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Greetings, dear readers!
I have been asked to cover both this month's update and the next (which will be on the BDG), and given my close affinity to the Chigorin Defence, what is more natural that I first take a closer look at... the Veresov! Admittedly, there have not been many new (high-level) games that have overturned Eric's excellent coverage between May 2006 and August 2008, but browsing the material provided in this section I noticed that there are a few gaps that I would like to fill as a service to the ChessPub subscribers!

Download PGN of September '09 d-Pawn Specials games

The Veresov [D01]

I would like to start with a line that has been heavily debated here, as it is very important for the Veresov. After 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 Nbd7, the move 4.f3 has already been subject to a close examination in this column:

As pointed out in the May '06 update, the line 4...c6! 5.e4 dxe4 6.fxe4 e5 7.dxe5 Qa5 8.Bxf6 is the "most principled one in books on the opening". While Eric already did a good job in presenting the most important ideas, I feel there are still a few gaps to fill:

Following 8...exf6 9.e6 fxe6 10.Qg4, Eric stated that 10...Nb6 is "simply the best", based on his notes to the game H.Heimsoth - W.Van den Brande, BEL-chT 2005/6. In Cottegnie,F - Remis Fernandez,J, White tried a different approach. After 11.0-0-0 Bd7 12.Qh4 0-0-0, instead of taking on f6, he played 13.Nf3 in order to finish his development:

The further course of the game was quite promising.

However, instead of 10...Nb6, in my opinion the move 10...Qg5! shuts the door in this line once and for all:

In comparison to the abovementioned Heimsoth - Van den Brande game (should White take on g5) not only does White not succeed in bringing his own knight to e5, he also will not be able to prevent Black from occupying e5 with his knight under favorable circumstances. The only question is whether Black can afford to part with his e-pawn. The course of Feicht, A - Hoffmann, U suggests that he can.

Another line that I would like to address in this context is 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 Nbd7 4.f3 c6 5.Qd2. In his August '06 update, Eric stated that 5...h6 6.Bh4 e5! is "the definitive refutation of this combination of moves f3, Qd2, Bh4". However, the only reply to 6...e5 he considered was 7.dxe5?, which is indeed bad. But what about 7.e3 ?:

The point of this seemingly modest move is simple. The d-pawn gets additional support, and what may be even more important, Black does not get his pieces out that easy. Relea, N - Jens, J continued 7...Bd6 8.0-0-0 b5 9.dxe5 Bxe5 10.f4 Bb8 11.e4 b4 12.Nxd5!?, and while the game should end in a draw with best play, Black needs to play very accurately in order to get there:

A line that has also been heavily debated in various updates was the critical 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 Nbd7 4.Nf3 e6 5.e4 h6 6.Bh4 g5 7.Bg3 Nxe4 8.Nxe4 dxe5 9.Ne5 Bg7 10.h4 Nxe5 11.Bxe5 Bxe5 12.dxe5:

The main move in this position is 12...Bd7, which is quite logical as it plans to transfer the bishop to c6 in order to protect the e4-pawn. However, for the sake of completeness I would also like to look at two queen moves that have been played in this position, even though they are not as promising.

Rozov, B - Garny, A features the move 12...Qxd1+. While trading queens makes sense while being a pawn up, in this particular case it does not lead to a black advantage. 12...Qd5 was played in Spal - Kaula; by attacking the e-pawn, Black forces White to trade queens on d5, which allows Black to repair his pawn structure. Unfortunately, in this concrete position White may exploit the vis-a-vis on the h-file, and again it is Black who has to worry not to be worse in the upcoming endgame.

As a conclusion, 12...Bd7 remains the best move. Now 13.Qd4 has been suggested by Eric in his December '06 update; I would like to throw another move in the ring, namely 13.Qe2:

With this move White does not attack the black g-pawn, which means that Black can play 13...Bc6 14.Rd1 Qe7 15.hxg5 Qxg5 (and therefore remain a pawn up), but I think that White can still hold the balance, as can be seen in Vincent, B - Packroff, H. However, as this is no significant improvement over 13.Qd4, I think that White should not play this line at all - if he is playing for a win, that is.

Finally, I would like to devote some time (and space) to the position(s) after 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 c6. While browsing the Introduction to the Veresov in this section, I noticed that while 3...c6 is dubbed "[a] very solid response, reinforcing d5 and allowing the Black queen access to the queenside", the very natural move 4.e3 is not mentioned at all!

White acknowledges that 4.f3 is not the way to enforce e2-e4 and chooses to approach the position in Chigorin-style. One might argue that the move seems tame, but it was also Kurt Richter's preferred choice, and the "Executioner from Berlin" was certainly not known for his calm play!

Davies, N - Mannion, S features 4...g6. Now it seems tempting to play 5.Bxf6 in order to devalue the black pawn structure, but it is not clear if White can exploit this at all. Instead, setting up a Stonewall formation with 5.Bd3 Bg7 6.f4 is more promising:

The Stonewall formation approach is also topical after 4...Nbd7. Even though there are very few examples, I would like to show a possible outcome in Woelk, S - Gergs, W.

Finally, the move 4...Bf5 is the most common answer, to which White should reply with 5.Bd3. One may compare the position to its 'Chigorinesque' counterpart (after 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bf4 Bg4 4.c3 e6); admittedly, the extra tempo is not much, but it still allows White to play for an advantage, as can be seen in Wisnewski, C - Saltaev, M.

Cheers, Christoph