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This month I dedicate the section to Duda’s impressive victory at the World Cup in Sochi, where he played no less than seven games that were relevant to our topic. Firstly, I examine three games in his Vienna speciality, then his three white games, featuring the Ragozin and the Tarrasch Defence, and finally his solid handling of the Catalan as Black.

Download PGN of August ’21 1 d4 d5 2 c4 games

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QGD: Vienna Variation, Anti-Vienna Gambit 6.Bxc4 Nxe4 7.0-0 Nf6 [D24/39]

As we have already seen from the archives, Duda’s pet line as Black against 1.d4 is 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bxc4 Nxe4 7.0-0 Nf6:

He reached this position no less than three times in the World Cup, and not exactly against weak opposition! Neither Carlsen, Grischuk nor Karjakin were able to crack Duda’s defence...

The World Champion tried 8.Qe2+ 0-0 9.Bg5 h6 10.Bh4 Be7 11.Rad1 but the engines give triple zeros after 11...Nbd7. Instead, Duda played 11...Nc6?! 12.Rfe1 Nd5 13.Bxd5 Bxh4:

And here, Carlsen would have been better if he had played 14.Bb3 Be7 15.d5 exd5 16.Nxd5, see Carlsen, M - Duda, J-K.

Grischuk chose the more direct line 8.Qa4+ Nc6 9.Bg5 Bxc3 10.bxc3 h6 11.Bh4 0-0 12.Rad1 but Duda was able to claim equality after 12...Ne7! Not fearing the doubled f-pawns. See Grischuk, A - Duda, J-K.

Lastly, Karjakin, S - Duda, J-K featured the even more direct approach 8.Qa4+ Nc6 9.Ne5 Rb8 10.Nxc6 bxc6 but he made it very clear that he wasn’t playing for a win in this game when he blitzed out the moves 11.Rd1 (11.a3 is more critical) 11...Bd7 12.Bg5 Be7 13.Qxa7 Ra8 14.Qb7 Rb8 15.Qa7 etc.

QGD: Ragozin Variation: 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 0-0 8.e3 Bf5 [D38]

Duda, J-K - Vazquez, G featured one of the most critical lines of the Ragozin: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 0-0 8.e3 Bf5. It is well-established that Black is fine here, but it is still more a question about understanding. Even in some seemingly dry endings, the positions are not so simple. 9.Qb3 Bxc3+ 10.Qxc3 Nbd7 11.Be2 c6 (11...Ne4!? is a move I would strongly consider) 12.Qa3 g5 13.Bg3 Ne4 14.Nd2:

It's funny how modern chess works - both players know that the position is equal, no matter which piece Black captures here, and yet this is not such a pleasant decision to make! Vazquez chose 14...Nxg3 15.hxg3 but then erred with 15...Qf6?! 16.g4 Bh7 17.Nf1! after which, he had to waste another move defending the h6-pawn with 17...Kg7 18.Ng3 Bg6.

Semi-Tarrasch: 5.cxd5 cxd4 6.Qxd4 exd5 7.Bg5 [D50]

I would argue that for this section, the most shocking trend of the past couple of years has been 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c5 5.cxd5 cxd4 which was hardly taken seriously in previous times. Duda was on the white side of this twice at the World Cup. In Duda, J-K - Karjakin, S he played 6.Qxd4 exd5 7.Bg5 Be7 8.e3 0-0 9.Rd1 Nc6 10.Qa4 Be6 11.Bb5:

Here Black would have been fine after 11...h6 12.Bh4 g5! 13.Bg3 Qb6. Instead Karjakin miss-evaluated the transformation of the pawn structure arising after 10...Qb6?! 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Nxd5 Bxd5 14.Rxd5 Bxb2 and went on to lose the final game and final match of the World Cup.

Prior to that game, Duda tried 9.Bd3 in Duda, J-K - Grischuk, A, but this was his least inspired idea in the tournament. After 9...h6 10.Bh4 Nc6 11.Qa4 Bd7 12.Qd1?! Bg4 13.h3 Bxf3 14.Qxf3 d4 Black was already on the better side of equality.

Catalan Main Line: Closed System with 6...c6 7.Qc2 b6 [E08]

Finally, Vidit, S- Duda, J-K featured a variation of the Catalan which is known to be quiet, but nevertheless deserves some attention: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.0-0 c6 7.Qc2 b6 8.Rd1 Bb7 9.Bf4 It’s interesting, firstly, that we reached this position via the 4...Be7 move order rather than 4...Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7. This tells us two things: that Duda wants to avoid 4...Bb4+ 5.Nd2; and that he is not threatened by 8.Nbd2. The game continued 9...Nbd7 10.Ne5 Nh5 11.Bd2 Nhf6 12.cxd5 cxd5 13.Nc6 Bxc6 14.Qxc6 Rc8 15.Qa4:

This is a rare move, which has previously been considered harmless due to 15...Rc4 16.Qxa7 Rxd4. However, the position is definitely more interesting than it is credited to be. White has decent prospects of an advantage in the long run as the asymmetrical pawn structure favours the two bishops. Duda replied with a more practical move 15...Qc7 and eventually neutralised Vidit’s two bishop advantage.

Until next time, Justin

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