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It is refreshing to be able to pick from so many interesting OTB games once again, and I originally decided to base this month's update entirely on games from the Olympiad. I had nearly finished the update when I went to Italy to play the 64th Imperia tournament, which was nice: sun, sea, sand, pans full of pasta, Italian coffee, etc. However, I still couldn't find the time to finish the update and then I went to Turin for the Italian Team Championships, playing for the 'Dragonfly' team from Milan. Of course, 2 games a day doesn't leave a lot of time for anything else, but I have finally managed to put the finishing touches to it, although there are only 7 games from the Olympiad now, as I decided to include one of my own efforts.

Download PGN of September ’22 1 e4 e5 games

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Vienna Game 2...Nf6 3 f4 d5 4 fxe5 Nxe4 5 Qf3 Nc6 [C29]

Earlier this year I said that I like 5...Nc6 "which both threatens the e5-pawn and ... Nd4." When I saw Jumabayev play it against Alexei Shirov at the Olympiad I just had to have a closer look. The game continued 6 Bb5 Nxc3 7 dxc3 Qh4+ 8 g3 Qe4+ 9 Qxe4 dxe4 10 Bxc6+ bxc6 reaching an endgame where both sides have weakened pawn structures but where Black has the pair of bishops:

I think I prefer Black, but have a look at Shirov, A - Jumabayev, R which reached an interesting opposite-colour bishop ending where both players somehow seemed to be playing for the win.

Petroff Defence 3 Nxe5 d5 [C42]

Kamil Plichta from Poland wrote to me after last month's update: “I write to you because I have seen the latest update to 1.e4 e5 where you analysed the Damiano Petroff that goes 3...Nxe4. In May 2022 I published a course on on this specific variation, claiming that it is a dangerous weapon for faster time controls. I think that the current boost of popularity of this variation might be connected with this course.”

Here are the links to his work: - Damiano Petroff course and - free version of the course.

Kamil also sent me some of his analysis, which I have incorporated in a note to the next game, Gemy, J - Jobava, B, which features a pawn sacrifice that I have never seen before. Following 4 exd5 Qxd5 Black gains time on the knight and hopes that his free development compensates the pawn lost:

This line is a speciality of Jobava, but he only plays it very occasionally as it is not very sound and relies a lot on its surprise value. It could be fun to play in quick games, although I don't know if many players would be willing to repeat his amazing novelty on move 7!

Petroff Defence 3 d4 Nxe4 4 dxe5 d5 5 Nbd2 Nc6 [C43]

Following 6 Bb5 Bd7 7 0-0 can Black capture the pawn on e5?

Well, yes, he can, but no, he probably shouldn't! 7...Nxe5 is actually the most common move here, but is close to losing, see Gazik, V - Traore, B.

Giuoco Piano 4 d3 Bc5 5 c3 a6 6 Bb3 Ba7 7 h3 [C54]

7 h3 is a slow move, but is often a precursor to playing Nb1-d2-f1 to get the knight to g3 before castling so that White doesn't have to first play Re1 to free the f1-square. However, Black must take care as sometimes White will keep his king on e1 and play g2-g4 followed by Nf1-g3-f5 with a dangerous kingside attack. However, GM Mads Andersen has a good solution, after 7...d5 8 Qe2 dxe4 9 dxe4 Qe7 10 Nbd2 Be6 11 Bc2 he plays 11...0-0-0!:

It is really unusual to see Black castle queenside in the Giuoco Piano. But not only does the king reach relative safety on the queenside but Black also gets his rook straight to the open d-file. Have a look at the interesting game Yang, C - Andersen, M.

Two Knights Mainline 8 Bd3 Nd5 9 Nf3 Bd6 10 0-0 0-0 11 Re1 f5 [C58]

Following 8 Bd3 Nd5 9 Nf3 Bd6 10 0-0 0-0 11 Re1 f5 12 Nxe5 Qf6 13 Nf3 g5 I looked at the sharp piece sacrifice 14 c4 Nf4 15 Bf1 g4 16 d4 in the December 2021 update, but White does have a decent alternative, 14 g3:

Now, after 14...f4 White has to sacrifice his knight on f3 anyway, with 15 Nc3 fxg3 16 hxg3 Qxf3 reaching another complicated, but objectively level position. In Vallejo Pons, F - Andersen, M the Spanish GM plays an interesting and surprising novelty, but Black (Mads Andersen once again) defuses it with a series of accurate moves.

Spanish, Berlin Defence 4 0-0 Nxe4 5 Re1 Nd6 6 a4 [C67]

6 a4 is a tempting line to play against the solid Berlin, for after 6...Be7 7 Nc3 0-0 8 d4 Nxd4 9 Nxd4 exd4 White plays 10 Nd5! with dangerous threats and a useful development advantage for his two pawns:

Black is still OK here, but must be very precise and in Brkic, A - Abera, A he was quickly crushed.

Possibly Black should prefer the pragmatic approach and return the pawn immediately with 8...e4.

Spanish 3...a6 4 Ba4 Bc5 5 c3 Nge7 [C70]

While in Italy I was hoping to try some of the lines I've analysed here recently, and in Iannello, A - Kosten, A I played the 4...Bc5 5 0-0 Nge7 setup I looked at in July. However, while my opponent was pondering his next move it occurred to me that instead of playing 6 c3 White could perhaps capture on e5, and then ... he did! After 6 Nxe5 Nxe5 7 d4 b5 8 Bb3 Bxd4 9 Qxd4 d6 we reach a similar position to a Yurtaev line (which is considered fairly innocuous for Black), but here the black knight is on e7 rather than f6:

My opponent continued with 10 f4! and the game became very sharp. In the end I was grateful for the extra time I gained on the clock in the opening!

The day before I had also managed to try the Demchenko Variation which I have analysed of late, and this can be seen in the notes.

Spanish Yurtaev 3...a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 b5 6 Bb3 Bc5 7 a4 Rb8 8 Nxe5 [C78]

On a related note Hovhannisyan, R - Abasov, N features the analogous Yurtaev line, but with the addition of 7 a4 Rb8, which gives White extra possibilities based on opening the a-file at the right moment, and also avoids having the light-squared bishop trapped by ...c7-c5-c4. Once again the critical position occurs after White plays f2-f4:

White showed strong preparation involving a positional pawn sacrifice, but just a couple of days later Vrolijk managed to improve on Black's play and drew (see the note to move 18).

Until next month, Tony.

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