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ND Update - July 2004

One opening to feature heavily in Rustam Kazimdzhanov's win of the FIDE World Championship Tournament was the Exchange Variation of the Spanish, and this will take center stage in this month's update. One interesting feature of his adoption of this opening was that it was in fact quite new to him. Was there a particular reason why he used it against Grischuk and Adams?

GM Nigel Davies

Download PGN of July '04 1 e4 e5 games

Exchange Spanish

In an interview after the tournament it seems that it was more a case of inspiration than perspiration:

Interviewer: "What tournament preparation did you make for this tournament?"

Kasimdzhanov: "Well nothing special in reality. I only prepared for the first round against Alejandro Ramirez. It was very hard work for me since I had to work very hard to catch up with opening theory during the tournament. I took each decision round by round and I decided to play lines I had rarely played before since all my opponents were very well prepared."

Michael Adams did indeed seem well prepared and chose two antidotes that he had not used before. In Game 8 he chose 5...Qd6 after which Kasimdzhanov's choice of the simple 6.d3 is interesting:

Perhaps it was a reaction to being surprised. In any event he obtains some pressure out of the opening.

In Game 4 Adams unveiled an earlier surprise in 5...Bg4 6.h3 h5!?:

, an aggressive line which is better than its reputation. Black's active 12th move appears to be new, and he seemed to be doing OK until he sacrificed the exchange on move 30.

It's interesting to consider the thinking of both players prior to this match, and try to figure out what they were aiming for:

For most of his career Adams has been faithful to the standard 5...f6:

with which he has played some theoretically important games against Timman (Timman - Adams) and Shirov (Shirov - Adams) as well as having scored a nice win against the Greek GM Kotronias (Kotronias - Adams).

The danger of playing this way in such important games is that these lines are very sharp and a single ingenious move could be very dangerous, and given the fast time limit it wouldn't even need to be that strong as long as it set Black thinking.

Of course it seems more likely that Kasimdzhanov would have chosen 8.Ne2 as he did in his win over Grischuk (Kasimdzhanov - Grischuk). For many moves he followed an old game Brunner - Adams before finally varying with 14.f3:

Adams most recent preference in the Exchange has been the highly unusual 5...Qf6, something which Kasimdzhanov is certain to have looked at and probably liked for White:

The Englishman's two games in this line (Fressinet - Adams and Magem Badals - Adams) both concluded in draws, but he certainly had to fight for them. But I don't think we've seen the last of 5...Qf6, especially when Ivan Sokolov and Alexander Morozevich also seem to think it has some merit.

Defence with No Name

I'd be grateful to any reader who can tell me the name of the opening in Adams - Radjabov in which Black met 2.Nf3 with 2...Qe7:

In fact this move is not without its points, it leaves Black free to play ...c7-c6 (as in a Philidor) and allows him to castle queenside in certain lines. Of course the big plus for players who don't like studying theory is that there isn't any, apart from a few games by Victor Kupreichik and some guy called Khousseinov. No doubt we will find out what to do against this should Khousseinov or Radjabov try it against a player of Adams' ability in a game with a longer time limit.

That's all for this month.

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Nigel Davies