ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
A month full of decisive games, taken mainly from the high-level Shenzhen Masters in China and the long-running Cappelle-la-Grande Open in France. In particular we see some sharp theoretical battles in the various ...Bc5 lines of the Ruy Lopez.

Download PGN of March ’24 1 e4 e5 games

>> Previous Update >>

Scotch: 4...Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Ba6 9.b3 [C45]

With more focus these days on the modern 8.h4 line of the Scotch it was refreshing to analyse a good game by White in the old main lines. Following 9...g6, White tried the rare 10.Ba3!?:

This has been seen before often leading to a quick forced draw (see 15.Qf3 in the notes) for example in the Candidates tournament 2020. Instead in Fedoryshyn, I - Eugene, F, Black went for an over-optimistic piece sacrifice in a complex position and was soundly beaten by his lower-rated opponent.

Giuoco Piano: 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.Bg5 [C54]

One of the lines of the Giuoco Piano which tends to not be so quiet after all is the trendy Bg5 system. Following a logical setup by Black with 6...h6 7.Bh4 a6 8.Nbd2 Ba7 9.a4 g5 10.Bg3 Qe7:

White has little better than castling short when Black typically reroutes the f6-knight to g6 before initiating a kingside attack with ...h5-h4. However in Erigaisi, A - Ma, Q the Chinese GM mixed up the move order and allowed a thematic piece sacrifice, which Arjun eventually converted to a win after some adventures.

Spanish, Berlin Ending: 9.h3 Be7 10.Rd1+ Ke8 11.g4 Nh4 [C67]

I feel bad now about including another loss of the same player with the black pieces. Two rounds earlier he essayed the Berlin Defence in Artemiev, V - Ma, Q and following 12.Nxh4 Bxh4 13.Nc3 h5 14.f3 reached this position:

Black is in strategic danger and needs to play actively as he did with 14...f5! However one slip later on allowed Black’s bishop to be trapped on h4 under bad circumstances and it was too much for Black to recover from.

Spanish, Yurtaev Variation: 7.a4 Bb7 8.c3 d6 9.d4 Bb6 10.Re1 0-0 11.Bg5 [C78]

Moving onto some Black wins now, a line that was new to me appeared on the board in Turcan, R - Kollars, D. Following 11...h6 12.Bh4, Dmitrij uncorked the rare 12...b4!?:

This avoids the crazy complications that can occur after 12...g5 13.Nxg5!? and seems like a strong option - indeed, Kollars was already much better after move 20. 13.Bd5?! was already a step in the wrong direction so the alternatives 13.d5 or 13.Qd3 as analysed in the notes should be preferred.

Spanish, Yurtaev Variation: 7.a4 Rb8 8.c3 d6 9.d4 Bb6 10.a5 Ba7 11.h3 Bb7 12.Be3 [C78]

It shows the state of modern opening theory that the diagrammed position is just a starting point for the game to begin! Following 12...Nxe4 13.d5!? Bxe3 14.dxc6 Nxf2 15.Qe2 Nxh3+ 16.Kh1 Nf2+ 17.Rxf2 Bxf2 18.Qxf2 Bxc6 19.Nxe5 Bxg2+! 20.Kg1! 0-0 21.Nxf7 Qe7 22.Kxg2 Rxf7 23.Qxf7+ Qxf7 24.Bxf7+ Kxf7:

There are only a couple of possible deviations along the way here in this otherwise forced line. This position led to a crucial win for White in Duda-Vidit, World Cup 2021 but instead in Nanjo, R - Barp, A it was Black who came out on top in this very double-edged ending.

Spanish, Yurtaev Variation: 6.c3 b5 7.Bc2 d5 8.a4 dxe4 9.axb5 Bg4 [C78]

An almost equally long theoretical line was seen in Amar, E - Stamatis, K during the Prague Open. Following the further 10.bxc6 exf3 11.gxf3 Bh3 12.Re1 0-0 13.Ra5 Qd6 14.b4 Bxf2+! 15.Kxf2 e4 16.Kg1 Rae8 17.Re3 Nh5 18.Rg5 Qh6 19.f4 Nxf4 20.Rgg3 f5, Elham came up with the novelty 21.d3!?:

I think it’s fair to assume that this wasn’t preparation since White had already spent 1 hour 20 minutes to reach this still known position! But actually it is a interesting alternative to the previously played 21.d4 and there are lots of fascinating lines to look at in both cases.

Spanish, Open Variation: 9.c3 0-0 10.Bc2!? [C83]

Back to Cappelle-la-Grande, a rare idea for White against the reliable Open Spanish now. White avoided the main line of 10.Nbd2 with 10.Bc2!?:

This has the idea of transposing back to a major branch after 10...0-0 11.Nbd2 whilst having cut out Black’s most trendy option, whilst the independent 10...Bg4 11.Qe1!? also led to rich play in Lamard, G - Sasikiran, K, eventually ending in a big win for the French IM.

Closed Spanish 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.a4 Rb8 [C84]

We finish for the month with the stunning Giri, A - Artemiev, V from Shenzhen, although I can’t guarantee that all games in the 6.d3 Spanish will be this exciting if you try it yourself! Following logical play with 9.axb5 axb5 10.Nc3 d6 11.h3 h6 12.Be3 Re8 13.Qd2:

White’s last move introduces a hidden threat of Nxb5 followed by Ba4, which is avoided by 13...Be6. However the queen on d2 also eyes the kingside and just four moves later Anish landed a crushing sacrifice on h6 and won in short order.

See you next month! 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.