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ND Update - January 2004

This month I'm going to examine some recent developments in the King's Gambit Declined with 2...Bc5. By sticking to solid development Black hopes to sidestep the sharp and tricky lines and keep his preparation to a minimum.

GM Nigel Davies

Download PGN of January '04 1 e4 e5 games

King's Gambit

After 1.e4 e5 2.f4 Bc5 3.Nf3 d6:

White has a major policy decision to make; he can try to build a broad pawn centre with 4.c3 or just develop solidly with 4.Nc3. After this latter move Black should play 4...Nf6 5.Bc4 Nc6 6.d3 Bg4!, which is by far his most natural way to develop:

The classic game in this line is Chigorin - Pillsbury, a wild affair in which both kings came under fire. With the advantage of having a computer for analysis the old verdict of 'good for White' doesn't seem to hold; Black can improve with 11...Rf8 because of the 14...Qd4 resource. It's also not necessary to play 9...Nxc2+ as Black has some solid moves in 9...0-0 and 9...Qe7. The Queen move was used in Marshall - Edward Lasker, the latter winning a complex game after making a dodgy piece sac.

Alekhine - Tenner has some interest from a historical point of view as the two players gave different versions of which moves were played. As Alekhine developed something of a reputation for 'misremembering' his games we'll take Tenner's version. 7.Na4

is more testing than 7.h3 but then 7...exf4 is probably not the best reply. Tenner manages to draw but his position looked highly suspicious en route. Shabalov - Stamnov is a rather scrappy looking game, probably played at a fast time limit, but as Shabalov is a World Class Player his opening play will always be interesting. From a theoretical point of view Black's 9...Qe7 does not look like an improvement on Alekhine - Tenner.

Rather than play 7...exf4 Black is better off with 7...Bb6:

, which looks fine for Black as long as he avoids the 9...d5?! of Todorovic - Blagojevic. The 8.Bb5 of Minasian - Mamedyarov attempts to inflict pawn weakness, but Black seems to be doing well here because of his fast development. Black can do better still with the natural 7...0-0, a move which has been strangely neglected throughout the long history of this opening:

Federov - Marin was fine for Black, and Mikhalchishin showed that 9...Nh5 has its points in Game 8 against Forster. It looks as if White is trying to equalise.

The move 4.c3 used to give Black a lot of headaches, but then he found an interesting finesse in 4...Bb6!?:

which is designed against 5.d4. Hector's 5.Na3 looks fairly insipid on the evidence of Game 9 against Georgadze. In Murei - Marcelin White presses ahead with his central expansion anyway, not worrying about 6...Bg4. As the game goes White is rewarded with some rash play by Black, but he could do better on move 7.

All in all this looks like a solid antidote! See you next month.

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Nigel Davies