ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
More of a focus on some interesting sidelines in this month’s update, with the World Rapid and Blitz in Samarkand still producing relevant ideas even with the faster time controls. We finish with an in-depth look at 5.Nc3 in the Ruy Lopez, inspired by the critical game Carlsen-Keymer from the World Rapid.

Download PGN of January ’24 1 e4 e5 games

>> Previous Update >>

Glek's System: 2...Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.exd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 [C47]

We start with a miniature win in the still ongoing Tata Steel Challengers. Following the most popular 4.exd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2, Black already chose her own path with the rare 5...Be6?!:

Unfortunately the reversed Scotch-style 5...Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bd6 should definitely be preferred and White won a one-sided game in Korobov, A - Divya, D.

Italian Opening: 3...d6 4.d4 Nf6 [C56]

Another quick win but for the Black side this time. Following the already rare sequence 3...d6 4.d4 Nf6, White tried to refute his opponent’s play outright with 5.Ng5!? d5 6.exd5 Nxd4:

Probably something calmer such as 5.d5 would be better-advised, since White quickly overextended and found his king caught in the centre in the Bundesliga game Beerdsen, T - Predojevic, B.

Spanish, Berlin Ending: 9.h3 Be7 10.Nc3 Nh4 [C67]

The other side of the coin to these sidelines was the theoretical duel Volokitin, A - Niemann, H from the London Chess Classic. Following 11.Nxh4 Bxh4 12.Be3 h5 13.Ne2 Ke8, Andrei played the novelty 14.f3!?:

The position is difficult to understand, but after 14...Be7?! 15.g4! Hans already found himself short of useful moves and eventually lost a tough game.

Spanish: 3...a6 4.Ba4 Nge7 5.c3 [C70]

A rare option was seen as early as move 5 in Najer, E - Sychev, K from the World Rapid Championships. Klementy opted for 5...f6!?:

This strange-looking move prepares ...d5 against almost any White response, and indeed following 6.d4 d5! 7.exd5 Qxd5 Black had a decent game, albeit 7.dxe5 might put others off trying this line too much at classical time controls.

Spanish, Steinitz Deferred: 5. 0-0 Bd7 6.c3 [C72]

Magnus defeated the early leader of the World Rapid Championship in a sharp game. In this well-known position, Black shunned the main move 6...g6 in favour of 6...g5!?:

This isn’t a bad move at all, although following 7.d4 g4 8.Ne1 h5 I examine the interesting 9.d5!? in the notes. Instead Carlsen’s choice of 9.Be3 was also decent and he won a fine game in Carlsen, M - Gareyev, T.

Spanish: 5.Nc3 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 [C77]

Finally, we move onto the main focus of this month’s update. The most active way for Black to respond is with 5...b5 6.Bb3 Bc5:

The young Bulgarian GM Momchil Petkov had this position twice in the space of three rounds at the recent Seville Open! Firstly in Petkov, M - Bilych, O we saw 7.0-0 d6 8.Nd5! where the sharp 8...Nxe4 is the only way to equalise whilst 8...0-0? 9.d4! exd4 10.Bg5 already left White close to winning, albeit Black later managed to escape with a draw.

Two days later, in Petkov, M - Butkiewicz, L, Momchil deviated with 7.Nd5!? This may look similar but in fact White has ideas of provoking ...h6 then launching an attack on the kingside without castling, as worked perfectly following 7...0-0 8.d3 h6 9.c3 d6?! 10.Nxf6+ Qxf6 11.Bd5 Bd7 12.Rg1! White went on to win a beautiful game.

Spanish: 5.Nc3 Be7 6.0-0 [C84]

Finally Carlsen, M - Keymer, V saw a safer approach for Black with 5...Be7 6.0-0 b5 7.Bb3 d6. Magnus went for a topical plan with 8.a3:

This can either transpose to some 6.d3 Spanish lines following 8...0-0 9.d3, or Black has the concrete option of 8...Bg4!? 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 Nd4 11.Qd1 Nxb3 12.cxb3. Objectively Black is doing fine but Magnus still managed to conjure up enough chances to reach a promising ending, before missing a chance and eventually drawing with his young opponent.

Best wishes, Harry

>> Previous Update >>

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