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Modern Classical 6 Bc4 [B70]
Philippe - Edouard is a really nice game from Black's point of view. In 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Bc4 White had adopted the once trendy 'Modern Classical' variation and 6...Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.Bb3 is a variation I remember once analysing thoroughly. After 9...Bd7 10.Bg5 in my opinion the talented Frenchman correctly challenged his opponent with 10...h6 11.Bh4 Nxd4 12.Qxd4 g5 13.Bg3 Nh5:
Above then, Black has mixed things up by accepting some kingside weaknesses in the quest of hunting down White's dark-squared bishop. I suspect White should probably keep his queen on the d-file as after 14.Qe3 Nxg3 15.hxg3 e6 this multi-purpose response blunts White's light-squared bishop, prevents White's knight from jumping to d5 and enables the queen, if required, to switch to the kingside.
Following 16.Rad1 Bc6 17.Rd3 Qe7 18.Red1 Rfd8 19.g4 b5! 20.a3 Rab8 21.g3 a5 White was planless whilst Black's queenside pressure was on the verge of exploding.
Accelerated Dragadorf [B75]
Through 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 a6 7.f3 b5 clearly Gawain adopted the 'variety is the spice of life' motto as he took a break from the Dragon main lines to revisit the Accelerated variant of the Dragon/Najdorf hybrid in Andersen - Jones.
8.Qd2 Bb7 9.a4 e5 10.Nb3 b4 11.Na2 d5 is a line that we have investigated quite a bit on ChessPublishing in the past but this encounter provoked me to look at it with fresh eyes:
I'm thinking that 12.Bg5! is best and after 12...Nbd7 13.exd5 Black could keep things on the boil with 13...Qb6 but Gawain's selected 13...Bxd5 14.Nxb4 Bxb3 15.cxb3 Qb6 16.Nc2 Qxb3 17.Qc3 Qxc3+ 18.bxc3 was surely fine. However, one or two inaccuracies meant that he ultimately had to work hard for the draw.
Yugoslav Attack 9 g4 Be6 10 Nxe6 [B76]
The last time we saw the sequence 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0-0 Rc8 12.Bc4 Qd7 13.Bb3 Na5 14.h4 was in in the game Short-McShane, but in Gara,T-Gaponenko instead the Ukranian WGM/IM opted for 14...Nxb3+ 15.axb3 and then sought queen activation via 15...Qc6. Play continued 16.Bh6 Bxh6 17.Qxh6 b5:
A moral victory was earned when White felt the need to retreat her queen to guard c2 but 18.Qd2 b4 19.Na4?! Nd7! clearly left Black with the upper hand and contrasting knight activity helps indicate why.
Perhaps most interesting though is the analysis on the possibility of 18 h5! b4 19 hxg6 bxc3 20 Kb1 cxb2 21 c4! This game could easily have gone the other way!
Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 10 Qe1 [B76]
After 9.0-0-0 d5 certainly 10.Qe1 remains a reasonable alternative to the main line, indeed avoiding all those well analysed 10 exd5 Nxd5 11 Nxc6 bxc6 12 Bd4 Bxd4 variations. Of course, Black could respond with 10...e6 but 10...e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 looks set to return to a familiar path to the old main line through 14 Ne4.
However, suddenly trendy it would appear is 14.Kb1:
This move featured 3 times this month, 2 of which I cover in main games (and the other mentioned in sidelines). In the notes to Narayanan - Cebalo I discuss the possibilities of 14...a5 and 14...Nxc3 but the main games continues as Edouard-Jones did before it with 14...Rb8 15.Ne4 f5 16.Ng5 Bc8. A fascinating position where White now deviated from the talented Frenchman's 17 h4 with 17.Bb3 Casting a casual eye over 17...f4 18.Ne4 might lead one to imagine that this is an incredible bit of home prep but after investigating, I think not!
Anyway I won't ruin it for you but be sure also to check out the next game for 14...Re8.
It's great to see Romain Edouard persevering with the Dragon and I have to say that in general he always appears well prepared. In his recent game with highly rated Czech GM David Navara for example, he never seemed in danger. I have to say though that this was a slightly surprising encounter in the same seemingly trendy 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 variation that we have just been discussing. That other annotation this month featured 14...Rb8 although my notes also commented on 14...a5 and 14...Nxc3.
Navara - Edouard, however, saw 14...Re8 when standard is for White to park his knight on e4. White was rather casual though in 15.h4 and after 15...Qc7 probably realised that there was an issue:
Yes, suddenly the black knight is unpinned and there is a direct threat to White's dark-squared bishop as well as tactical possibilities involving ...e4, a fact that was clearly seen in the game continuation of 16.Nxd5 cxd5 17.Bxd5 Bxd5 18.Rxd5 e4 19.fxe4 Rxe4 20.Qd2 Bxb2!.
Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4; ...Rc8 without ...h5 [B78]
The game Paehtz - Gaponenko truly was a blast from the past. Yes, seeing 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h5 Nxh5 13.0-0-0 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.g4 Nf6 16.Nde2 hit the board immediately brought back memories of that famous 1974 World Championship clash between Karpov and Korchnoi. That also reached the position after 16...Qa5 17.Bh6 Rfc8 18.Bxg7 Kxg7 19.Qh6+ Kg8 when the German WGM/IM deviated from the play of the great Anatoly.
Yes, here he played 20 Rd3 to over-protect c3 in preparation for relocating his e2-knight but instead Elizabeth opted for 20.Rd5, and after 20...Qc7 21.Rd3 Qa5 had effectively gotten in Karpov's Rd3 for free.
You will discover that I have quite a lot to say about this position and how Black can deviate earlier, but I found it especially frightening comparing the conclusions of old text books with the analysis of today's engines. So many assessments that need to be completely turned around!
I am very surprised that the now experienced Dragon player Inna Gaponenko reproduced this variation, and as for Elisabeth, well frankly it would appear that she played even better than Karpov!
That's all from me folks, but I will be back very soon. Best wishes, Chris
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To get in touch with me subscribers can email me at Chris Ward@ChessPublishing.com.