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A Wing Gambit, my first correspondence game and a French - what more could you ask for?

Download PGN of May '15 Anti-Sicilian games

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The Wing Gambit Accepted 3.Nf3 [B20]

Okay, I'm just going to come out and say it: I think the Wing Gambit is underestimated. Mind you, there's no way White should be able to claim an advantage with it, which is exactly what happens in the high-level Wing encounter Gareev - Kamsky. On the other hand, I'm not sure Black gets the advantage that most theoretical texts claim, either. In this game, the ever-entertaining Gareev almost claims a huge scalp for the Wing, but Gata manages to slime a draw in the end.

2.c3 Sicilian 2...Nf6 ...e6/...d6 system 9.Bd2 [B22]

Only one 2.c3 game this month. S.Zhigalko-Karthikeyan sees White adopt the fashionable 9.Bd2 in the ...e6/d6 system:

It's not my cup of tea, but it does seem like White retains the better chances after this move, and several players much stronger than me have made it their move of choice. Certainly it was a success in this game!

O'Kelly Variation 3.c3/Advanced French 4...a6 [B28]

...and now for something completely different:

The 'standard' way to reach this line is via 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 a6!?, although for our purposes a more usual route would be something like 1.e4 c5 2.c3 e6 3.d4 d5 4.e5 etc. Other move-orders are also plausible from the Sicilian, such as was seen in Anton Guijarro-Rapport. I've mainly chosen this game to share what I think is White's easiest remedy to this tricky sideline; pay close attention to the notes to White's 6th move.

Rossolimo Variation 3...e6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.d3 [B30]

Moving into more well-chartered waters, Tari - Vovk is a chance for me to criticize the play of my young Norwegian friend before he goes on to become world champion in the near future. After 3...e6 4.Bxc6, Vovk tries out 6...f6!?, once the choice of a young Carlsen:

White should probably play 7.Nh4 immediately, because after 7.0-0 d6 8.Nh4 Vovk correctly allowed his king to sit smugly in the centre with the powerful 8...g5!

Rossolimo Variation 3...g6 4.0-0, 6.b4!? [B31]

Having criticized Rapport's play above, it is time for me to pay homage to the talented Hungarian with Smerdon - Fischer. In my first correspondence encounter against a strong German correspondence GM, I repeated 6.b4!? as analysed in Rapport-Granda Zuniga:

However, I took his idea even further with the second pawn sacrifice 11.d4!?, a dangerous novelty. A third pawn sacrifice soon followed in what was an entertaining encounter (at least from my perspective!). Pay attention to the treasure trove of unpublished analysis in this game, which you won't find it in any normal database!

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.0-0 a6 5.Bd3 [B51]

A couple of 3.Bb5+'s to finish. Kobalia - Lu revisits 5.Bd3, this time with a focus on the common (but surely not critical) 6...e5:

You're likely to encounter this Ruy Lopez-styled setup from time to time, so it's worth taking note of how White should handle this; note in particular the improvement for White on move nine.

Moscow Variation 3...Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.0-0 [B52]

Kobalia features again in our next game (Kobalia - Antipov) in a particularly favourite line of mine:

It's only good enough for a draw with best play, but this old line deserves more attention as it's an excellent practical weapon and White's attack is very often underestimated. In this game, Kobalia misplays the attack (see the note 17.h4!), but manages to swindle the full point anyway.

Black tried to blunt the white attack with an early ...f6 in Smerdon - Berndt, which is a safe but somewhat passive choice. White gets a pleasant structural edge reminiscent of a good Tarrasch French, in which the black e6 pawn is a permanent weakness:

I managed to eventually succeed in converting the point in this game, which if anything has only exacerbated my bias for this variation - expect more of it in the future!

Till next time, Dave

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