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Budapest Gambit 4.Bf4 [A52]
The Budapest doesn't usually get played on top board in a major competition, but it happened in the European Individual Championship in Aix-les-Bains. However Vladimir Potkin dealt a heavy blow to Boris Savchenko's ambitions by demolishing Black's position.
In Game One Black's fundamental error was not castling. This is easy to write with the benefit of hindsight (and yes there are certain lines where keeping the king in the centre does give Black additional options) but no doubt, a now wiser, Savchenko would also agree. Either 9...0-0, 13...0-0 or even 14...0-0 would have been preferable.
Benko Gambit Accepted with Kxf1 [A59]
Mixed fortunes this month for two top players trying out the Benko Gambit.
Viktor Bologan in Game Two tries to play one of the main lines in an optimistic manner against a lower-rated player, but it all turns sour. Obtaining 'winning chances' is difficult for the second player where White plays the early e4-e5 advance. A nuisance for 'Benkoists', but I don't believe that 14.e5 gives White very much if Black plays realistically with only half-a-point in mind.
In Game Three, no less than Magnus Carlsen is happy to play the Benko, and in a high-level rapid encounter at that. Boris Gelfand's opening (including f2-f4) has been played a few times, but White hasn't done so well, as the centre can rarely expand further without becoming vulnerable.
In the game, a timely ...f7-f5 set Black on the way to victory, as White soon dropped the d-pawn.
This is the position after 16...f5!
Leningrad Dutch 7...c6 [A88]
In Game Four I examine a number of ideas in a Leningrad where Black plays with ...c6 and ...e5:
There are various ways for both sides to handle such positions, but from Black's point of view (where White plays d4-d5 and meets ...e7-e5 with d5xe6 en passant), there are few winning chances if White keeps his structure intact. In the game Black equalized, but should have been more wary about the fact that his king was more vulnerable than White's.
Grünfeld Defence - Exchange with 7 Bc4, 10... others [D87]
First of all, an e-mail from Franck Steenbekkers concerning a suggested line in a recent book, where unfortunately the author misses something important in a 'safe' line of the Grünfeld:
In this position (after 14.Bd5) It seems that 14...Ne5 leads to a satisfactory position for Black. However the alternative continuation, 14...Bd7 15.Qd3 e6, is probably insufficient because of 16.Bb3!, so I agree with Mr. Steenbekkers who came to the same conclusions, see Game 5.
The first game of their match was already a historic one: Aronian missed several wins and only drew! This ultimately led to Alexander Grischuk beating him in the rapid tie-breaks and advancing further. So it could well be that our Game 6 cost Levon Aronian the opportunity to advance further in the Candidates series.
In the game itself, Grischuk's interpretation of the opening seems to be acceptable as Black obtained enough practical compensation for the pawn. However, after going astray, the Russian had to defend for his life for the rest of the game, and it is still surprising that Aronian couldn't put the ball in the net, see Game Six.
5 Qa4+ [D90]
Game 7 is notable for two distinct reasons: The first is, as I pointed out last time (see the April 2011 update), Black has been suffering in this line and (not wanting to over-stress the point) here is another example. The second is that the endgame that Sokolov wins against Wang Yue is exquisite!
I anticipate that more players will be going for 5.Q-a4+ Bd7 6.Qb3 until Black players find something convincing.
I mentioned last time that Navara's 5...Nc6 is a radical, dynamic way to avoid the problems associated with 5...Bd7.
Russian 7 e4 Bg4 - Other lines [D98]
For Ian Nepomniachtchi, Game Eight was an unmitigated disaster. Even top players can get confused when surprised, especially at rapid chess. Tomashevsky came up with an idea that was only played once before, and that ten years before his opponent was born! Here is the position after 11.Qg5!?:
A closer look shows that Black has nothing to fear, but that's easy to conclude after analyzing and comparing with what has gone before with a computer to help us out. Perhaps the moral of the tale is that an old forgotten idea can be just as effective as the latest novelty if it throws your opponent onto his own resources.
Russian 7 e4 Nc6 [D97]
Game 9 is a great fight which was won (slightly fortunately) by Li Chao-b after both sides gave their best to try and win. The opening illustrates some interesting ideas in the Russian system where Black replies with 7...Nc6:
I don't consider this to one of Black's best counters, and the game and notes suggest that White keeps a small pull. Li Chao-b handled the black pieces relatively well, but I still prefer White if he had kept the queens on the board at move 15.
Russian 7 e4 a6 8 Be2 etc [D97]
In Game 10 we have another Aronian-Grischuk encounter, this one from the Hungarian variation of the Russian System. Again White got the better of things, but as the notes suggest, Black has to very precise in this key line.
I think that Grischuk's seventeenth move led to his difficulties, but his excellent defensive play later on saved the draw. Aronian didn't really miss a win this time, but he must have still been frustrated.
Till next month, Glenn Flear
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