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What's New - October 2003

This month's update features a number of my own games as I've got some interesting stuff to show you in the Keres Variation of the Spanish. I also saw some other interesting Spanish games at the Isle of Man tournament.

GM Nigel Davies

Download PGN of October '03 1 e4 e5 games

Spanish Opening

My first game with the Keres was in fact a correspondence game, Butunoi - Davies, in which my opponent played the main line with 12.Nbd2.

At the time I was heavily influenced by the games of Mr Graf. But after I played 17...f5? I discovered 22 ...Nh4 23. Be4!! (see the notes) and decided that Black was probably lost. Should any readers get White against Graf in the near future, this new move could bring you an easy point!

And another good way to win against Mr Graf can be seen in Shulze - Davies. I copied Graf's 15...b4

unquestioningly and my opponent came up with a huge improvement in 19.e5!. This looks winning for White but I managed to wriggle out with a draw.

Hunt - Davies was the first game in which I played the Keres system over the board and Adam Hunt evidently expected something else from me in the opening. The first 11 moves were played confidently enough, but from move 12 onwards he started to consume lots of time as his position steadily deteriorated. It's not good to play 12. d5, and this game supplements the Fischer - Keres encounter.

Practical players often choose 12.dxc5 against the Keres; conventional wisdom claims that White gets an edge without having to know much theory, which in this day and age has tremendous appeal. But thanks to the games of Mr Graf it seems that Black is doing fine after 13...Bb7. In the Isle of Man I played a couple of games in this line; against Al Modiahki I played 14...Qc7 slightly prematurely, but even so it wasn't bad for Black. Moreno Carnero had seen the games against Hunt and Al Modiakh, so the Keres could no longer come as a surprise. Yet despite this, and the fact that he has played it himself, the strong Spanish IM was unable to demonstrate any advantage for White in Moreno Carnero - Davies. His home preparation went as far as 16.Bg5, but for some reason he didn't consider 16...f6.

Kasparov played 12.b3 in his game against Ponomariov, so it was only to be expected that we'd see more of this move. And although Luther had played 12. Nbd2 in one game, I had a suspicion that he'd go this way. Accordingly I took a pre-game look at 12...Qc7 and decided it was a solid line. In fact I couldn't understand why Ponomariov had given up the centre with 12...cxd4, see Luther - Davies.

There were some other interesting Spanish Openings in the Isle of Man.

Alexei Kuzmin looked very pleased with himself throughout Moreno Carnero - Kuzmin, whilst his opponent sat with his head in his hands, probably trying to remember what to do. There's a huge practical advantage in playing lines like the old Panov Attack; everyone has forgotten them!

In Del Rio Angelis - Agdestein, we see Agdestein playing a super-solid line as Black, and introducing a little wrinkle on move 16. Aggy isn't known for his theoretical knowledge so it's difficult to know whether this was by accident or design. White's play in Del Rio Angelis - Hebden certainly wasn't accidental. Mark Hebden once complained to me that he rarely got into a Marshall with 1... e5, and on the occasions that he did he found that his opponent knew it very well. This looks like a case in point, with Del Rio Angelis going straight down one of the main lines and coming up with the unpleasant 23.Qe2.

Last but not least we have Lane - Sulskis. I often recommend the Schleimann Defence to aggressive players who want something against 1.e4.

Usually they look at me as if I'm mad and go off to buy a book on the Dragon, spend a couple of years trying to learn it and then a lifetime keeping up-to-date. So when a player as strong as Sulskis (2578) adopts the Schliemann I feel vindicated. The books often suggest certain variations are good or bad and give a comforting symbol at the end of their variation. But when you actually analyse the positions, things become much more complicated.

That's all for this time.

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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