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This month we have a lot of interesting theoretical debates and new ideas in various openings. This doesn't come as a surprise since there are usually lots of tournaments and chess activities during the summer.
We start our survey with two games in the Exchange Slav, just like last month. Both games are from the same event, the Spanish League.

Download PGN of August ’18 1 d4 d5 2 c4 games

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Exchange Slav 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bf4 a6 [D13]

Game 1 is Meier, G - Volkov, S. After 6...a6 7.Rc1 Nh5 is a specialty of Volkov and indeed has a solid reputation, but after 8.Bd2 Nf6 White found the interesting new move 9.a3!?:

A highly interesting idea, and afterwards White played really well, at one point sacrificing an exchange to continue with strong positional pressure.

Exchange Slav 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bf4 Bf5 [D14]

In game 2, Rakhmanov, A - Shirov, A, Black continued with the standard 6...Bf5 and there followed 7.e3 e6 8.Qb3:

I've already analyzed this line in a few updates, and this time Shirov tried to improve on one specific long line (given by Max last December) but failed to find all the precise moves to maintain equality. It's not easy to cope with this engine type of chess.

QGD Alapin or Janowski Variation 3.Nc3 a6 [D31]

Game 3, Yu Yangyi - Fedoseev, V, Hainan GM. This is currently a highly popular practical line, but the Chinese GM found a really strong idea. After 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.e3 Bd6 7.Bg5 Be6 8.Bd3 Nbd7 he played 9.f4!?:

A powerful idea, threatening to win a piece. Black was never even close to finding adequate counter play.

Queens Gambit Declined, Ragozin System 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bxf6 Qxf6 [D38]

Game 4 is Jakovenko, D - Cheparinov, I from the Turkish League. After 6.Bxf6 Qxf6 7.e3 0-0 8.Rc1 dxc4 9.Bxc4 c5 10.dxc5 Nd7 11.0-0 Nxc5 White tried 12.Nb5!?:

This is an interesting new approach, which was played only three times recently but all 3 games were won by White! Black was nowhere near equality in this game.

Semi Slav Botvinnik Variation Mainline 16.Na4 Qa6 [D44]

Game 5, Shiskin, V - Yagupov, I, Gniota Memorial Open, repeated the well known Main line 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 Nbd7 11.g3 Qb6 12.exf6 Bb7 13.Bg2 0-0-0 14.0-0 c5 15.d5 b4, and now White opted for 16.Na4:

and on the further 16...Qa6 White played the rare but far from weak idea 17.b3!?:

A line worth investigating.

Now we have three games in the Catalan. Of course, I've mentioned many times that the Catalan is currently a very popular opening.

Catalan Opening 5...Nc6 6.Qa4 Bb4+, 9.0-0 Rb8 [E04]

In game 6, Vidit,S - Bu Xiangzhi, Hainan GM, Black opted for the Modern 4...dxc4 5.Bg2 Nc6 6.Qa4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Nd5 8.Bxb4 Nxb4 9.0-0 Rb8 to which White replied with the most popular 10.Na3:

A solid line, and not really very much for White, but it's not entirely without danger for Black, either.

Catalan Opening Mainline 7.Qc2 a6 8.a4 [E05]

In game 7, Meier, G - Kovalev, V, Dortmund GM, Black played the Classical line 4...Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.a4 Bd7 9.Qxc4 Bc6 10.Bf4 Bd6, and White answered with the most common 11.Qc1:

Black carefully exchanged pieces and didn't face any problems in this game.

Closed Catalan/QID 4...Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 [E15]

Finally, we have Banikas, H - Nevednischy, V , from Paleochora, Greece. This line could have been reached from various move orders, but here it came about after 4...Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 0-0 7.0-0 c6 8.Qc2 Nbd7 9.Rd1 b6 10.b3 Ba6 11.Bf4 Rc8 12.Nc3 dxc4 13.e4:

White played a new idea in a very popular line and got an early initiative. Of course, it's too early to tell if this is significant, the line needs to be investigated more.

Till next month, Milos.

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