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This month we look at the Vienna, Chigorin and Catalan variations. 2 of the Vienna games focus around the 5...b5 variation in the mainline and 2 others focused around sidelines for White such as 5.Qa4 or 5.e3. The three Chigorin games were played in a computer exhibition last year and bring many new ideas to some mainlines we haven’t explored in a long time. The Catalan game covers the encounter between Gukesh and Esipenko in a less explored part of the 4...Bb4+ line.

Download PGN of March ’23 1 d4 d5 2 c4 games

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Queen’s Gambit Accepted 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 b5 [D24]

In Prujissers - Heimann, after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 b5 6.e5 Nd5 7.Nxb5 Nb6 8.Be2 Nc6 9.0-0 Be7 10.Be3 0-0 we saw 11.Nc3:

It seems Black has a few paths to critically fight for equality here but he will have to dodge some pitfalls.

In Michalik - Pavlidis we saw White prefer 11.Qc1:

Similar to the other game, Black has a few avenues to challenge the White setup, but the precision these positions require was too subtle even for the strong Grandmaster playing Black in this game.

Queen’s Gambit Accepted 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e3 a6 6.a4 [D27]

In Zou - Xu, following 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e3 a6 6.a4 c5 7.Bxc4 Nc6 8.0-0 Be7 9.Qe2 cxd4 10.Rd1 we saw Black play 10...e5 which led to an easy simplification for him in which only a bit of precision was required.

Unless White comes up with something sooner, it seems this whole line has been put out of business by the e-pawn push.

QGA/Slav Triangle 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.Qa4+ c6 6.Qxc4 b5 [D43]

In Navara - Baidestkyi, after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.Qa4+ c6 6.Qxc4 b5 7.Qd3 Black tried 7...Ba6:

Though White could have put more pressure on the Black position it seems that if Black knows his stuff, this should equalize.

Chigorin Defence 2...Nc6 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.cxd5 Bxf3 5.gxf3 Qxd5 6.e3 [D07]

In LCZero 0.30-dag-bord-lf_78496 - rofChade 3.0 we saw Black go with 6...e6:

The position went gradually downhill as Black’s space disadvantage troubled him the whole game.

In SlowChess Blitz 2.9 avx2 - Berserk dev10_20220912 Black preferred the more forceful 6...e5:

but gradually struggled against, and succumbed to, White’s center nonetheless.

Chigorin Defence 2...Nc6 3.e3 e5 [D07]

In Stockfish dev16_202209170930 - Ethereal 13.89_NNUE Black went for the ambitious pawn break with 3...e5:

but the outcome of the game, similar to the other two, was another failure for the Black opening setup.

Closed Catalan 4...Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 0-0 7.0-0 c6 8.Qc2 Nbd7 [E11]

In Esipenko - Gukesh we analyze 9.b3 for the first time:

We look at a pawn sacrifice which has already appeared in quite a few games and gives White interesting play.

Till next month, Raven

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