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I am very sorry for the delay getting this update to you. Many chess lovers requested coverage of the Ragozin System so here is the first part. The next one will follow soon.

Download PGN of June '05 1 d4 d5 games

Ragozin Variation [D38]

This opening system was named after the Russian Grandmaster Viacheslav Ragozin. He hasn't achieved great successes over the board but he is famous for his successful work as a second of World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik.

The opening starts 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 Bb4:

The Ragozin system reminds me both of the Nimzo-Indian and the Queen's Gambit and it is quite logical - Black plays both the ...Bf8-b4 and ...d7-d5 moves. Transpositions are quite possible - for example, for those who can play the Rubinstein Variation of the Nimzo-Indian this system does not bother much since they can simply continue 5. e3 and so on. The Ragozin system also resembles the Vienna Variation and this sharp system can be also be reached if White does not capture on d5. However, despite the similarities, the Ragozin System has its own typical ideas, manoeuvres, subtleties and concrete lines. It seems to be a positional opening like the Nimzo, but at the same time it is rather ambitious and White players cannot feel too comfortable - in some lines Black begins to create threats very quickly! Statistics tell us that the Ragozin System does not belong amongst the most popular openings but perhaps it is a bit underestimated and still waiting for its time...

Chabanon - Anic: The main Black problem in the Ragozin system is the rather annoying pin of his knight on f6 and he has few possible solutions:

One of them is rather simple - just pushing the White bishop from g5 by ...h7-h6 and ...g7-g5, following this by ...Nf6-e4. It may look attractive for ambitious players since Black begins his play first but he should not forget that the pawns cannot move back and so his king may not find shelter on the K-side. In this game White introduced a good intermediate check and conclusively converted his advantage in the better endgame.

Yermolinsky - Zilberstein: After Black gets rid of the pin by playing ...h7-h6, ...g7-g5 and ...Nf6-e4 White faces the same problem on the e1-a5 diagonal. The best way for him is to sacrifice a pawn but if Black becomes materialistic White's chances look preferable...

Moiseenko - Giorgadze: Instead of keeping the extra pawn Black has an interesting option - he can move his bishop deeper into White's camp, attacking the rook and forcing matters:

- then he hopes that White's reserves will arrive too late to support his other forces. The play becomes very complicated but it still seems that White's chances should be preferred. In this game he managed to move all his 3 major pieces to the h-file and gave checkmate - actually Black could defend better but the overall assessment should still be in White's favour.

Shabalov - Mitkov: Actually after moving his bishop to b2 Black can still win the pawn but his king gets stuck in the center. White's initiative is rather strong and his chances look preferable but one of the main experts in this opening, Nikola Mitkov, has defended the line in some games. In this encounter he was successful but it seems that White could have secured more advantage...

Stocek - Izoria: Here is another route which promises a small advantage for White - despite being a pawn down he is quite comfortable thanks to Black's poor pawn structure...

Chekhov - Inkiov: After playing ...h7-h6 Black often continues with ...g7-g5 - sometimes very soon, sometimes after some delay. Here he created pressure on the d4-pawn first but it also gave White the time for development. After Black captured the pawn his king was still stuck in the center and White eventually launched a decisive attack. Analysis proves that Black could have defended better but it is not such a big problem for White to find improvements either - at some points he had a good choice...

Borovikov - Aleksandrov: Here White opted for the more active development of his light-squared bishop:

and Black replied with the typical ...g7-g5 and ...Nf6-e4 but still failed to equalise. White demonstrated a good way to obtain the advantage but suddenly missed a heavy blow in a quiet endgame with an extra pawn.

Scherbakov - Aleksandrov: As we have seen, pushing the White bishop back by ...g7-g5 followed by ...Nf6-e4 creates weaknesses which promise White the better chances. Thus Black usually protects the knight on f6 with the other one on d7, after which he can move his queen, solving the problem of the pin. However, this approach is also not without drawbacks - the knight on d7 prevents the normal development of the bishop on c8. In this game one of the biggest Ragozin System experts Alexei Aleksandrov developed the bishop first but then he had to part with both his bishops. The position looked promising for White but it couldn't be easily opened and he eventually failed to find the most energetic way.

Georgiev - Kacheishvili: Here one of the main Ragozin experts, Giorgi Kacheishvili, supported the knight on f6 with the typical ...Nb8-d7 without developing the light-squared bishop:

Play soon became very unbalanced - White had a central pawn superiority while Black was hoping for his advanced Q-side pawns. Perhaps White's chances were a bit better but he soon went astray and survived in the endgame a pawn down only thanks to Black's mistake.

Kasparov - Aleksandrov: Here Garry Kasparov came up with a surprising deep retreat and conclusively outplayed the main Ragozin expert - however, White's advantage was actually not so big and Black would keep defending with more accurate play.



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