ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Last month we looked at some rather irregular lines in the Winawer, and this month I’ll switch to recent games in the main lines. White has gotten the theoretical advantage in some of the old 7 Qg4 lines, so this should be of interest to players of both colors.

Download PGN of November ’16 French games

>> Previous Update >>

Winawer 7 Qg4 0-0 8 Bd3 f5 9 exf6 Rxf6 10 Bg5 Rf7 [C18]

We haven’t updated 7 Qg4 0-0 in a while. The game Bezgodov, A - Suleymenov, A features an ultra-rare pawn sacrifice by Black.

In a position that has been played in hundreds and hundreds of grandmaster games (and many others), 12...e5!? isn’t even mentioned in the major sources. Probably White should gain some advantage with perfect play, but in the game, Black succeeds in defeating a stronger player after many vicissitudes.

It’s White’s turn to play a rare move in a standard position in the game Khodashenas, M - Rastbod, A:

11 Nf3!? allows 11...e5, but is simply terribly unclear after 12 Bxh7+. Theory hasn’t treated this option very seriously; in a fascinating game, White ultimately outplays his opponent and wins.

Winawer 7 Qg4 0-0 8 Bd3 Nbc6 9 Qh5 Ng6 [C18]

The following position, formerly a main line, has become ‘old-fashioned’:

In the old days, White played 20 Nh4 and 20 Rh1 here, until some correspondence player discovered that 20 Rf1! was more accurate. The game Rodi, L - Dappiano, A tests that move. In general, it seems very strong, and it’s important to have an actual game in our archives. In the game, Black actually gains a big advantage, but only because White missed a strong continuation. The ball is in Black’s court here, which is not to say that he might discover something new. You might want to look into my admittedly unresearched suggestion 17...Qc8!?

Winawer 7 Qg4 0-0 8 Bd3 f5 9 exf6 Rxf6 10 Bg5 Rf7 Mainline, 15 0-0 [C18]

Another old line that hasn’t the best of reputations was tested in the high-level game Eljanov, P - Naiditsch, A:

Here 13...Nd7, as played by Carlsen, seems to be holding up, but Naiditsch went for the old main line 13...Nbc6 14 Nf3 Qc7. I was surprised to find that Black seems to be doing satisfactorily here, although Eljanov’s continuation in the game gives him no winning chances whatsoever if he follows the main line.

Winawer Poisoned Pawn 11...dxc3 12 Be3 [C18]

In Duda, J - Zhao Zong Yuan, White avoided the main Poisoned Pawn lines by 12 Be3 (preventing ...d4) 12...Bd7 13 Qd3:

This is by transposition an old line which was contested in the early days of the Poisoned Pawn. It shouldn’t gain any advantage by force, but accurate play leads to equal and interesting situations. The game went well for White after some inaccuracies by his opponent.

Winawer Poisoned Pawn 11...dxc3 12 h4 d4 13 h5, 15...Be8 [C18]

Both White and Black continue to be attracted to the main lines of the Poisoned Pawn. White’s advance of his h-pawn by 12 h4 d4 13 h5 followed by Qd3 appears in each month’s batch of new games:

In this position, 15...Kb8 intending ...Bc8 is still the most popular move, but 15...Be8 is catching up. Pichot, A - Villanueva, M is a game from two months ago which covers some of White’s common ideas.

16 Rb1 has led to some of the most critical play:

In Bakunts, R - Shahinyan, D, we see the wild 16...f6!?, which may be a bit too generous versus accurate play. 16...Nd5 is the move that needs to be further investigated.

Winawer Poisoned Pawn 11...dxc3 12 Nxc3 Nd4 13 Bb2 [C18]

After 11 f4, when Black plays 11...dxc3 (instead of the classical 11...Bd7), he has to contend with 12 Nxc3. After 12...Nd4 13 Bb2:

, Black tried the immediate 13...Ndf5!?, which is quite rare, in Dominguez Aguilar, G - Espinosa Veloz, E. So far it seems to hold the balance, but as the notes indicate, there is plenty to look at before reaching any conclusions.

Winawer Poisoned Pawn Mainline 13 Rb1 [C18]

Stepanov, A - Dilmukhametov, A illustrates the conventional line in which White foregoes h4-h5 for development:

In my book PTF4 I discuss 16 0-0 here. In this game White tried 16 Be4 followed by a4 and Ba3, with double-edged play.

Till next month, John

>> Previous Update >>

Please post you queries on the French Forum, or subscribers can write to me at if you have any questions or queries.