But prior to that, a sensational Novelty which questions some of my previous work for this section, as well as an article I noticed in the very last NIC yearbook that (unfortunately for the author) went out only a few days before Game One was played!
A glance at the diagram, and you will immediately recognize which hot variation I am referring to:
White to play and win!
After 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bg5 Nbd7 4.Nf3, the move 4...g6 turns out to be the principle alternative, possibly for fear of the complications resulting from 4...h6 5.Bh4 e6 5.e4 g5 6.Bg3 Nxe4.
Then, following 5.Qd2! I found it interesting (in relation to last month's update) to try to answer the related question in Game Two: What happens when White has his bishop on g5 instead of f4, as in the VKH against the same Black Grünfeld set up?
5.e3 Bg7 6.Bd3 0-0 7.0-0 c5 8.Re1 is the 'normal' plan however, when in spite of doing it in two steps, White goes for the 'liberating' advance of his e-pawn. After 8...b6 9.e4 I felt guilty of not giving more than the terrible 9...cxd4? I mentioned in Reynolds-Timmerman, when the simple 9...dxe4 10.Nxe4 Bb7 11.Nxf6 gxf6, gaining a tempo on the bishop and permitting the e-pawn to escape the e1-rook's line of fire, as in Game 3, is generally sufficient to provide Black with space and pleasant free play in return for the slight risk of a worse ending, were it to go that far:
Indeed, the alternative 11.c3 cxd4 12.Nxd4 Nc5! also appeared fine for Black in Game Four:
And 9.Bb5 with the idea 9...Bb7 10.Ne5 just missed the target in Game 5 after 10...Rc8!?, calmly keeping c6 under control.
However, 4...h6 5.Bh4 e6 remains my recommendation, so far, against which White normally replies 6.e3, when 6...c5!? is a very interesting and logical idea, intending the refutation 7.Bd3? c4! 8.Be2 Bb4. Nevertheless, there are a couple of unclear points about this move, rather than the preliminary pin break 6...Be7, that need to be clarified. And the first is 7.Ne5!? cxd4!? (I imagine the idea after 7...Be7 is 8.f4, a type of position I will study later with the move 4.e3 except that here White saved the pre-emptive a2-a3 in order to prevent the stronger idea ...Bf8-b4, ...c7-c5, ...Qd8-a5). In Game 6 anyway, White immediately went wrong with 8.Nxd7?
Instead, 8.cxd4 Qb6 is obviously critical, although White missed the unusual way to cover his b-pawn with 9.Bb5! in Game 7.
This bishop development, although pinning Black's queen's knight, is rather a rarity in the 1...d5 d-Pawn Specials universe. It probably represents the good idea to attempt to refute the Chigorin after 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nc6?! 3.e3! Bg4 4.Bb5 or 4.Nbd2, therefore opting for... a Reversed Veresov! On the other hand, with a black pawn already on c5, especially with the queen's knight developed to d7, it appears more suspect because of the possibility for Black to favourably release the central tension with an opportune exchange on d4. Then he will obtain the better structure
That is why I cannot believe in 7.Bb5 either, as relevant to the position as it might appear, Black bluntly replying 7...a6! In Game 8, sustaining the central tension, and already solved all his problems after 8.0-0 Rc8 9.Ne5 Be7:
The dubious 7...cxd4?! was met by 8.Qxd4!? in Game 9 - the correct Chigorin-like approach in this atypical case.
Bonus correspondence Game 10 features the interesting Novelty 7.Bd3 Bd6, which would perfectly fit in the case of 7.Be2 as in the old Mestrovic-Palac game, but also brought a ChessPublishing subscriber success.
However, this time 7...c4!, the idea which is so important in the case of 4.e3 (as recommended by Davies in his 2003 book The Veresov), would transpose, without any earlier deviation.
This may be the point of playing 6...c5 before 6...Bb4, as an improvement on the already satisfying 6...Be7 I made an update on once. This is what I intend to investigate next month.
See you soon, Eric