April '00 Update
Did you know that Gary Kasparov has been unable to beat the Dutch even once in three attempts? I bet there's no other Black opening that has as good a record against the World's highest rated player. Of course the theme here is fighting chess, not drawing chess, but it's still nice to know that there's nothing basically unsound in the Dutch which a genius can exploit to win every time.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this month's highlights.
As will be well known to devoted followers of the Stonewall, at the Wijk aan Zee Super GM tournament a couple of months ago, Anand scored a very convincing win against Nikolic with his plan of 5 Nh3 and 6 Nd2, see DD236. Not surprisingly this has become fashionable, and yours truly had to face it as Black at a recent tournament against the talented and well booked American girl Irina Krush. I tried the alternative plan of ...b6 and ....Bb7, which led to a highly interesting encounter, though a lot of questions remain unanswered about the value of White's system. Have a look at Krush - McDonald and see what you think.
The variation with 4 Nh3 is often the bane of a Leningrad player's existence, so it's nice to be able to present a nice win by Black. It seems that after 4...d6, White cannot hope for any real advantage by playing in 'classical' style by building up a centre with d5 and c4. The 'modern' ideas of 5 c3 or 5 Nc3, looking for piece activity rather than a lot of space, are more challenging. Take a peek at Saurash - Dzuhmaev.
Also in the Leningrad we examine White's early queenside fianchetto with 4 b3 and 5 Bb2 in the game Sharavdorj - Mahjoob. Although Black loses the game, analysis indicates that he missed the chance to generate a lot of counterplay. When you have played ...h6 and ...g5, the only way is forwards!
Here one of the critical lines 2 Bg5 g6 3 Nd2 Bg7 4 e4 dxe4 5 Nxe4 d5 6 Nc5 b6 7 Nb3 Nf6 8 Nf3 0-0 9 Be2 seems to lead to problems for Black. Pedersen in the 'Dutch for the Attacking Player' describes 9...Qd6 as the best move, but this is looking shaky due to White's improvement in Gretarsson - Wiley.
Some time ago, as recorded in DD129, we saw Veselin Topalov being crushed after his innovation 7...Nh6!? In fact, I still think this may be the most promising move for Black, it's just bad luck for it's reputation that Topalov went wrong later on and suffered such a dramatic defeat.
Finally, we examine the White attempt to deliver a knockout blow in the opening after 1 d4 f5 2 c4 Nf6 3 Nc3 g6 4 h4. A quick test: do you know whether Black should respond 4...d6 or 4...Bg7 here? They may both look natural, but there is a crucial difference! Have a look at Zsinka-I.Almasi to find out more.
They say that there's nothing new under the sun yet a while back the Armenian player Nadanian came up with 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Na4.
At first glance this looks like a beginners move, moving a piece twice in the opening and putting the knight on the edge of the board - a knight on the rim is grim! But the point is that Black's key move in the Gruenfeld, ...c7-c5, is now much more difficult (if not impossible) to execute. So how does he equalise?
News that Black had problems travelled fast. Articles starting appearing and strong GMs such as Korchnoi, Lalic, Gabriel, Kharlov and Golod started playing it. Yet as the theory became established Black started finding defences; the clearest antidote seemed to be 5...e5!? 6 dxe5 Bb4+ 7 Bd2 Ne3! 8 fxe3 Bxd2+ 9 Qxd2 Qh4+ 10 g3 Qxa4
with White struggling to prove anything - his extra pawn is part of a tripled, isolated 'island'. Yet one question I find interesting is whether White can sidestep this by first playing 4 Nf3 and only after 4...Bg7 playing a 'deferred Nadanian' with 5 cxd5 Nxd5 6 Na4.
The antidote given by Rowson ('Understanding the Gruenfeld', Gambit 1999) is 6...Bf5!?, stopping 7 e4 and threatening 7...Nb4.
Edvardsson - Bjarnasson from the recent Reykjavik Open confirmed 7 Nc5 b6 8 e4 bxc5 9 exf5 as being more than adequate for Black with Bjarnasson even improving for Black with 9...cxd4 instead of Rowson's 9...gxf5. But White has a number of other moves besides 8 Nc5.
A more heavyweight encounter from Reykjavik, Korchnoi - Ivan Sokolov, was probably more significant for what Korchnoi didn't play than what he did. His avoidance of his recently preferred anti-Gruenfeld treatment, 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Bd2, might indicate that his preference for this line might now be at an end. It might also have been a one-off decision to sidestep possible preparation by his opponent. In any event it seemed that Sokolov was improvising from the start and he handed the old warrior a passed d-pawn which gradually advanced down the board.
Slobodjan - Avrukh was also significant for what wasn't played rather than what was. As the players headed straight for the theoretical jungle of Khalifman vs. Israeli Gruenfeldeers, Slobodjan blinked first with 17 Bd2. After that he never really got going. That said, I dare say Avrukh would have had something in mind after the 'latest' 17 Bf3 Bf5 18 Bxa8 Bxb1 19 Bc6...