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January's column with the Tarrasch Defence Guimard Variation games attracted comments and questions from friends. Since I've been studying the Guimard for some work on ICC, I thought I'd look at recent games with it.
The rest is an assortment. In the Advance Variation, a fairly typical structure arises from a lesser move order, and a standard position with doubled h-pawns undergoes a test. I'll begin to fill some of the Rubinstein 3...dxe4 variations by using an Anand game. And finally, a look at one key sideline and some recent main line games in the Winawer. I've probably overdone the Poisoned Pawn in the past year, but it's both critical for Winawer theory and hotly-disputed.

Download PGN of March '13 French games

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Advance Variation 5...Bd7 6 Be2 [C02]

The move order 5...Bd7 6 Be2 Nge7 7 0-0 Nf5 isn't unusual, but it hasn't been one of Black's preferred selections for some time:

Ambartsumova - Ulibin, Cappelle la Grande 2013, sees 8 dxc5 Bxc5 9 Bd3 and White gets a very small edge. The notes contain some other ideas.

5...Nh6 [C02]

Negi - Stella, Cappelle la Grande 2013, tested 5...Nh6 6 Bxh6 gxh6 7 Be2 Qb6, transposing into 5...Qb6 6 Be2 Nh6 7 Bxh6.

We've seen this position several times before. White expands on the queenside and the advantage goes back and forth.

Tarrasch - Guimard Variation 3...Nc6, 6 Bb5 [C04]

The Guimard Variation is holding up well. In January we looked at 4 c3, 6 Bd3, and 6 Nb3. This month we'll start with 6 Bb5. Bacallao Alonso- Hernandez Carmenates, Santa Clara 2013, reached this early middlegame:

Black already stands slightly better because his bishop is unopposed on the long diagonal and he has an extra centre pawn.

Guimard 6 c3 [C04]

6 c3 was played in a few games. In Kovacevic - Stella, Cappelle la Grande 2013, Black played 6...f6, the most dynamic move, reaching this position:

With Black winning the e5 square, he can afford to keep his king in the centre, and here 9...e5! would have been more than equal.

Guimard 6 Nb3 [C04]

6 Nb3 has always been one of the most popular moves. In Daulyte - Stella, Cappelle la Grande 2013, White played a natural move which I accidentally omitted from my book, 9 Bd3:

Placing White's bishop on d3 has the negative that Black can attack it with tempo after ...c5-c4, but White plays c4 to thwart that.

Guimard 6 Be2 [C04]

After 6 Be2, the main line involving 6...f6 7 exf6 Qxf6 8 Nf1 with the idea Ne3 has been played for many years and is well-established. See the Archives for many examples. Wegener - Graf, Salzburg 2013, tests one of the main positions:

Over the years, both sides have won their share of games, but this has never been an existential threat to the Guimard.

Rubinstein 7 Be3 [C10]

The variation in Anand - Meier, Baden-Baden 2013, has been hovering between equality and a small White advantage.

Meier has played this system a lot and comes out with full equality. The way he handles the Rubinstein is not ambitious, but it might be particularly suitable for situations in which a draw is acceptable.

Winawer Poisoned Pawn 8 Bd3 [C18]

The Winawer Poisoned Pawn receives multiple tests each month. White can delay capture on g7 with 8 Bd3, as in Willemze - Kuipers, Netherlands Team Ch 2013


After over half a century of investigating this move, the complications have by no means been worked out. White, a regular on the Forum, finds a new move in a well-known position. A well-played game ensues, illustrating the positive features of White's position in these lines, and how they can be implemented.

12...d4 [C18]

Finally, an update on the main 8 Qxg7 lines, featuring the game Petr - Petrik, Czech Republic 2013.

Although this position is objectively drawn, White demonstrates that with only a single misstep from Black, he can get a meaningful advantage. In the notes, I've inserted a couple of other routine games from this month which indicate that the theory of this variation is stabilizing.

Till next month, John

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