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Modern Benko 6...Bg7 [A58]
In Game 1 Black met 9.Bd2 with standard Benko moves and was soon pressing. Bauer's use of the d3-square was notable. Compared to the more traditional Benko lines, White gets to castle (rather than having to make the king walk Kxf1, g3 and Kg2 etc.) but isn't any better placed to create any central counterplay. So I don't see any problems for Black after 9.Bd2.
In Game 2 the 9.Nd2 alternative was given another test, but again White wasn't really able to keep control after 11.Qe2 offering to trade queens:
It was Heberla, playing Black, who was in the driving seat throughout the game and deservedly won. Apart from Heberla's classical choice 11...d6, Black can even be more ambitious and attack the centre with 11...e6.
In the August 2015 update I investigated the more challenging 11.a4, a move first played by Pogonina and brought to my attention by Bogdan Lalic. This could well be where future theoretical battles will be fought.
I have already analysed a game from the following resulting position after 12...Na6:
Demuth tried 13.Nd2 (see the June 2015 update) against Giri, but then I like Kovalevskaya's 13...Nc7.
There have been some games with 13.Bf4, where Black can just about hold his own, as you'll see in the notes.
Vovk played 13.Bc4 in the featured Game 3, but Robson was still able to round-up White's d-pawn. There is nevertheless a hint (see move 20) of White keeping a slight pull, so a6-a7 does contain some bite after all.
Irregular Dutch 2.Bg5 h6 [A80]
In Game Four Black reacts to 2.Bg5 by chasing the bishop back to g3. The question then is whether the pawn front on f5 and g5 represents a useful asset or just a weaknesses to be attacked. The game and notes offer a few examples, but there doesn't seem to be a consensus as to how to meet White's typical reaction with h2-h4.
The experimental 5...c6 in the main game gave White the possibility of B-e5, after which Black's position wasn't easy to coordinate.
My feeling is that 5...d6 is better, as chosen by Beliavsky and Ponomariov. Beliavsky then met 6.h4 with 6...Rg8 to keep the front flexible. He found the time to castle long and obtained a pleasant game.
Ponomariov on the other hand (OK, I know, in a Blitz game) met Radjabov's (after 6.Nd2 Bg7) 7.h4 with 7...g4 and soon was able to follow-up with ...e5, and again stood well.
So, in this line, there is more than one way to find joy for Black.
Dutch 3.h3 g6 [A80]
In Game Five Ivanisevic plays 3.h3 and a quick g2-g4:
As it is so untheoretical, it has the advantage of forcing the opponent to work out new problems right from early in the game, before he has had time to settle. A few years back I found that this was the way (a quick g2-g4 gambit) to beat my analysis engine who insisted that Black was doing well, but couldn't cope with White's pressure after it grabbed the pawn.
Atalik prudently decides not to capture on g4, but then after 5.g5 was unable to solve all his problems. The knight had to make a difficult decision and I think that the experienced GM got it wrong. I suggest 5...Ne4 when this Stonewall/Leningrad would be double-edged, noting that the pawn on g5 has both plus and minus qualities.
Staunton Gambit 4 Bg5 g6 5 f3 [A83]
In Game 6 Black sought to play a Leningrad set-up against the Staunton Gambit. Ultimately White was successful, but a close look at the opening phase suggests that Black was fine. Indeed Nijboer did obtain the initiative, only to overestimate his attacking chances with an exchange sacrifice.
One of the problems for Black in the Staunton is to know how to obtain a coherent way of deploying all the black pieces. Studying this game and notes may be of use, that is, if you are happy to play with ...g6.
Stonewall Dutch ...Bd7 [A90]
Three games in the Stonewall this time, an opening that has gained in respectability in recent years. Magnus Carlsen has even employed it (see the notes to game 8)!
In Game Seven Shabalov's 9.a3!? is rarely played, with 9.Rb1 a more common way of preparing the b-pawn advance:
It's a moot point if it has anything more than surprise value, but the experienced American was able to later place his bishop on b4, which at least constitutes an original way to trade dark-squared bishops! In the game, Gorovets was fine at that point but then soon went astray, however in the complications that followed he also had some chances.
Stonewall Dutch with b3 and Bb2 [A90]
One of the main lines was tested in Game 8. My impression is that Black is doing perfectly well in the following position after 11...a5:
Sandipan eventually won with some trickery on the kingside, but the most notable aspect of this game was White's lack of play...anywhere!. In the notes to move 12, you may have noticed that a certain Caruana didn't do any better against the World Champion in a recent high-profile encounter. So White will have to look elsewhere if he wants an opening pull.
Stonewall Dutch with Nh3 [A90]
The opening moves in Game Nine deserve a close look: 1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 4.c4 c6 5.Nd2 may not seem to be anything special to you, but maybe they are! White delays the development of his king's knight until Black shows his hand. So if Black opts for 5...d6 then 6.Nf3 should offer White a good version of the Classical (especially as ...c6 has been played) and those lines with ...Qc7 and ...e5 (The Antoshin?) don't have a particularly good reputation. Naturally 5...d5 comes to mind, but in the game White then replied with 6.Nh3 offering him a flexible version of the Stonewall. The 'natural' continuation 6...Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 8.Qc2 left Black with an awkward choice, as you will notice in the game and notes.
Basically, despite many tries, Black hasn't found a convincing way forward at this point. The game was a tough fight where Black untangled, equalized, started to create problems for White, and then... blundered!
Classical Dutch 7...Ne4 [A96]
In Game Ten Tomashevsky faces the Classical with 7...Ne4, and handles it quite well obtaining a pull and keeping control. Rahman's attempt to break out just hastened his end. Although this game didn't go well for Black, there are important alternatives at move 13, after 13.Nf3:
In the game 13...Bf6 was played. However 13...Bd7, or the more ambitious 13...b5 (Williams) could be better choices.
Till next month, Glenn Flear
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