When I started playing international tournaments the time limit was 40 moves in 2½ hours followed by an adjournment and then 16 moves in an hour until the game was eventually finished, perhaps after further adjournments. When this was 'accelerated' to 40 moves in 2 hours followed by an hour each to complete the game (to avoid adjournments which were outdated in the computer age), many complained that it was too fast!
Now many games are played at 90 minutes (plus 30 seconds per move played) for all the moves played.
I'm personally not against faster time limits, especially in tournaments where there are two games in a day, but I quite like there being some extra time after a first time control of 40 moves. At present it's extremely unpleasant to play the latter stages of a game in permanent time trouble, especially when you need to go to the toilet!
Modern chess with accelerated time limits is probably more dynamic and exciting than it used to be but it does lead to more serious mistakes. As we'll see below...
Jan Timman manages to introduce a novelty as early as move 8 in Game One:
This is the type of move that gives no advantage but takes the opponent away from normal positions. The result was a position that bore little resemblance to the Budapest!
Later he out-manoeuvred Jonathan Parker and should have won, a late blunder costing him half-a-point.
A youthful and high-level encounter in Game Two sees Radjabov countering the Benko with the g3-variation. Despite sensible defensive play by Carlsen I believe that Radjabov retained some advantage all along and should have won. Another example of Black struggling in this line!
Tukmakov rapidly obtains a good game for Black playing against the uninspiring 7 Qc2 (rather than the standard 7 Na3) in Game Three and is then almost spoilt for choice. The fact that Vasquez as White won this game was partially due to the randomness of time trouble, but also due to him skilfully generating difficulties for Black. When things went wrong in the opening he didn't panic but used the presence of opposite bishops to create a well-entrenched blockade on the light-squares, and then built up from there. A good model of not 'giving up' prematurely.
More activity amongst the big names in the fashionable 4 Bg5 line. Svidler wins two games but in both cases it wasn't really due to the opening. In the first round of Dortmund (Game 5) Svidler tried the unusual 7...Qd5 (instead of 7...Be6), but wasn't happy about repeating this line against the notoriously well-prepared Aronian in round 6. There, in Game Four, he reverted to 7...Be6 but Aronian nevertheless maintained a pull:
Here I find Aronian's reply 20 exd4 hard to explain, as then White is certainly not better, whereas he could have recaptured the other way (with the obvious 20 cxd4) and kept at least a safe edge. Perhaps Aronian underestimated 21...Ne4.
I think that Vachier-Lagrave's way of meeting 8 Qb1 (see last month's update) represents a sounder model than Svidler's.
Against Jobava in Game Five Svidler seemed to be doing alright, but Jobava found a way to create pressure and had the better of most of the middlegame.
The main conclusion we can make is that the D80 line with 4 Bg5 is very rich and double-edged and there's still plenty of opportunity for experimental play early on. I was quite optimistic about Black's chances in July's update and I was admittedly premature in predicting that strong White players would soon tire of gambiting the pawn! Whatever happens next it seems that you'll have to continue your subscription and keep reading my updates if you want to see how this line plays out over the coming months!
Tukmakov and Van der Weide play into a largely forgotten variation in Game Six. At first sight the game looks one-sided with White winning quickly, but in fact Black probably missed a win as you'll see in the notes!
Here after 17 Nd5 Black is to play. What should he do?
White could have improved on move 15 but simplest is 12 a3 (to thwart Black's knight in it's intention to come to b4) when I don't believe that Black has enough compensation for the pawn.
However all this is academic from a theoretical point of view as the ending after 8...Na6 is well-known to be 'equal'.
In Game 7 White's benign-looking 8 h3 led to a crushing win:
Such a quiet system can be quite awkward to play against, especially if play is steered towards unfamiliar types of variation. Against 8 h3, I suggest ...Nc6, ...cxd4 and ...Qa5+ as a reasonable antidote. The line played in the game with ...b6 is akin to the 8 Rb1 variation (except that White hasn't played R-b1!). In the game Black was unable to find a method to keep White quiet, but as it seems that the queen manoeuvre to a4 is dangerous, the queen should probably stay on d7 keeping an eye on all fronts.
Experienced Grünfeld specialist Ljubomir Ftacnik (playing White) gets badly outplayed by the youthful L'Ami in a line in which he has tried himself with Black. Game Eight, as well as the notes, perhaps illustrate most of all that Black has nothing much to fear in this variation.
Game Nine features a game from the Russian System with 7...Nc6. In the opening Black plays ...Bxf3 too early, but as you'll notice in the notes this mistake has already been employed by some high-ranking players! Although Black won after a complicated struggle, White was better for most of the game. Sammalvuo's novel 12 e5 is probably an alternative way of obtaining the advantage, but 12 Be3 is already considered by the books as superior for White so it probably doesn't add that much to the theory of this line. In any case 9...Na5! is recommended with the main line in prospect.
Baklan starts confidently enough as Black in Game Ten and takes the initiative. However, with limited time the quality of the game deteriorates and ultimately Black's 40th move costs him dear. Now how many times does that happen?
In the opening, critical is 8 a4!, and not the slow 8 Bd3 as played:
As against this Black obtains comfortable development.
Till next time,