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Hi everybody,
The hottest news was, of course, the super GM tournament at Linarés. This year the tournament was played in two different places. The first part was played in Morelia in Mexico and the second one in Linares, Spain.

Again there was an interesting Petrov, a very nice win of Svidler over Topalov in the Berlin defence and a few anti-Marshalls. Nevertheless, I decided to keep all this material for future updates otherwise I would always be forced to speak about the same lines. Our main interest will be the Archangel line of the Ruy Lopez. I will also open a new file on a special line of the Two Knights. And, finally, I will speak about the Scotch for the first time. Olivier

Download PGN of February '06 1 e4 e5 games

Latest news at the highest level

The Archangel variation with 7 d3

This month we will continue our inspection of the "Lopez World" by studying a very complex line the Archangel Defence. It is known to be a very active line against the Lopez and is now favoured by many players. This variation was adopted by Malaniuk and Shirov, but its main advocate is Beliavsky. It has known theoretical ups and downs but it has always survived and was never refuted.

In the position after 6...Bb7 many moves have been tried, mostly 7 c3 and 7 Re1 but Black's position has survived the test of time. Nowadays the most frequent try is 7 d3. This leads to manoeuvering games where White hopes to show that Black committed himself too soon by placing his bishop on b7. This is a subtle struggle where White has two ways of playing. He can be very direct and put his knight on c3 and play a4. He may be more refined and play Nd2, Re1, Nf1 and then play in the center with c3-d4. We will give examples with the first plan (a4, Nc3) and next month I will complete our study with ideas on the second (Nd2, Re1, Nf1).

In Game 1, played in the last Corus tournament, Beliavsky played 7...Bc5 against the new rising star M.Carlsen. This confrontation turned into a nightmare for Black, who went for a very dubious idea and was crushed in 20 moves.

The position after 9 a4.

Game 2 - In the recent super final of the Russian championship Motylev played a very nice game against Tomashevsky where Black preferred 7...Be7. On the 10th move Black came up with the unusual idea 10...Nd4:

The game was spoiled at the end by mutual errors, probably because of a lack of time, and Black managed to draw.

In the recent game Khairullin - Khalifman, from the Aeroflot Open, Black also played his bishop to e7. Here White was slightly better without risk by playing 9 Bd2 and 10 Nd5, without a4:

Black had difficulties equalizing. In the comments to this game I mention a very interesting gambit which has practically put 10 a4 out of business.

The Scotch Game with ...Bc5

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 exd4 4 Nxd4 Bc5 5 Nxc6 Qf6 6 Qf3!?:

In this line 6 Qd2 is the main move of course, but after 6...dxc6 7 Nc3 Bd4!, it seems that White run out of ideas for gaining the advantage and even specialists like Nataf have stopped playing it with White. This is the reason why 6 Qf3 was played more often recently. I believe that this line doesn't promise any advantage either and only serves as a surprise. I will propose two plans to counter it.

In Game 4 Kiryl Georgiev with Black chose the simplest plan. He took on f3 and than recaptured on c6 with the b-pawn to obtain a well known position. But then, after 8 Be3, for some reason he played 8...Bb6 (instead of taking on e3). Savchenko refuted the idea with 9 c4! and quickly took the initiative:

He never let it go and won convincingly.

In Nataf - Postny Black played 6...dxc6 and after 7 Qxf6 Nxf6 8 f3 White hoped to realize his advantage in the endgame:

After a good start Black didn't play according to the demands of the position and began becoming passive. Nataf managed to gain a big advantage but, unfortunately for him, spoiled it at the end.

2) New ideas

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 d4 Bb4!?

This line can be interesting to know for those who want to avoid the classical position that we usually reach after 4...exd4 5 Nxd4 Bb4. If Black can equalize this way, it will be much easier to prepare, so why not? We will focus our attention on what is considered to be the best reply 5 Nxe5 (see the diagram):

Now we will study 4 answers:

  1. 5...Nxe4
  2. 5...Bxc3
  3. 5...Qe7
  4. 5...0-0!

A) 5...Nxe4

This move is very sharp and leads at the end to a better ending for White. There is nothing new here, but it is a good occasion to refresh our memory. If White is well prepared this line is not to be recommended for Black. This line will be illustrated by Nadyrhanov - Safin.

B) 5...Bxc3+

The idea played in Egorov - Iuldachev leads to very good position for White and therefore this should not be advised for Black unless he can find an improvement. White took a very strong initiative, and the key move was 10 Qe1!.

Next month we will have a look at Black's best options C) 5...Qe7 and D) 5...0-0! and there I have a couple of strong improvements for Black. Don't miss the March update.

Your analysis and discussions on the forum

I received a very interesting question from a subscriber about the game Estrin - Brglez published in my October update. There, after Black's 12...Bd7 we reach the following position:

In this position Estrin played 0-0-0 with White and I didn't pay any attention to the very sharp 12 f4 which seems to cast some doubt on Black's position. In fact, with very accurate play Black is O.K.

Two Knight's Analysis shows my analysis. Have a look, this is real fun!!

Thanks for your emails and see you next month.

Olivier Renet

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