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e-mail 2.Bg5 h6 [A80]
A strange position where Black combines kingside expansion and queenside action before touching any of his pieces! The subscriber, Harvey Williamson, suggested that this is a novelty, but this isn't quite the case, as I found an obscure game where 4...c5 was played. However the idea deserves a closer look as I was unable to find anything convincing for White, see Game 1.
Anti-Dutch with Nc3 and Bg5 [A80]
In Game Two Miroshnichenko gets into trouble as Black against L'Ami. Indeed looking through a number of examples (see the notes) I get the impression that Black has difficulty in equalizing against White's quick development, that is with normal play. The fact that the white c-pawn isn't contributing to the cause was quickly rectified in this game by Nc3-a4 and c2-c4, creating central tension which Black found hard to cope with.
See the notes for a recent game involving a radical approach 6...c4!? in which Black came out on top in L'Ami-Pruijssers:
This could be the solution to Black's problems which seem to occur after 'routine development'.
b4 (without c4) versus the Leningrad [A81]
In Game 3, Van Wely-Sadler, the Englishman meets Van Wely's pet-line (5.b2-b4) with 5...d5:
In the game, Black lost due to a tactical oversight later on (time trouble?), but by playing with ...c5 (moves 15 and 22) I think that he could have obtained a comfortable game.
As for the opening, I quite like the alternative 5...Nc6, getting White to make an immediate decision about his b-pawn.
Classical Variation [A85]
The term 'Classical' is often used in the Dutch Defence. It sometimes refers to just about everything including d4 and c4 that isn't a Leningrad or Stonewall, but I consider it to be d4, c4, and Nc3, but without g3, a definition that is used by most of the sources that I have.
In Game 4 Black met Nc3 by ...Bb4, with a Nimzo-type set-up. White's Bd2 doesn't have a good reputation against the Nimzo-Indian, nor does it cause any problems here. Nikolic obtained a comfortable opening and then outplayed his opponent.
On the other hand playing with 4.Qc2, whilst avoiding N-f3, gives White some interesting options, as can be seen in Game 5. Christian Bauer eventually went down to Sergey Ivanov, but despite chances to save the game, White was always calling the shots.
The dynamic plan of fianchettoing both bishops is reasonable for Black, but White's centre stays intact and the e4-square isn't an issue, so Black may not be able to claim full equality here.
Leningrad 7...Qe8 8.Re1 [A87]
The game Bacrot-Pruijssers has theoretical importance, and my analysis here follows on from a reply I made to an email enquiry in the September 2012 update. Basically, despite Black's novelty, in Game 6 the Frenchman obtained an advantage but allowed his opponent to liberate with a nice tactical trick.
It doesn't look as if Pruijssers, or anyone else for that matter, has yet been able to demonstrate a way to equality after the game's 9.e4 fxe4 10.Ng5:
Unfortunately my attempt with 12...d5 has been refuted by a subscriber who demonstrates a very strong exchange sacrifice that I missed (both in September and in early December!). So the onus is on Black to find an improvement or vary early such as with 8...e5, but this also needs a closer look.
Leningrad 7...c6 [A88]
In Game 7 Gata Kamsky was able to win as Black. Coincidentally, it's in the same line of the Leningrad as his countryman (and arch-rival for the No.1 US spot) Hikaru Nakamura had used (earlier this year), against the unfortunate Boris Gelfand. This was no fluke. Kamsky placed the bishop on e6 (the idea is to drop back to f7 if need be) with influence on the c4 and d5-squares:
This plan hasn't escaped the attention of other Leningrad fans, as you'll notice in other game references from the previous couple of months. This idea is definitely more dynamic than 'temporizing' with ...Rad8 and ...Be6. Indeed, Boris Gelfand was soon all-at-sea against Kamsky's incisive play.
In Game 8 the surprising 9.Qb3 brought success for Belous against Nepomniachtchi in a recent rapid game:
However, a closer look at play in the late-opening/early middlegame phase suggests that Black was fine. So the choice of ...cxd5 seems to be correct, and it was Black who refused, a while later, the repetition that was on offer.
The highlight of the game was White's 26th move.
In Game 9 White played the fashionable 8.Rb1:
One reason it may be so in vogue is that there isn't anything special for White following 8.d5 e5, see Game 6!
A great fight followed as the quick advance of White's b-pawn turned out to be double-edged. Bartel gradually got the better of Khenkin in a complex middlegame only to throw away half-a-point in a technical endgame. He'll be kicking himself, but errors on move 86 can be explained by a combination of factors: Time trouble and energy depletion. Check my notes to learn how to win Rook and h-pawn on the fourth against bishop!
The Stonewall Nh3-f4 [A90]
Two veterans of the chess circuit battled out a Stonewall in Game 10 which uncharacteristically opened up and became quite sharp in the centre. Predrag Nikolic had an extra pawn and good winning chances, but allowed Kiril Georgiev to wriggle out.
As for the opening phase, the N-h3-f4 plan is sometimes avoided by Black players. However Nikolic doesn't seem to mind White hopping around with his knights, or even trading dark-squared bishops. Summing up: Black seems to be OK in the Stonewall.
Till next month, Glenn Flear
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