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Definitely an odds and ends month as I've given the popular Grünfeld a rest. Next month however it will be back with a vengeance!
I've been looking at developments in some of the more provocative openings.

Download PGN of July '09 Daring Defences games

English Defence

Against 4 Bd3 the plan of playing 4...Nc6 and then 5...Nb4 has been tried by many players over the years:

The perceived advantages of this line are that Black stays solid and doesn't need to learn too much theory. However now that this manoeuvre isn't a real surprise, White players are ready, and it is up to Black to find a convincing move order to wriggle out of the opening with a playable game. In Game one Czebe made the mistake of trying to break out of his shell too early which is always a danger when the opponent retains more space and the better prepared pieces for any line-opening. Instead I would recommend Black to complete his development first and patiently prepare any counter-thrust. A good example (see the notes) is Banikas-Henrichs.

Budapest Gambit

In Game 2 White plays the typical 4 Bf4 and this was met by 4...g5!?:

To me this is in the real spirit of the Budapest as Black creates a far more tense struggle than in the quieter lines. Naturally there is the danger of 'self-weakening and not much more' but it seems that there is no obvious method for White to exploit f5 or h5 and Black does obtain some dynamic chances. In the featured game White could not resist grabbing the h-pawn but was ruthlessly punished for his greed.

Benko Gambit

In Game 3 Likavsky plays 5 e3 against Tregubov. White's idea is to hold onto the b5-point. Black's early play involving ...e6 seems reasonable enough but I'm not sure it fully equalizes. In the game the advantage passed backwards and forth in a tough fight but, to my estimation, neither side actually missed a win.

Markos-Polak (Game 4) is probably the longest game that I've covered in this column! However after an original opening (that certainly confused his opponent!) White was always better.

Markos's novelty (7 Qf3 threatens 8 e5 with plenty of tricks) worked in this game but I have analyzed a couple of ways in the notes for Black to equalize. Surprisingly, White never managed to win this game, but probably 26 Ra3 would have been more difficult for Black to defend. However even so I'm not sure it leads to a sure-fire win.

Jacob Murey accepts the pawn in Game Five against Boris Avrukh and plays a sort of fianchetto with the bishop on h3 instead of the usual g2. In the game Murey first of all tried to consolidate, but this plan wasn't easy and he eventually dropped a pawn. Then he pushed forward in the centre, but although we don't have the full story of this game it's clear that this was a slightly desperate attempt to complicate rather than suffer passively.

Leningrad Dutch

First and foremost, the new playable Leningrad Dutch eBook has been updated!

A couple of comfortable wins for Black in the Leningrad Dutch demonstrate that playing with 11...Rc8 seems a reasonable alternative to the more popular 11...Nc7. In fact Black has ambitions to play his knight on a more active route to c5 and even e4. Malaniuk has played this way move before:

In Game 6 Mamedjarova obtained good play in an analogous position (where White had played an early Rb1 which doesn't change a great deal), which turned out to be advantageous after White ceded the c5-square on a permanent basis. Clearly her (nigh on) 2500 opponent had difficulty finding a way to combat Black's smooth development.

One common theme in these two games was that White had a choice between allowing Black access to e4, or otherwise play f2-f3 which risks having a negative impact on other squares near the king. In Game 6 Maghalashvili played f2-f3 on move 14, whereas Naumkin waited until move 22, but both probably regretted their choice as the result was the same: trouble for White on the kingside.

Malaniuk's win in Game 7 is a great example of provoking concessions out of your opponent.

Albin Counter-Gambit

In both games White played the prophylactic a2-a3 (stopping Black having access to b4) as part of his set-up. This move can crop up at several points and is something that Albin players are no doubt accustomed to. Despite it having its useful side, it is worth remembering that this costs a tempo which Black can use to develop rapidly.

In Game 8 Papin's new move 8 g3 shouldn't be a problem for Black after 8...0-0-0 9 Bg2 d3! when the lead in development and general activity should give him a satisfactory game:

Popov's choice in the game was slack and Black lost a piece in an instructive manner.

In Game 9, Bekker Jensen-Tikkanen, White conducted the opening in positional style hoping to pressurize the Albin d-pawn and keep things safe. In the latter part of the opening Tikkanen's play was objectively questionable, but had the right psychological effect: White was invited to snatch material and enter complications. In the chaos that followed Black gained the advantage, but it wasn't quite enough to win against precise defence, however White didn't know his endgame theory and Tikkanen's enterprise was rewarded with the full point.

Blumenfeld Gambit and Neo-Blumenfeld (American? Gurevich?)

There are two games this time. In the first (Game 10) Azmaiparashvili improves on known theory and obtains a crushing position. I would be interested to know what Blumenfeld specialists think, but to me this makes one of the main lines look almost unplayable. Any comments?

Anyone fancy playing Black?

In Game 11 Dmitri Gurevich once again shows his willingness to defend this close relative of the Blumenfeld. Black's opening move order is worth noting as playing 3...a6 enables Black to retain a certain flexibility and, whatever White replies, this modest pawn move is generally useful anyway. Sargissian continued in perhaps the most principled way and the 'main line' of this 'nameless' opening (take your pick: Neo-Blumenfeld, American, Alburt, Gurevich) occurred. In this particular game White didn't have N-b5 available and so Black avoids the problems that arose in Game 10, so 3...a6 has it's points.

There was a suspicion that White had an edge, but vigorous play by Black (pushing the a-pawn and then later the h-pawn!) restored the balance.


Till next month, Glenn Flear

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