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Budapest 3...Ng4 4.e4 Nxe5 5.f4 Nec6 6.Nf3 [A52]
In Shabalov, A - Godart, F the line with 4.e4 Nxe5 5.f4 is examined, where White is relying largely on his big pawn centre and the inherent space plus to yield good play. A few moves later the following position was reached:
Here Shabalov played 9.Qd3 which I believe to be best. I'm not sure how Black should react, as in the game he drifted into a clearly inferior position and was rather fortunate to escape. Of course, he could have opted for 5...Ng6 (instead of 5...Nec6) but this still leaves him short of space, even if the other knight does then have a clear route into the game via c6. Maybe there is no clear route to equality, but be careful about the engine's assessments as they often over-value 'extra space'.
Benko/Blumenfeld 5.e3 e6 [A57]
In Kukhmazov, A - Tsydypov, Z Black's surprising play in the opening could catch out the unwary.
Here 7...axb5 intuitively feels inferior to the regular move 7...Bb7, and it probably is, but the game continuation 8.Bxb5 Bb7 9.Nxf6+ gxf6!? 10.Bf1 (going back!) at least justifies inviting the light-squared bishop to come out and play! It's one of these cases where the engine likes White, but a human wouldn't be comfortable about being behind in development. Indeed, despite the slightly dubious look to it, Tsydypov was probably doing OK (see 15...d4!?), but the whole line looks to be something of a gamble.
Benko Accepted with Kxf1, 12.a4 Ra6 13.Ra3 [A59]
Another White win in the high-scoring 'main line with 12.a4' occurred in Cuenca Jimenez, J - Leon Hoyos, M but I've noticed an idea that suggests that maybe all is not 'doom and gloom' in the black camp.
The game move of 16...d5 doesn't hold up to scrutiny as several previous encounters, as well as this one, have shown. However, 16...c4!? has been a tougher nut to crack, despite an engine edge for White. Essentially, Black is trying for something different from the hanging pawns on c5 and d5. In fact, in some cases, his knights occupy those squares and seem to offer 'fair' practical chances. As Black has been holding his own of late in e-mail chess, the idea needs to be taken seriously.
Dutch Leningrad 7...c6 8.d5 e5 9.e4 f4 [A88]
In Vidit, S - Adhiban, B I was intrigued by White's ninth move 9.e4:
Instead, of capturing en passant we have a sort of Fianchetto KID where White has more central space, although after the pawn sacrifice 9...f4!? the resulting complexity could (and did!) prove to be treacherous. Don't get too obsessed by the engine edge for White, there is so much dynamic energy around anything could happen in an OTB game. The featured game is a case in point where Adhiban's initiative was too hot to handle even for a 2700 defender. Another idea that is perhaps objectively sounder, but less ambitious is 9...cxd5 10.cxd5 Na6 with a King's Indian scenario of White having more space, but Black his usual potential to hit back.
Dutch Leningrad 7...c6 8.d5 e5 9.dxe6 Bxe6 10.b3 Ne4 [A88]
A sharp theoretical line was tested in Navara, D - Adhiban, B.
David Navara is usually up for a challenge and here it was the case, as he became the first OTB player to have tried 13.Bxe4 taking the pawn. Here, and at e-mail level, the compensation comes more in the form of long-term pressure than anything immediately concrete, for example, analysis demonstrates that it's a good idea to resist seeking to win the exchange at the cost of self-weakening.
In the actual game, Navara rather insisted on sacrificing the exchange, but Black hadn't made any major concessions so the assessment was perhaps 'unclear' at best. The outcome being a hard fought draw was fair enough.
Dutch Leningrad 7...c6 8.Qb3 Na6 9.Bf4 [A88]
In Srihari, L - Sadhwani, R the popular line with 8.Qb3 is given a test.
In the past, I've always been struck by how annoying the white queen's pressure can be, but here Sadhwani solved his problems fairly quickly with the diagram position already being about equal. So probably White should prefer 10.Rad1 to 10.c5+, as it's definitely useful to develop a piece whereas one isn't sure about the timing of c4-c5+ (and here it could be a little early). I haven't made a conclusion about Black's ninth move, but the 9...h6 of the game looks as good as anything going.
Dutch Leningrad 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.d5 Ne5 9.Nxe5 dxe5 10.Qb3 h6 [A89]
Yes, it's confounded computer chess again! Well, the encounter rofChade 3.0 - SlowChess Blitz 2.9 illustrates a line that has a bad reputation, but Black was able to hold. Not everyone has silicon technique, but it's perhaps a sign that one can play the 8...Ne5 line with a certain confidence.
The engine's novelty 11...a5 not only holds up any white play on the wing, it allows the sneaky ...Ra6! in one of the notes. Space and prophylactic thinking are still important, even when Black really wants to concentrate his attention on the other wing. The pawn sacrifice that followed turned out to give adequate compensation due to a decent dark-squared grip.
Dutch, Fluid Centre 7.b3 a5 8.Bb2 Ne4 [A96]
In Thybo, J - Sipila, V Black was able to cope with the double fianchetto in a traditional Dutch.
The delayed Stonewall with 9...d5 seems to hold up to scrutiny, which should give heart to those who want to believe in the unfashionable Iljin-Zhenevky (even if the switch 'in approach' with ...d6-d5 is sometimes required). I quite liked Sipila's follow-up plan in the game, based around finding a role for the remaining knight on the unlikely a5-square! Play through the game and see what you think!
Blumenfeld Gambit Accepted 6...d5 7.Nc3 Nbd7 8.e4 d4 9.Nb1 [E10]
In quite a sharp line I think that I've found an improvement in Black's play in Pashikian, A - Remizov, Y.
Here, it makes sense to deploy the bishop with 14...Bd6, rather than accelerate White's development with 14...Nxd2?!.
Naturally, words aren't enough and concrete variations are required to justify my statement, but following 14...Bd6 my analysis suggests that piling up down the e-file and picking off the e-pawn doesn't favour White. Then Black would obtain a good grip on the central region and the better pieces in general. In the game, Remizov tried his luck with a centralized king in the middlegame which was definitely pushing his luck (too far?).
Blumenfeld Gambit Declined 5.Bg5 exd5 6.cxd5 Qb6 [E10]
It might be the case that, after due consideration, the unpinning 6...Qb6 of Rustemov, A - Bartel, M might prove to be no more than a gimmick, as the similarities with 6...h6 7.Bxf6 Qxf6 are evident. The diagram position, that occurred a few moves later, is notable:
I'm not sure if the players were aware of the theory in general because after Bartel's 11...Nbd7 the strike 12.e5 is known (that is, in the analogous position with the black h-pawn on h6) to be unpleasant for the second player.
With Rustemov unwilling, on several occasions, to be daring with e4-e5 he allowed his opponent to get fully organized after which the grip on the long dark-squared diagonal gave Black the better game.
I haven't found a compelling case for leaving the h6-square free, but there might be one somewhere! If not, then why not just opt for 6...h6?
Till next month, Glenn Flear
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