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I have picked out a varied selection of opening ideas for the Daring Defences column this time. The English Defence is being given a makeover in certain quarters with some surprising interpretations, whereas the TAQID and Budapest both come under pressure. The good news (for the second player!) is that Black achieves decent positions in both the Benko and Leningrad Dutch in this batch. However, whatever the outcome of the opening struggle, the rest of the game can sometimes go completely astray when time starts getting short. Unfortunately, even for some elite players, this happens frustratingly too often!

Download PGN of November ’20 Daring Defences games

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English Defence 3.e4 Bb4+ [A40]

Georg Meier has shown on several occasions that a quick ...d5 deserves some attention. In Baldauf, M - Meier, G he won quickly after White was distracted with an attack that never was. As to the opening, Meier innovated...

...with the natural-looking 8...Nf6. I think that the best approach in response was for White to get his king safely tucked away on the kingside with a small space edge, so my suggested improvement involves 12.0-0 with chances of an edge.

English/Owen's Anti-London [B00/A40]

It's hard to classify the opening in Jumabayev, R - Vallejo Pons, F but I think we'll see more of Black's move order that certainly threw Jumabayev in this encounter. The idea is a quick ...b6 against the London System, and then react accordingly depending on how White handles his central pawns. There are hints of the English Defence and an Owen's, as well as a London, all woven into Black's cunning strategy. In any case, the bishop proved to be poorly placed on f4 and soon had to retreat to d2, and that in itself should get you to look closer, as it's a nice feeling getting one over on London players!

The Accelerated Queen's Indian 3.f3 [A50]

In Duda, J - Vocaturo, D we are witness to a high-level test for 3.f3 which is perhaps the critical way of meeting the TAQID.

How does one assess such a position? White has more space, but if Black's kingside proves not to be breachable, then what? Anyway, with 10.0-0-0 Duda clearly felt that his own king wasn't going to be a problem and he duly set about preparing his kingside assault. Instead of waiting passively, Vocaturo played in creative style by advancing his a-pawn and sacrificing first one and then a second pawn for a fine knight outpost. Still, Duda held things together well and gradually exploited his advantage, which involved a timely exchange sacrifice. My impression is that Black's strategy was refuted in this game, which means that he needs to probably try the alternative ideas based around ...h6 (to hold the kingside for as long as possible) and ...c6 (to nibble at the centre), but I'm still prefering White in such middlegames.

Another approach involves 3...Bb7, 4...e6, and 5...d5, as preferred by Mamedyarov with a more open game. Ultimately, it may just be a question of style and taste as to which proves to be the best choice, but in both cases there is a suspicion that White retains the slightly easier game.

Budapest Gambit 3...Ng4 4.e3 [A52]

How about this position then?

This occurred in Gumularz, Sz - Zwardon, V a game from a rare over-the-board tournament. This f-pawn advance (to gain time and prepare an attack whilst pushing back the knight from a handy outpost) is actually a feature of a number of lines in the Budapest, but rarely so early in the game. On move six, following 5...Ng6, there are a number of ways that can White can develop his forces and hope to wisely use his newly-gained space and central influence. However 6.h4!? is the most brutal with sharp play. Zwardon took up the gauntlet with 6...Nxh4, but White obtained a strong bind in compensation and went on to win. So 5.f4 is definitely one to watch out for.

Budapest Gambit 3...Ng4 4.Nf3 mainline [A52]

In Dziuba, M - Zwardon, V one of the main continuations in the Budapest was tested.

Up to here I think that both sides' play has been logical, but at this point 16...d6?! saddled himself with a passive game, from which Black never recovered (in fact things went from bad to worse from there on in!). Instead, I have noted that 16...Qh4 was played in an e-mail game, cunningly keeping the ...f8-a3 diagonal open for a little longer. For tactical reasons, it stops the transfer of the knight to the dominant d5-square and gives Black decent practical chances, as you'll see in the notes. This seems to be an important idea in several analogous positions.

Benko Gambit Declined 4.Qc2 bxc4 5.e4 [A57]

Jeffery Xiong seemed to do everything right early on, but the final outcome was against him in Le Quang Liem - Xiong, J. I remain slightly surprised by his 9...Nfd7, but he has repeated it since this game, so the young American seems to be quite happy with it. Indeed, when sifting through the various options for both sides on move ten and eleven, my impression is that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it. It seems a litte strange leaving the other knight on b8 for so long, but if it works, then why worry! In the middlegame, Black was the one who seemed to have the better chances, but the tables were slowly turned.

Benko Accepted with Kxf1 [A59]

The old, but still relevant, Main Line of the Benko Accepted was given an outing in Tabatabaei, M - Sindarov, J. As you'll see in the notes, many of the game references are quite old because there haven't been so many developments after 12.h3, but the plans for both sides are akin to those in the more modern versions with 12.a4 or perhaps 12.Qe2. The key moment was after 17.Bg5...

Here Black should counter by 17...e6 with fair chances, as White hasn't got everything under control yet (noting that 12.h3 costs a tempo that could arguably have been better spent elsewhere). Instead 17...h6? just proved to be one of those cases where the trapper trapped himself!

Dutch Leningrad 7...c6 8.d5 e5 9.dxe6 Bxe6 10.b3 [A88]

I very much liked the Iranian's queenside plan in Dominguez Perez, L - Maghsoodloo, P.

With 16...a6 17.e3 b5! 18.Ne2 Bb7 19.Bb2 c5! Black gave himself the better chances on the queenside. I'm not familiar with this approach in this particular version of the ...c6-Leningrad, but it seemed to make White's set-up with the bishop on a3 and pawn on b4 look distinctly sub-optimal. Earlier on, maybe 13.Qd2 would have been more challenging.

Nakamura has played the ...c6-Leningrad for many years and was perhaps one of the driving forces behind it's present popularity. In Ding Liren - Nakamura, H the opening itself didn't throw up anything new except that Ding Liren's choice of playing for e2-e4 is indeed a critical test. Unfortunately, he erred with timing, as 17.e4 might have offered an edge, whereas his choice of 18.e4 didn't work at all well. Later on, the Chinese star's decision to sacrifice a pawn for play was probably not bad, but it was the American who found the best path through the complications.

Dutch 7...Nc6 8.b3 Leningrad [A89]

White's victory in Studer, N - Stremavicius, T was tantamount to daylight robbery, as you'll see if you play through the whole game. As to the opening, after 8.b3 e5 Black achieves his thematic central advance fairly painlessly:

Then 9.dxe5 dxe5 has been played a great deal with some fairly forcing lines. So Stremavicius's choice of 9...Nxe5 can be considered as an attempt at seeking less-well known territory. The further moves 10.Nxe5 dxe5 11.Ba3 Re8 12.Nb5 looks dangerous at first, but Black was able to diffuse the initiative after 12...c6 and achieve a balanced middlegame. Later, it was Black who was on top (the d5-outpost proving to be more secure that the one on d6) before a disaster struck. He must really have been kicking himself at the end, but who hasn't this happened to?

Till next month, Glenn Flear

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