ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
I present you this month's update, but as publication of my book about the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit has been pushed back again, I will not be able to talk about the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit for another month; but rest assured that the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit will get plenty of focus as soon as my book is finally out.
In the meantime, I was delighted to see that the Veresov was the subject of several games at the strong International Championship of Hamburg; even more so as three of them are of actual theoretical relevance!

Download PGN of October '09 d-Pawn Specials games

The Veresov [D01]

I would like to start with 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 c5, a line that has been described as "the most combative approach by Black". The position after 4.Bxf6 gxf6 resembles a reversed Chigorin Defence where the question is how White should spend his extra tempo:

It would seem that 5.e4 is how White should continue. However, I am not entirely convinced that White can successfully fight for an advantage after 5...dxe4 6.dxc5 f5. Therefore, I prefer the solid 5.e3:

With this move White protects his d-pawn and makes way for his queen to h5. Coverage of the Veresov in this section now suggests 5...Nc6 6.Qh5 cxd4 7.exd4 e6 8.0-0-0 Bb4 9.Nge2 Bd7 10.g4 Qe7 11.Bg2 0-0-0 12.f4 with unclear play; Jeroen Bosch however, (known to most as the editor of the "Secrets of Opening Surprises" series) employed a different idea in his game against the seasoned veteran Ljubomir Ftacnik: After 8.Nf3 Bd7 9.Bd3 f5 10.0-0 he went on to win a spectacular game, see Bosch, J - Ftacnik, L.


While analysing the other games of the Hamburg tournament, I noticed a new trend in the line after 3...Bf5: Whenever I employed the Veresov, I usually chose the quiet 4.e3 due to its close relationship to the (reversed) Chigorin, but in general I thought that 4.f3 was the only "real" way to play for White. However, as in Hamburg the move 4.Bxf6 was dominant, I searched my database for a reason why 4.f3 was not played by either Bosch or Rogozenko; I think that the older game Woelk, S - Hawranke, D presents an interesting solution.

Back to 4.Bxf6:

Despite all possible dogmatic views, trading the bishop for the knight at this early stage is becoming more and more popular, as with precise play White might be able to exploit the weakening of the black pawn structure.

To begin with, I would like to examine the (seemingly) more logical recapture 4...exf6. After 5.e3 (5.f3?! Nc6! would transpose back to our previous game) there are two different black setups to consider. In Bosch, J - Hawranke, D Black chose 5...Bb4, but as ...Bb4xc3 is not a real threat anyway, it is highly questionable if the bishop should be put there at all. More tenacious is 5...c6 (with the idea to develop the dark-squared bishop on d6), but even then White should be able to stir things up, as can be seen in Rogozenco, D - Carlstedt, J.

The other recapture, 4...gxf6, is actually not as bad as it looks: The only reference in this section (so far) is 5.e3 e6 6.Bd3 Bxd3 7.cxd3 Nc6 8.Nge2 f5 "with unclear play" from S.Schweber - J.Szmetan, Buenos Aires 2001. However, the course of the game in question was less than satisfactory for White, which led me to search for a more sophisticated approach. Given that after 5...e6 the bishop can no longer retreat via the h3-c8 diagonal, I quite like 6.Nge2:

Black needs to invest time in order to save his bishop from the knight, while the knight stands in good stead on g3 as it supports e3-e4, one of the key ideas White has in this structure. There are only a few practical examples available, though; one is Kette, S - Arounopoulos, S, which I have investigated in more detail.

This leaves 5...c6, which allows Black to retreat his bishop along the h3-c8 diagonal. An interesting idea was played in Rombaldoni, D - Makka, I, which saw the unorthodox 6.g4!?:

Retreating the bishop to g6 is probably not Black's best option, but even after 6...Bd7 (which was played in the game) White went on to win in great style.


Getting away from 3...Bf5, I would like to turn my focus to 3...Nbd7, which is generally introducing the main lines of the Veresov. In my last update I looked at various lines, but neither of them was really threatening for Black. I would like to supply a little idea that has already been mentioned, even though I think that it does deserve a bit more attention, the move 5.a3!?:

This leads to a position that resembles a reversed Chigorin Defence with the very useful extra move a2-a3. It is as interesting as it is difficult to discuss the merits of this approach; comparing the stats, you will notice that in this position White scores rather miserably, while Black (in the original version without the extra move ...a6) scores excellently. The game Stewart,A - O'Bee,C is one example of how White may interpret the position, which is why I decided to examine it more closely.

2...Nc6!? [D00]

As this update comes to an end, I would like to give all Veresov players a thought about what they would do should Black play the unorthodox 2...Nc6!?:

It seems that White's best option is to play 3.e4 here, which would transpose into a Nimzowitsch Defence (which is originally reached after 1.e4 Nc6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3); I do not mind that at all, since the Nimzowitsch Defence is part of my repertoire anyway, but I would think that a player starting with 1.d4 might be uncomfortable with it. Unfortunately (for him!), moves other than 3.e4 are hardly promising, as I would like to show in Chepukaitis, G - deCastro, E, our final game for this update

Eric will be back next month, and hopefully my BDG update will then be here in December or just after! Christoph