So in the following position, after 10 Rb1, from Game 1:
Andrew Martin has apparently been recommending 10...0-0 11 0-0 Ne8, which seemed to be doing alright until after 12 Qc2 Nc7, Grischuk came up with the novel 13 a4 against Tregubov and went on to win. So perhaps this line isn't so great for Black after all!
The other idea 10...Qa5 was covered as recently as August 2005 and I've nothing new to add, but if you look up my notes from then I suggested an idea or two which might require further investigation. Of the two ideas 10...Qa5, and 10...0-0 11 0-0 Ne8, I prefer the former at the moment.
I've included the seven reader's games that were sent to me this time. The annotations are mainly the correspondents' except for where I've added GCF. The quoted ratings (in Games 2-5) are not standard ones but correspondence ratings I presume.
Here's a quick summary of how we all might benefit from these games:
Game Two: It seems that 12 Bf4 is not that dangerous. Instead 12 Be3 has scored well for White in the last couple of years.
Game Three: I don't rate 10 Bg5 very highly and (in the notes) 8 Bf4 is tricky but Black should be OK.
Game Four: Here 9 Be3 is the Main Line. The best way to get something out of 9 d5 (but even then only a slight pull) could be my suggested improvement at move 16.
Game Five: The theoretically most important of José Soza's games is this one. Here 19...Nc4 represents a decent attempt for Black to escape his difficulties in this line. I however consider that White is better after 21 Qc1, rather than 21 Qb1 against which Black's queen sacrifice seems sufficient to hold.
Game Six: The opening isn't that interesting theoretically. The queen sacrifice was forced but didn't turn out too badly!
Game Seven: The bishop development on f5 makes a refreshing change from the typical play in this line.
Game Eight: The interesting part of this game is the fact that the Queen v Rook ending is technically difficult.
Two games where White keeps control and wins the day but in different styles. In Game 9 Cheparinov locks up the queenside before switching his attention to a kingside attack whereas in Game 10 Shulman avoids any tricky stuff and keeps his extra pawn into the ending. These are the sort of games that give Benko players nightmares!
In both cases White showed exceptional skills in outplaying the higher rated player, and the choice of late-opening plan by Black may not have been the best. See the notes for some suggestions for Black.
In Game 11 Gurevich shows how the Leningrad can be such a dynamic opening for Black. Eljanov is out prepared in the opening and then fails to find a satisfactory plan whilst Black builds up a dominating position. Gurevich's knight goes from a6-c7-e6-g5-e6-d4 whilst White tries to untangle his discoordinated pieces:
Two points in the opening are noteworthy: 11...e5 shows that Gurevich isn't afraid of Kindermann's 12 dxe5 (in the notes I suggest a possible reason why) and 15...e4 is a clear improvement.
Game 12 features Van Wely introducing a quirk into a positional line against the Stonewall. Moiseenko reacts actively and in the complications that follow certainly holds his own. Was Black even better? In any case the opening seems fine for the second player.
Both Games 13 and 14 are rapid games that involve the same opening variations that the players had tried out a day or two earlier. In both cases Black was up to the task of parrying White's attempts at improvement.
In Game 13 Vaganian rather slackly allowed a pin that soon became asphyxiating.
Arencibia's improvement in Game 14 against Smirin was certainly creative but doesn't seem to yield an advantage:
In their first clash Arencibia tried 15 Bh6 here, but in the second one he went for 15 Bd4!?.
Game 15 is another example of 4 Bg5. This has certainly been frequently seen in the last year or so in this column:
It seems that ...Be6 is the critical way of testing the soundness of White's system and here Vallejo Pons achieved equal chances in a very complicated middlegame. Towards the end he got carried away with playing for more than a shared point and almost got himself into trouble.
The theory in Game 16 goes deep into a middlegame where White has two pawns for the exchange. Quite a few strong players have tested this line but no final conclusion can yet be made, although I would be quite happy with Black who was closest to winning this actual game.
There's no doubt that Magnus Carlsen is something special and his results demonstrate his rapid improvement. However Game 17 wasn't a great display by him as he was all at sea in the opening and I believe that he misjudged the ending. In the Prins, Azmaiparashvili's opening choice with 8 Bg5!? c5 9 d5 yields the following position:
Carlsen's 9...e6? plays into White's hands (maybe the Norwegian was confusing this line with an analogous one from Game 2. I once lost a horrible game to Ftacnik here when he hit me with 9...h6 10 Bh4 b5!, a better response by far.
Till next time,