ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks

ND Update - April 2004

One of the earliest specialists in the now popular Berlin Defence was the American genius, Harry Nelson Pillsbury. But this wasn't the only line that Pillsbury played, he also like the move 3...g6. Since then a number of strong Grandmasters have followed in his footsteps, such as Vassily Smyslov, Boris Spassky, Alexei Dreev, Zurab Azmaiparashvili and Ivan Sokolov.

GM Nigel Davies

Download PGN of April '04 1 e4 e5 games

Spanish 3...g6

4.d4 is the critical move:

, but not if followed up with 5.Nxd4. The games Teichmann - Pillsbury and Mackenzie - Steinitz featured the excellent and noteworthy manoeuvre 8... Ne7, forcing through ...d7-d5. I've given two games with this line because it's one that's likely to crop up at club level.

Next up, the critical 5.Bg5:

Shirov - Azmaiparashvili features two GM heavyweights and is an important theoretical game. When Azmai regroups his bishop to c6 things look about equal, but then Shirov misses a neat tactic. The move 9.0-0, as in Nisipeanu - Azmaiparashvili, is an interesting finesse, stopping 9...Bg4 because of 10.e5. But Azmai has a finesse of his own in 12...Re8, getting White to play 13.f4 when his e-pawn is weak.

Another try for White is 7.0-0, as in Rozentalis - Sokolov. Once again we get an endgame in which White wants to prove that Black's doubled pawn will kill him. But Sokolov demonstrates that Black has counterplay here, and maybe 12...Nh6!? is even better.

After 4.c3 the line 4...Nge7 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 d5 7.exd5 Nxd5 8.0-0 Bg7 9.Bg5 Qd6 has been played a lot by Ivan Sokolov, some times via a 3...Nge7 move order.

Timman's 12.Qe2+ did not prove its worth in Timman - Spassky. The queen really belongs on d2 or c1 where it can help with the manoeuvre Bg5-h6. Spassky gets good play and Timman doesn't sense the danger until it's too late.

In Sion Castro - Sokolov, Black attempts to improve the 12.Re1+ main line with 14...Bf5!?, which certainly looks interesting. Is 18...Ne2+ critical, or can Black play Fritz's simple rook move?

In Gelfand - Dreev, White was too ambitious, playing for the attack when he should have been trying to keep control. Black was better but couldn't convert in time trouble.

Black's other way to treat 4.c3 is by playing 4...a6:

White's two main retreats are to either c4 (as in Rozentalis - Balashov) or a4, as in Sokolov - Spassky. In both these games we see Black break free with ...f7-f5, a move to warm the hearts of attacking players.

All in all it seems that 3...g6 is still very playable, and not being used that much at present.

See you next month.

Do you want to improve your chess? Then either email me (as just below), or visit for more information about my coaching services

Please post your Kingpawn Opening queries on the 1 e4 e5 Forum, or subscribers can write to me at if you have any questions or queries.

Nigel Davies