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I was waiting a while to see if any interesting games were played at the Wijk event, and so far we have two of them. Other games are also from notable events, such as the London Classic. Generally, I do not like to include rapid and blitz games, but often we see that players use their main lines in shorter time controls so I have also included a couple of games from the World Championships.

Download PGN of January ’19 1 d4 d5 2 c4 games

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Blackburne QGD 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 b6 [D37]

The first three games are in the Modern Blackburne QGD with 5,Bf4, which is hardly a surprise any more.

Firstly, in Caruana, F - Nakamura, H London, we saw the critical line 6.e3 b6 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Nxd5 Qxd5 9.Bd3:

White actually survived the first wave of Black's initiative and gained the better chances only to push too much and lose a pawn. I pointed out some possible improvements for Black in the opening phase.

Shankland, S - Anand, V Wijk an Zee, features the same line as above till move 7, when White opted for 7.Bd3, instead, and there followed 7...dxc4 8.Bxc4 Ba6 9.Bxa6 Nxa6 10. Qa4 Qc8 11.0-0 c5:

A solid approach, Anand came well prepared and equalized in an experienced manner.

Blackburne QGD 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 c5, 10...Rd8 [D37]

Aronian, L - Caruana, F London features the Classical Main line that was seen in the recent World Championship Match, 6.e3 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Qc2 Nc6 9.Rd1 Qa5 10.a3 Rd8 and now Aronian opted for the critical 11.Nd2:

This game reveals more aspects of Caruana's preparation for the Match as Black reached an equal endgame with precise analysis. I am sure that we will see more of this line in the future.

QGD Ragozin Defence 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5, 8...Bf5 [D38]

The trendy Modern line featured in Urkedal, F - Arvola, B TCh Norway, and after 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 0-0 8.e3 Bf5 White played 9.Be2!?:

Not the most popular approach, but a solid one. Nevertheless, Black reacted in a very aggressive way and the position become very sharp anyway.

Vienna Variation 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 [D39]

Vidit, S - Duda, J Wijk an Zee, went 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7. a4 c5!?:

This is one of Pert's recommendations in his Playing the Ragozin book, A highly interesting game: Black was trying to revive an old and almost abandoned line and it seems that he did a good job. We will doubtless see more tests if this line in the future.

Catalan Opening 4...Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.Nc3 dxc4 7.Ne5 [E06]

The last three games in this update go to the Catalan Opening, as per usual.

In Inarkiev, E - Karjakin, S World Rapid, we have a hybrid of the Catalan and the QGD, so after 4...Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.Nc3 dxc4 7.Ne5 c5 8.dxc5 Qxd1+ 9.Nxd1 Bxc5:

Black gradually managed to nullify White;s initiative. This is an important line, and we will see that Black didn’t have any problems in recent games.

Catalan Opening, the Classical 4...dxc4 5.Bg2 c5 6.0-0 Nc6 [E04]

In Postny, E - Fridman, D, World Blitz, after 4...dxc4 5.Bg2 c5 6.0-0 Nc6 we saw the modernized old main line, which is very popular nowadays, 7.dxc5 Qxd1 8.Rxd1 Bxc5 9.Nbd2 c3 10.bxc3 0-0:

A very interesting game in which Black failed to equalize in the opening, but picked up a win later on after a series of mistakes. This game is worth analyzing further.

Catalan Opening Mainline 4...Be7, 7.Qc2 b6 [E05]

Finally, Lalic, B - Sulskis, S Hastings, saw the trendy 4...Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 b6!? once again. This move appears so often nowadays that almost every month I spend some time analyzing it here.

White played 8.Bg5 and there followed 8...Nd5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Qxc4 Ba6 11.Qc2 Nd7:

White failed to create any chances for an advantage and soon found himself in an inferior position.

Until next month, best wishes, Milos.

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