Campora gives the speculative 4...g5 a go against Peralta's 4 Bf4 in Game One:
However he soon regrets this and was well on the way to losing before the game became completely random in a big time scramble.
I'm a great believer in setting the opponent new problems with a dynamic opening choice, but frankly I think that 4...g5 is more likely to leave Black with problems to solve!
Benko Gambit Declined
In both of these declined games White has problems in the opening. In Game Two White is too tempted by the win of material and gets into hot water. Although this trap has been known in theory for 15 years the occasional player still falls for it!
In Game 3 Fogarasi demonstrates how to successfully activate and obtain a good position. In fact he managed to win a pawn but then allowed the game to become complicated rather than trying to consolidate his booty. A poor move later led to his demise. A case of allowing an advantage to slip and then losing objectivity when, of course, one is vulnerable to further oversights.
In Game Four Graf plays the opening in an original and very dynamic fashion. His chosen plan of ...h6 and ...g5 pushing at the dark-squared bishop is known, but rarely employed when the bishop has the convenient e5-square to go to:
The problem with White's solid set-up is that he doesn't have enough of a hold on the centre to be able to punish Black for his provocative play.
White tried the solid, but not particularly dangerous, c2-c3 against the Leningrad in Game Five. Anna Muzychuk reacts by taking more than a fair share of the centre with an early ...e5, whereupon White's undeveloped queenside didn't enable him to put enough pressure on the resulting hanging pawns. So Black seized the advantage, but then with almost too many good options, Black failed to find a killer blow. With more time I'm sure she would have taken Markowski's scalp.
Vladimir Malaniuk is a hardcore Leningrad specialist against whom his opponents generally have to have a good idea up their sleeve to test him. In Game Six it was Malaniuk who got his preparation in first with the novelty 10...e5!:
The Russian has already shown in the past that 10...c6 is perfectly reasonable, but 10...e5 seems logical and good.
I don't believe that the system for White with b3, Bb2 and Nc3 restrains the thematic counter very well and Black obtains a decent position. In fact Malaniuk dominated the whole game.
The next day Malaniuk switched to the ...c6-system against Gyimesi. In Game 7 he obtained a good opening almost too easily and this made him ambitious! I think his ...d6-d5 move is OK but I have my doubts about ...g6-g5 which will weaken the black camp if the slightest thing goes wrong. Perhaps the reason that ...c6 isn't so popular these days is that although Black can obtain a decent defensive position, it's far from evident that he can safely seek the whole point.
In Game Eight Turov employs a flexible move order which Vallejo has already tried:
Black then needs to choose a system with ...a5, ...Qe8, ...Ne4 or ...Nc6 and White can react accordingly. A matter of taste but some White players might find this a way of avoiding the types of position resulting from 7 Nc3 Ne4 and may indeed prefer to ultimately put the queen's knight on d2.
In the actual game the opening of the game turned out badly for Black, but he had earlier ways of avoiding a passive Stonewall.
The later stages of the game showed both players playing aggressively but White was always on top.
The final position that I have (it's conceivable that a few supplementary moves are missing) shows White about to capture the remaining pawn leaving us with a pawnless version of four minor pieces versus rook and bishop. A unique case as I can find no other examples in my 3 million-game database!
Albin Counter Gambit
There is no doubt that the successes of Morozevich and other notable players such as Kasimdzhanov has led to a popularization of the Albin. This cuts both ways as White players are also better prepared these days and the opening has lost it's surprise value.
In Games 9 and 10 some of the lines that Morozevich has developed with ...Nge7 receive further tests:
Kasimdzanov only drew in Game Nine but was close to winning just before the end. The opening seemed fine for Black who regained his pawn under satisfactory circumstances, so I don't think putting the bishop on f4 is a way to punish Black's gambit play.
In Game 10 one of the most awkward weapons against the Albin is strongly handled by Peralta who makes the win seem effortless. The queens come off, there are no attacking chances and Black may struggle to equalize, not exactly what the dynamic defences fan is looking for! So study the ramifications of Game 10 before getting too involved in what that Albin can do for you! On a brighter note, Perez Candelarion, who is not a regular Albin player, mishandled the defence at the end of the opening phase and there are some suggested alternatives for Black in the notes. These should help you with your research for a way to battle against a2-a3 and b2-b4, which is still one of White's best anti-Albin tries.
Till next time, Glenn Flear