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The Accelerated Queen's Indian (TAQID) 3.Nf3 Bb7 4,g3 c5 [A50]
White proposed steering the TAQID into a mainstream QID in Hilby, C - Jacobson, B but Black wanted a more dynamic struggle by instead seeking a sort of Benko-style interpretation.
Clearly the game move 5...b5!? is justified in terms of the 'need to challenge for space', and it turned out that the loss of a tempo didn't became a serious issue. The middlegame resembled those from various Benko Declined lines where Black has played ...b4. Jacobson went on to win this game, despite the fact that it was fairly balanced for most of the encounter. I just felt that he was the more determined of the two overall.
The Accelerated Queen's Indian (TAQID) 3.f3 Nc6 4.Nc3 e5 5.d5 [A50]
In Zaja, I - Fercec, N White showed an aggressive streak right from the start:
His early plan, including this eyebrow-raising thrust, was essentially concerned with dominating Black's knights. After 6.g4 Ng6 White followed-up with 7.h4 and then even a couple more pawn moves! Here space seemed to be more important than routine development as he maintained a pull and was able to post a knight on the advanced f5-outpost. This global strategy is one's of White's best antidotes to the TAQID.
Nevertheless, I don't think that Black's position was objectively too bad, but he mistimed his attempted 'liberation' with ...g6 and thus dropped a pawn. Later on, Zaja was unable to resist the temptation of capturing a second pawn with check but, surprisingly, his natural impulse to further punish his opponent proved to be an error that allowed Fercec to escape.
The Accelerated Queen's Indian (TAQID) 3.Nc3 Bb7 4.Qc2 d5 [A50]
In Stefansson, H - Indjic, A a line that I have previously examined for ChessPublishing was given a further test. Here the most notable moment in the early play was White's 6.Nf3 which cuts out the more combative ...e5 lines. I have generally been less enthusiastic about those set-ups where Black plays with ...e6, but here Indjic was gradually able to equalize. The third way is with the Grünfeld-style ...g6, but that's another story.
The pawn structure that arose in the featured game was not only reminiscent of a Semi-Tarrasch (D41) but it turns out that one of the game segments did indeed transpose. So maybe some homework that includes referencing the ChessPublishing 1.d4 d5 2.c4 column might be advisable for greater understanding. It's amazing where playing the TAQID can take you!
I suspect that the rook endgame should have been a draw, but White was unable to find the best defence.
The Accelerated Queen's Indian (TAQID) 3.Nf3 Bb7 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.0-0 0-0 7.Re1 [A50]
In Oparin, G - Ipatov, A White was again successful in an endgame where he only had a minimal advantage. In the modern world, the slightest of edges can be hard to defend against as time limits are so fast these days!
This is another instructive example of Black opting for ...c5 followed by ...b5, but on this occasion in a 'Double Fianchetto Defence' context. Once again there was definitely a Benko Declined flavour about the resulting middlegame. Although ...bxc4 erodes the central grip, after recapturing with a piece, White then has a fine outpost that offers him more constructive options. Oparin skillfully used his slight space advantage to create a few practical problems for his opponent, but it was Ipatov's poor 41st move that was the root cause of his demise. I have blundered so often myself on move forty-one, I'm no longer surprised when it happens to others!
Modern Benko Gambit Accepted 6...Bg7 7.e4 0-0 8.Be2 [A58]
A critical line was tested in Tang, A - Escalante Ramirez, B:
Although the 13.h4 thrust has been known about for some time, recent examples show that Black has to be very careful not to get into trouble down the h-file. My feeling is that he needs to block the h-pawn with his own, despite the evident weakening of the g5 and g6-squares.
In the game, after 13...Bxe2 14.Qxe2 h5 15.Qe3 f4 Black still failed to equalize, which is another success story for the critical 'Anti-Modern Benko' sequence 8.Be2 Qa5 9.Bd2 Bxa6 10.e5 which has been causing difficulties of late. My suggestion is to examine alternatives on move thirteen, and in particular 13...h5, so there is no need for Benko players to despair just yet.
Modern Benko Gambit Accepted 6...Bg7 7.e4 0-0 8.Nf3 Qa5 [A58]
White was able to obtain a bind in Martinez Ramirez, L - Ortiz Suarez, I which led to some advantage, and Black found himself on the defensive throughout the game.
The key moment occurred around move fourteen after 14.Qe2:
To get his infantry moving, Black should have played ...d5, either immediately on move fourteen, or perhaps on move fifteen. Instead, allowing his opponent to fix the central pawns with 14...Na6 15.0-0 Qc6?! 16.e5! wasn't a good idea.
The struggle that ensued was something of a marathon, but an uphill one from Black's point of view.
Dutch Stonewall-Leningrad hybrid [A81]
I'm not quite sure how the game Yakubboev, N - Sandipan, C finished, as the moves that I downloaded are clearly well off the mark. Even so, the opening and early middlegame play by Sandipan are fascinating and demonstrate how this hybrid system can be used to confuse and outplay an opponent. The diagram position looks odd, but Sandipan has honed this offbeat idea into quite a nifty little system:
The first few moves can be varied and jiggled, no doubt, but the jist of it is that the sequence 1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 4.Nf3 g6!? is certainly going to get the opponent thinking! Whether or not Black is able to get the positive aspects of both a Leningrad and a Stonewall is debatable, but some of White's tricky early deviations can thus be avoided.
Dutch Defence 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.Qc2 [A85]
Saduakassova, D - Anton Guijarro, D was a tense struggle between a couple of rising stars. The sequence 1.d4 f5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.Qc2 looks closely related to a Nimzo after Black's 4...Bb4. In order to avoid an annoying outpost on e4 White usually follows up with e3, Bd3, Nge2, and f3. The most trustworthy response from Black then generally involves a timely ...c5 to challenge White's centre. I'm always a little hesitant about any lines that involve pushing the 'c' and 'f' pawns (whilst leaving the central 'd' and 'e' ones in reserve) as this can lead to weaknesses in the heart of one's position. Here, however, there seems to be enough dynamic activity for the second player to justify this strategy.
Dutch Leningrad 7.Nc3 c6 8.Rb1 [A88]
The game Kjartansson, G - Lagarde, M flowed quite well for Black throughout. If, as here, a lower-rated player can't create any opening problems for his stronger opponent, then defending against incessant pressure can be hard work in what follows. Clearly White's opening was not challenging enough. Therefore, it feels that if ...Na6 is played early then an appropriate strategy should be to make ...Nc5 either impossible or at least to come at a price. So at some point b2-b4 should have been played to keep the knight out of the game (see the notes for possibilities on moves ten or eleven). Surely this theme is one of the reasons that 8.Rb1 is so popular? When Kjartansson did play 12.b4 it was too late and just helped the knight on it's way to e4.
Dutch Leningrad 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.d5 Ne5 9.Nxe5 dxe5 10.c5 [A89]
It's quite a surprise to see the 7...Nc6 variation played in such a high-level encounter as Navara, D - Vitiugov, N. A risky choice, as this line has the reputation of being 'speculative at best'. If 'surprise value' was sought, then it failed to rattle Navara who found a convincing way to keep an advantage.
Here 15.d6! created difficulties for Black, but it did require some precise moves to keep control, whereas things could easily have gone wrong at a lesser level. Personally, I don't like this line for Black for long-play chess, but at quicker time limits it might be worth a punt.
Till next month, Glenn Flear
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