish, Berlin 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 d5 6.exd5 Qxd5 7.Bc4 [C65]

Shankland, S - Mamedyarov, S 8th Sinquefield Cup, Saint Louis 2021.

In the well-known diagram position Black decided to surprise his opponent with 7...Qd8, although Mamedyarov already played like this twice, when the main line is 7...Qd6.

White came up with the immediate novelty, 8.Bg5!?, and 10 days later the Azeri player faced 8.Nbd2. Surprisingly, after 8...h6 White’s next move, 9.Bh4?! was already inaccurate as 9.Bxf6 was necessary. Shakhriyar underlined the incorrectness of the text with 9...g5! 10.Bg3 and 10...e4 and obtained a nice position. Mamedyarov's 7...Qd8!? is an interesting deviation from the main line 8...Qd6, White's 9.Bg5 is also decent, but after 9...h6 he has to play 10.Bxf6.

Giuoco Piano 5.d4 exd4 6.e5 d5 7.Bb5 Ne4 8.cxd4 Bb6 9.Nc3 0-0 10.Be3 Bg4 11.Qc2 [C54]

Caruana, F - Svidler, P 8th Sinquefield Cup, Saint Louis 2021.

White has just chose 11.Qc2, instead of the main line 11.h3, Peter answered with the rare, but reasonable 11...Bxc3, instead of the much more popular 11...Bf5. The game continued 12.bxc3 f6! 13.Bxc6 bxc6, when the intermediate 13...Bxf3 was also interesting. 14.exf6 Qxf6 15.Ne5 Bf5 and here Caruana introduced the novelty 16.Qa4. It doesn’t look scary for Black and Svidler answered it with 16...c5, but after 17.0-0 he went for the concrete 17...cxd4 (17...c4 looks safer) 18.cxd4 c5 initiating some exchanges. However, the position with opposite-coloured bishops after 19.dxc5 Qxe5 20.cxb6 axb6 is not completely equal. Now White could try to set some problems by means of 21.Qb3!, but instead 21.Qb4 allowed Black to play 21...Be4! and after 22.Qxb6 he could play 22...Ra4 equalising. White's play can be improved by means of 21.Qb3, while Black's 17...c4 looks safer than 17...cxd4.

Guioco Piano 5.d3 d6 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 [C54]

Dominguez, L - Svidler, P 8th Sinquefield Cup, Saint Louis 2021.

In the diagram position Black played the rare 7...Qe7 where earlier we considered three alternatives: 7...g5, 7...a6 and 7...a5. White replied with 8.0-0 a6 9.b4, when 9.Nbd2 is also possible. The game continued 9...Ba7 10.Nbd2 g5 11.Bg3 Nh7 to prepare the advance of the h-pawn, which also explains why Svidler delayed short castling. However, after 12.a4 his 12...h5?! was premature. Instead, he had to transpose to the game Dominguez Perez,L -Grischuk,A Khanty-Mansiysk RUS 2019 [Mikhalevski,V] with 12...Nf8! Lenier reacted correctly with 13.h4 g4 14.Ne1 Nf8 15.Nc2 Ng6 16.Ne3 Be6 and introduced a logical novelty 17.b5!, instead of the 17.Qb3?! in Gabrielian,A -Parfenov,V Voronezh 2018. However, after 17...Nd8 his 18.d4?! was conceptually correct, but inaccurate. He had to start with 18.bxa6! and only after 18...bxa6 19.d4 promised him the upper hand. In the game he was still slightly better, but after mutual mistakes the game ended in a draw. A very complicated position arose right after the opening. It seems that 12...h5?! is premature, and Black has to prefer 12...Nf8.

Giuoco Piano 5.d3 0-0 6.0-0 d5 7.exd5 Nxd5 8.Re1 Bg4 9.Nbd2 Nb6 10.h3 Bh5 11.Bb3 Kh8 12.Ne4 [C54]

Vachier Lagrave, M - Swiercz, D 8th Sinquefield Cup, Saint Louis 2021.

In the position given above Black followed Aronian’s 12...Nd7!?, although Black has also tested the two bishop retreats 12...Be7 and 12...Bd6. The players followed the game Nepomniachtchi,I -Aronian,L 2020 for the first 17 moves, when Black introduced an improvement on Levon’s play, 17...Qh4! - Aronian was worse after 17...exd4. MVL surprised his opponent with 18.Nd2!?, which soon brought its fruits. After 18...exd4 19.Nc4 Black’s 19...Rd8?! was inaccurate, instead, 19...dxc3 was critical. In the game White obtained an edge and converted it into a win. Aronian's 12...Nd7 looks interesting, and Swiercz improvement, 17...Qh4! was strong, he just had to continue with 19...dxc3. Despite Black's loss the ball is in White's court.

Guioco Piano 5...d6 6.0-0 a6 7.a4 h6 8.Re1 Ba7 9.Nbd2 [C54]

Vachier Lagrave, M - Shankland, S 8th Sinquefield Cup, Saint Louis 2021.

In the diagram position Shankland played the extremely rare 9...Be6 and after 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Nf1 introduced a new move 11...a5!? In the only preceding game Black preferred 11...0-0, which transposed to a slightly more popular position. It’s hard to believe, but the natural 12.Ng3 was already inaccurate, White had to prefer 12.Be3, delaying Ng3 for the future. The problem with the text would have been 12...g5! 13.Be3 Bxe3 14.Rxe3 g4 15.Nd2 h5. Instead, in the game Sam played 12...Qd7 and the position remained roughly equal. 11...a5!? is an interesting novelty, while 12.Ng3 seems to be inaccurate, White has to prefer 12.Be3.

Guioco Piano 5...0-0 6.b4 Be7 7.0-0 d5 8.exd5 Nxd5 9.Re1 [C54]

Svidler, P - Mamedyarov, S 8th Sinquefield Cup, Saint Louis 2021.

Earlier we reviewed 9.b5, instead of the 9.Re1 of this game which Black answered by the main line 9...Bf6, although another interesting option is 9...a6. Svidler answered with 10.Ba3?!, which is dubious and leads to Black’s advantage, when instead, 10.Ng5 is roughly equal. Shakh reacted in the most principled way, 10...Re8! 11.Nbd2!? Nxc3! 12.Qb3 Be6 and obtained an edge. However, Peter defended well and saved half a point. The line with 6.b4 or 8.b4 if White starts with 6.0-0 doesn't promise any advantage, while 10.Ba3?! leads to Black's advantage. 11...Nxc3! is a strong novelty, which promises Black the upper hand.

Scotch Four Knights 10.h3 c6 11.Qf3 Bd6 [C47]

Xiong, J - Dominguez, L 8th Sinquefield Cup, Saint Louis 2021.

In the diagram position White played the very rare 12.Re1, instead of the main line 12.Bf4. Lenier replied with 12...Re8, and earlier we considered 12...h6, while 12...Be6 might be the most accurate way to play in this position. The game continued 13.Rxe8 Qxe8 14.Bf4! Qe7 15.Na4! c5 and now the most challenging would be 16.c4! Instead, Jeffery started with 16.Bxd6 Qxd6 and only then played 17.c4, which Black answered with 17...Bd7 and soon solved his opening problems. An easy draw for Dominguez, 12.Re1 doesn't look too challenging for Black, although the entire setup has a rather drawish tendency.


See you next month, Victor.

>> Previous Update >>

Please post your Kingpawn Opening queries on the 1 e4 e5 Forum, or subscribers can write to if you have any questions.