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Budapest Gambit 4.Bf4 g5 [A52]
Those who play the Budapest for an exciting struggle may find the main lines with 4.Bf4 to be rather tame, so their natural instinct for gambit-play may induce them to try 4...g5!?, but I have doubts about its soundness.
Here, after 6...Nc6, White can play 7.h4! when the opening of the h-file seems to give White good chances.
White was rather fortunate to win in L'Ami-Tratar (see Game 1). Tratar handled L'Ami's 8.hxg5!? well and came close to equalizing, but maybe 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.hxg5 is even more challenging.
Benko Gambit 5.e3 [A57]
The lines with 5.e3 were once quite common, but not so much these days. White typically seeks to hold onto the b5-point and aims to complete development whilst maintaining his castling rights. He often follows-up with e3-e4 (when prudent to do so in order to consolidate his central ambitions), despite the loss of tempo. Perhaps this loss of tempo is why the line dropped out of favour. Black can hit back at the centre and obtain practical chances, even if analysis engines still prefer White.
In Game 2, as on many occasions, Black counters with ...e6, the key idea. It's all a question of timing: Rakhmanov plays this quite late, whereas there is a case for the quick 8...Bb7 and then ...e6, even without ...d6. That, however, is another story.
Declined 5.b6 [A57]
Games 3 and 4 feature the b5-b6 lines. In Game 3 Sanikidze keeps his knight on f3 and plays with h3 and Bf4:
Ivanisevic found an original way to react with ...Nh5 and ...f5. Objectively it looks a little optimistic, but Ivanisevic found some creative manoeuvres and was able to gradually take over.
A long time ago, Topalov also played ...f5 in this line, but he preferred to have his knight on c7 rather than h5 - see the PGN Archive.
In Game 4 White played his knight to d2 with the c4-square firmly in mind. Black's plan of placing his queen on b4 is notable in that this was dismissed by the influential Kiril Georgiev as inferior. The game and notes suggest that Black is certainly able to obtain practical chances. However, White players may like to investigate the more critical plan of playing R-a3 with R-b3 in mind in order to see what Black intends to do with his queen.
Benko Accepted with Kxf1 [A59]
The big issue of the moment in the whole Benko Gambit can be found in Game 5. What can Black do in the following position after 12.a4:
All sorts of moves and manoeuvres have been tried here (see also the March 2013) update, but Black hasn't yet found a fully satisfactory solution.
Ivan Sokolov shows exemplary technique in keeping a grip from the start in Game 5. So it's yet another case of Black not obtaining enough for his pawn.
The Benko has been written off before, and bounced back, but can anyone find a half-decent way to cope with 12.a4? Otherwise many will turn away from the Benko (again).
Dutch Defence 2.Nc3, 3.Bg5 [A80]
Ivan Sokolov pops up again in Game 6, and it is yet another smooth performance for us to appreciate. It's not just that he was the stronger player, but that the plan with N-e2 followed by c2-c4 seems quite challenging anyway for the second player:
Maybe Black needs to look for earlier deviations such as with 5...c5, chosen incidentally by Ivanchuk to beat Gelfand at Blitz.
2.Bg5 g6 [A80]
Game 7 is another White success with a Bg5 and Nc3 system. Dutch Dutch (sic!) aficionado Reinderman basically gets hammered. He could have improved on move 8, but maybe the real issue is whether or not his third(!) move is best. Black could try 3...Nh6 trying to wrangle a move order that avoids White's most dangerous attacking ideas, but how can 3...Bg7 be wrong? In any case a dangerous system that Leningraders need to be aware of.
Staunton Gambit [A83]
In Game 8 the once feared Staunton gambit was employed by Anna Ushenina. However her preparation wasn't up to the standard one expects of a World Champion and she was soon in trouble. The Chinese No.2 Wenjun Ju dominated the game from start to finish.
In the notes I've tried to show that White has no lines that cause any trouble in the Staunton. Furthermore, if Black knows what he (or she) is doing then he can often get the better of equality.
2.c4 and 3.Nc3 [A85]
Laznicka took on Mariya Muzychuk in one of her pet lines in Game 9:
This plan with long castling may seem unusual but Muzychuk has had to face this on at least three occasions against strong opposition. Although Laznicka innovated, Muzychuk reacted well and held her own until she blundered on move 18. Before that, Laznicka's 16th move was over-optimistic, and probably a dubious winning try.
Leningrad 6.Nh3 [A86]
In Game 10 Gata Kamsky outplays his lower-ranked opponent. First of all 6...e6 is a typical 'I want to play chess, not theory' approach that he likes to employ:
His opponent played a reasonable-looking plan, but Black was able to obtain a satisfactory game. Kamsky's sixth move isn't bad and means that if and when White advances with d4-d5, then Black has a choice of how to react.
Troff was tempted by the win of the exchange, but Black had enough resources. Later on, as Kamsky turned the screw, we are presented with a good example of a minor piece being more than a match for a rook on a crowded board.
Till next month, Glenn Flear
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