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Hi everybody, I apologize for the delay with my update. I wanted to use the Wijk Ann Zee material and it took me longer than I intended.

This month I mainly decided to look at the Steinitz Variation Delayed. There are three main reasons for this: first of all I haven't looked at this line yet, the second reason is that Mamedyarov (the recent junior World Champion) played it four times in a row with Black at Wijk (against Topalov, Karjakin, Ivanchuk and Leko) which offered a real chance to see what all these champions had in store against it. The third reason is that this defence offers a fantastic choice of different pawn structures and accompanying strategies. King's Indian lovers may like it just as much as very solid and dry players.

I will add to this a Delayed Exchange Spanish played by Kamsky against Aronian.

I really want to look at all the lines and some subscribers must be patient. The King's Gambit is on my agenda as there was really a lot of interest for it on the forum. Things are not moving so much in the Scotch at the moment and so I will wait a little. If you have a suggestion, please don't hesitate, send me an email! This will feed my Forum section which is a bit dry at the moment.

I send all my thanks to all the subscribers who have encouraged me so warmly in my work, Olivier

Download PGN of January '06 1 e4 e5 games

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So we will follow the Mamedyarov adventure with Black in rounds 5,7,9 and 11 of the 2006 Wijk Aan Zee tournament.

He is an outstanding prospect who is still continuing his development. He likes very complicated positions and plays for the initiative at all costs, he plays all kind of sharp openings and can beat anybody in the world. He really has to be regarded as one of the main talents in the world - I saw him analysing once and he is really amazing, his fingers were going so fast that it was quite impossible to follow all the ideas he was showing!

For him this tournament was a test. Even if the result was rather bad, I am sure that he will continue his way to the top. He has the temperament for it!

1) Topalov the new world champion was the first on the list of this Steinitz saga! For this occasion Mamedyarov chose the old Janowsky line favoured by Spassky and later Short, Adams and Aronian.

After a novelty on move 11 (see the diagram above) the position reached its peak when Topalov found a very interesting exchange sacrifice. Mamedyarov defended very well and even sacrificed a rook to make a positional draw. You have to see this masterpiece! You will also find a fantastic attacking game of Spassky's with Black from 1961 in the notes, see Game 1.

2) Karjakin was white in the second game on the list. His style is completely the opposite as he likes simple and logical positions and he is very calm. This time Mamedyarov chose the old line with ...g6, Karjakin was a bit surprised and made a theoretical mistake but Black didn't find what Kéres (an other big specialist of this line) had discovered back in 1971 against Parma:

This is the position after 14...Bf8! from the Parma-Keres game.

After this mutual blindness, Karjakin showed excellent technique and won convincingly. A very didactic endgame.

This game is also the occasion to review all kinds of transpositions into King's Indian type positions. I am sure that many of you will be tempted to play like this now!

3) The third game was against Ivanchuk. He repeated the Karjakin game till 9 Bc2. But Black had a surprise in store, he captured on d4 and played 10...Bg4:

However, Ivanchuk found an amazing defence and the game finished in a draw by repetition.

4) Very bravely Mamedyarov continued his opening choice against Leko in Game 4. But this was maybe one time too many. Leko obtained a small advantage from the beginning that he kept to the end, and logically converted into a deserved win. Leko chose 5 0-0 and Black didn't want to embark himself into the crazy complications beginning with 5...Bg4 6 h3 h5. Instead he played 5...Bd7 and after 6 d4 he took on d4 but didn't find a good solution to his problems - see the diagram position after 12 a4:

Anyway this game gives us the occasion to review some old traps!

5) In the game Kamsky - Aronian, Black made a very interesting choice against the Exchange Spanish Delayed as he played 7...Bd6 instead of the classical 7...Nd7:

For those who don't know what to do against this side line, they may find an answer to their problems here.

About some interesting mail I received

I discussed 12 d5!? In the Keres line of the Closed Spanish in my June update, and I said that this move might be a very dangerous weapon against this line:

One of our subscribers told me that my predecessor, Nigel Davies, considered that this line was not dangerous against the Keres, and that he had suggested that 16..Kh8 with the idea ...Qg8 should solve Black's problems in his book:

It is true that this idea is interesting so I decided to check it out and I came up with this analysis, see Game 6. It seems to me that White has an edge even after 16...Kh8

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.