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Early ...c5 5.dxc5 [E60]
The early ...c5 line with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 c5 5.dxc5 Qa5+ 6.Nc3 Qxc5 has been holding up pretty well for Black, as 7.Qa4 can be met with Gawain Jones’s 7...Ng4 8.Nh3 Bxc3+! In Hammer, J - Hillarp Persson, T White went for 7.Qb3, instead:
but Black equalized pretty quickly with 7...Nc6 8.Be3 Nd4 when White had to take, because 9.Qd1?! Ng4 does not help.
Karpov System 4.e4 d6 5.h3 0-0 6.Be3 e5 [E71/E90]
This line remains popular, but Black did well this month. In Budisavljevic, L - Kotronias, V Black played the traditional 6...e5 7.d5 Na6 8.g4 Nc5 9.f3 and now the game’s 9...c6 scores well:
I think White is still playing for an edge in all of these positions, but it’s not always easy to maintain control.
Karpov System 4.e4 d6 5.h3 0-0 6.Be3 c5 [E71/E90]
The alternative 6...c5 has been holding up better, especially after 7.Nf3 Qa5 which came to prominence after Karthikeyan’s inspired 8.Nd2 cxd4 9.Nb3 Qxc3+! Popovics, A - Ivanisevic, I instead saw 8.Bd3 Nfd7 9.0-0 Nc6 10.Be2:
And now 10...e5! is easy to play for Black and he quickly gained the upper hand (although he only won after various misadventures). Unfortunately for Black, I found a new idea for White, which may present a challenge.
Makagonov System 7...Nh5 [E90]
7...Nh5 is the sharp old main line. After the modern 8.g3 There are four big moves here. In Damljanovic, B - Mihok, O Black went for 8...Na6 9.Be2 f5 10.exf5 gxf5 and now White came up with 11.a3!?N:
This looks a bit like a 'nothing' move, but it's often useful to prepare Qc2, and it also acts as a waiting move. Following 11...Nc5 12.Bg5 Qe8 13.Nd2 Nf6 14.b4 White's idea seems justified now, but it's not so clear. In these lines such space-gaining moves can backfire, but in this game the veteran kept control in the complications.
Classical Variation 7...exd4 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 [E94]
7...exd4 has always been a ‘deviation’, but it could serve as a useful surprise weapon. Ftacnik faced it twice this month. After 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 Black has a choice. 9...c6 is the sharp way to play. White has more space, so Black has to use tactical devices to try to hold the balance. Ftacnik, L - Matveeva, S heads down one of the main theoretical branches with 10.Kh1 Nbd7 11.Bg5 Qb6 12.Nb3 a5 13.Qd2 a4 14.Be3 Qd8 15.Nd4 Nc5 16.Rab1 All this is well known. 16...Nfd7 17.b4 axb3 18.axb3 Be5:
Here Ftacnik played 19.g3!?N (19.b4 had always been played) and won, but there is another novelty which I think is even stronger.
Ftacnik, L - Hebden, M saw the more solid 9...Nc6 White has a little edge just about everywhere it seems, but it is not easy to make any progress in the middlegame that arises. 10.Be3 Nh5 11.Qd2 Nf4 12.Rad1 Ftacnik has shown a preference for playing this rook to d1. 12.Rfd1 is clearly the main line. 12...Nxd4 13.Bxd4 Bxd4+ 14.Qxd4 Nxe2+ 15.Nxe2 b6 16.Nc3 Bb7:
This is a very typical position. White will play Nd5 at some point, when Black will take the knight and try to hold. The positions are quite drawish as Black usually just has to defend the c7-pawn. White wins sometimes, but I have seen Black get chances too if White goes to far, especially with the ...f5 break. In the game Ftacnik came up with a great plan, but did not quite see it through and Black escaped with a draw.
Bayonet Attack 9.b4 Nh5 10.g3 [E97]
After 9.b4 Nh5 10.g3 I wondered if White had in mind the line 10.Re1 f5 11.Ng5 Nf6 12.Bf3 c6 13.dxc6 when he went for 10...f5 11.Ng5 Nf6 12.Bf3 c6
13.dxc6?! in Indjic, A - Shimanov, A. This is new but does not seem very good. It’s so complicated though that the pendulum swung back and forth a few times.
Bayonet Attack 9.b4 a5 10.bxa5 [E97]
9.b4 a5 is a more solid approach than 9...Nh5. I think that 10.Ba3 is the most challenging, but Gozzoli, Y - Nakamura, H saw 10.bxa5 c5 11.a4 Rxa5 Computers will generally favour White in these positions, but I always though Black should have reasonable practical chances in this structure. Play is less concrete than in other lines of the Bayonet, so White will have to outplay Black rather than counting on quick dividends from any opening advantage. Once Nakamura got the initiative, the end came quickly.
Until next month, David
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