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English Defence [A40]
Two games this time in the line 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.Ne2 which yields the following position:
Many years ago I had this, as White, against Tony Miles and was horribly outplayed. In fact, a generation ago, White's strategy wasn't well understood and Black did rather well in general, but now early activity in the centre seems to create difficulties for the second player.
In Game One Chernyshov varied from the main line with 5...Bb4+!? (maybe he didn't want to face home preparation) an idea played by Short and Speelman, as a surprise weapon. Sachdev played a sophisticated bishop manoeuvre and kept a pull, but the game was marred with a series of errors in a mad time scramble.
In Game Two Zaja continued with the logical 5...Nb4. A key moment comes after the further 6.Nbc3 Nxd3+ 7.Qxd3, when there are four serious options. I quite like 7...d6, but think that Black should probably have met 8.0-0 with 8...Ne7!. In the game, Bosiocic showed no mercy.
One conclusion I can make is that Black generally has only a narrow route to safety in the main line, and that early deviations are no better!
Budapest Gambit 4.Nf3 [A52]
In Game Three Miezes introduces a novelty which is ably refuted by Nguyen Chi Minh, who then unfortunately goes horribly astray. So Budapest-legend Normunds Miezes escaped with a draw, but didn't solve Black's problems in this key line of his pet opening.
It seems that Black can't fully equalize against 12.Qd5:
I know that the attractive plan with ...a5 and ...Ra6 is one of the reasons some people are confirmed Budapest players, but it may not be particularly good.
Kiril Georgiev instead considers the stodgy plan with ...d6 to be more precise, but that isn't exactly in the spirit of the Gambit is it?
The move orders employed by both colours may, at times, determine the choice between going for a Stonewall (early ...d5) or Classical (which generally means ...d6). This theme is developed in the notes to several of this month's games. Another point is that there is more than one way to build a Stonewall, more on this later!
2.Bg5 g6 [A80]
In Game Four White opted for 2.Bg5 against which Black's 2...g6 led to a sharp struggle of some theoretical importance. After 3.Nd2 Bg7 4.e4 dxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Ng3 it seems that 6...c5!, as played, gives Black decent play:
Firman's handling of the opening and early middlegame is a model for Black and his endeavours won him a pawn. However he was unable to win, and it may be that the single rook endgame wasn't his best chance of exploiting the advantage. I suggest improvements on move 21 (keeping the minor pieces) and on 26 (retaining all four rooks) when I believe that Black should be able to win.
4.Qc2 b6 [A85]
In Game 5 Krasenkov and Williams fought out an exciting draw. The opening being something of a sideline:
White's unusual plan of reacting with 5.e4 frankly doesn't impress, and I preferred Black's position early on.
However, even White's main alternatives, 5.Bg5 and 5.e3, don't offer him anything special if Black is able to organize (and get the timing right) with his typical counter ...c5. These positions remind me vaguely of Nimzoindians and Queen's Indians where Black has painlessly achieved the useful move ...f5.
So as 4 Qc2!? is rare, it can lead to original play, but isn't anything for Dutch players to worry about.
In Game Six Radoslaw Wojtaszek really wanted to play N-h3 against Anatoly Vaisser's Stonewall, but the World Veteran Champion waited for N-h3 and then played ...d6 with a quick ...e5. The knight on h3 isn't particularly happy after a quick ...e5 by Black, so all this seems logical:
This approach seems to give Black comfortable equality, a view that hasn't changed in a generation, although Black has to be careful with the details, for example I don't think that Vaisser played this idea in the most accurate manner (see moves 6 and 9).
The Polish GM obtained a pull, but erred and it was Black that was better. Later, the blunder of a pawn should have cost Vaisser the game, but he fought hard and complicated Wojtaszek's life. The final position (that I have) is actually winning for White, but is tricky and with time running out (and a draw winning the match), Vaisser got lucky.
Michael Ulibin has faced the Stonewall with Nh3 on many occasions as the notes to Game 7, (Postny-Ulibin) demonstrate. The Israeli GM came up with an interesting manner to trade dark-squared bishops (B-f4-d2-b4) and obtained pressure which eventually led to a white win. Postny's plan seems quite promising and, as I can't find any dramatic improvements, I would recommend Stonewall players investigate alternatives much earlier, for example on move 9.
Emmanuel Bricard opts for a Stonewall with ...Be7, in Game Eight, and Brunner promptly reacts in classical manner with b2-b3 and Bc1-a3. However, Black quickly equalized after a series of natural moves, suggesting that there is a future with this 'old-fashioned-looking' set-up. Later on, opening the kingside was double-edged, but Bricard was able to get the better of a complicated struggle.
As a rule, White is happy to trade dark-squared bishops, but it's the disposition of the remaining forces that matters. Bricard had no problems to develop harmoniously, despite the lack of his 'better' bishop, whereas it was less evident for Ulibin in the previous game.
A slightly off-beat interpretation is playing a Stonewall structure with ...Nc6 instead of ...c6. Korchnoi has employed this plan on several occasions, not particularly successfully, but it's still worth a closer look:
In Game 9 the former World Championship Challenger scraped a draw, which was a successful outcome for him as he was outplayed for much of the game.
Simon Williams has done it again! Another high-ranking player takes on Williams's Classical Dutch and is bamboozled by the young Englishman's swashbuckling play.
In Game 10 Williams' novelty involving sacrificing the queenside wasn't just based on a 'devil may care' attitude when facing a stronger player:
This theme of ...Qh5, in analogous positions, has already been discussed by him and he may even have analysed the line out at home.
In any case, this win makes an excellent advertisement for the Classical Dutch.
Till next month, Glenn Flear
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