ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Since last month's update one reader wrote in to point out that one of the main lines of the Breyer had apparently not been covered either by myself or my predecessor, Paul Motwani. To make amends this month's update is devoted to that important variation. Apologies to gambiteers in advance.

Download PGN of January '05 1 e4 e5 games

Spanish - Breyer mainline

We reach the position in question after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Nb8 10.d4 Nbd7 11.Nbd2 Bb7 12.Bc2 Re8 13.Nf1 Bf8 14.Ng3 g6 15.a4 c5 16.d5 c4:

White's habitual move is 17.Bg5 after which 17...h6 18.Be3 Nc5 19.Qd2 h5 is the modern way of playing it. After the further 20.Bg5 Be7 21.Ra3 Black's recent preference has been for 21...Nfd7:

I must admit to being somewhat sceptical about the value of this idea as it sends the knight away from a kingside which has already been weakened with 19...h5. In Georgiev - Ponomariov Black hastened to force a clarification of queenside matters with 23...Nb6 though he was skating on very thin ice in this game.

23...Qe7 is an attempt to keep tighter control of the position but here too I have my concerns:

White can improve on Sulskis - Sargissian with the dangerous looking 25.axb5 axb5 26.Ra5 Qd7 27.Ng5, with dangerous threats against Black's kingside. Clearly this deserves further tests, but I have ongoing concerns about the solidity of Black's position.

It's not always the case that the fashionable moves are the best and I believe there is a strong case for the older 21...Rb8 (Kavalek - Spassky):

Black unpins his a6 pawn in preparation for ...Bb7-c8-d7 when the b5 pawn would be securely defended and Black's light square bishop would operate on the kingside. This plan is also seen in Dorfman - Van der Sterren, but here White chose 21.Bh6 rather than 21.Ra3. Black should have been OK but in a practical struggle anything can happen.

Another interesting plan for White is 20.Ng5 (rather than 20.Bg5) which Black answered effectively with 20...Bh6 in Nunn - Belyavsky and won in an exciting game. 20...Bg7 is also playable but appears to give White more latitude. In Short - Spassky Black can improve with 24...Nfd7, though White also has some interesting options.

The last two games are from the 1977 Spassky - Portisch match and feature the old 19...Kh7 rather than 19...h5:

What interests me about this move is that it was Gligoric's choice in a more recent game in 1999, and I tend to think he understands such things quite well. The 20.Ra3 of Match game 3 doesn't seem to be much of a problem for Black, but 20.Nh2 (Match game 9) could be more of an issue. It would be interesting to know what Gligoric would play here...

Please send any gambit requests for next month's update!

Happy hunting, Nigel Davies

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