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A relatively short column this month. I'm looking at some instructive games in a couple types of Winawers, and continuing with some examples that Bogdan Lalic sent ChessPublishing.

Download PGN of July '12 French games

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Exchange Variation [C01]

I have tended to show fairly dynamic responses to the Exchange Variation, but Black has also done fine with unambitious lines involving the modest ...c6. Battey - Lalic, Budapest (20 minutes) 2012 saw this structure in the Winawer Exchange (3 Nc3 Bb4 4 exd5 exd5 5 Bd3 c6):

After 6 a3, Black's bishop retreated to d6 and he had few problems. The only drawback to this way of playing is its potential dullness, as in the game, but the position is double-edged enough to remain interesting.

Gerbaux - Lalic, Bogdan vs Skype 2012, featured the same setup, but White responded more passively.

Black already stands better due to his better bishop and powerful knight on f5. This game shows how small imbalances can make the Exchange Variation less drawish than its reputation.

Winawer Variation - 4 Nge2 [C15]

4 Nge2 is certainly a sound move, but since Black has several good systems against it, the variation seems to be declining in popularity. We've seen the variation with 4...dxe4 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Nxc3 Nc6 7 d5 before. In one line White wins the two bishops and reaches this position:

His problem is how to neutralise Black's lead in development. Jovanovic - Dvirnyy, Sibenik 2012, is an interesting case where Black takes on an inferior pawn structure with the queens off, and White has trouble fending off his opponent's piece pressure even in a simplified position.

Poisoned Pawn Winawer with 12...d4 [C18]

Wang Hao-Vitiugov, St Petersburg 2012, is a battle of two 2700+ players contesting the main line of the Poisoned Pawn Winawer with 12...d4.

Here White is trying for h4-h5-h6, etc., but this gives Black time for 13...b6!. After some slightly inaccurate play by Black, he ends up with a small disadvantage from the opening. Nevertheless, when White makes a mistake later, it has the typical effect of putting him on the verge of defeat.

Winawer 7 h4 [C18]

The move 7 h4 in the Winawer is increasingly popular. John Hartmann directs my attention to Inarkiev - Shimanov, Konya 2012, played in the Turkish Is Bank Chess League, and annotated by Miroshnichenko on I have cited his notes while annotating this game.

Here White played 11 Qh3, a new move which is not necessarily advantageous, but is certainly dangerous. An exciting back-and-forth struggle results.

Till next month, John

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