In Game One it seems that Bartel really has his heart set on playing the Leningrad Dutch and he ventures 3...g6. Personally, I'm not quite sure why people still play this move as the practical problems that result from White pushing the h-pawn are really difficult to solve. This particular game being a good illustration.
Theoretically, Sandipan's 8 Nh3 followed by delaying the capture of the h-pawn is a new and seemingly rather strong approach. So at the risk of repeating myself, after 1 d4 f5 2 c4 Nf6 3 Nc3, I recommend 3...d6.
In Game 2 Gelashvili tried to react to 8 Nd5 with a fairly active approach, however the queen didn't turn out to be particularly well-placed on b4:
Black played 11...Qb4 but after comparing this to the most popular move I have to prefer 11...Qb6. Have a look at the notes to see why! In the game Black sacrificed the exchange, but he never quite had enough compensation.
Giri's novelty on move 10 in Game 3 is certainly worth a look, an idea borrowed perhaps from other strands of the Dutch Defence. In the game he followed up with a pawn sacrifice that created problems for Reinderman, playing Black, but later on the second pawn offer was over-enthusiastic. In the latter stages, I couldn't find anything clear for Black but he was close to being better after the exchange of queens.
Game 4 features the same opening line as in the previous game, with Reinderman switching to 8...Nh5:
This could have been a savvy change to take White out of his preparation, or it could be that (in the intervening time) he hadn't found anything special for Black against Giri's idea.
The advantage switched back and forth in a long queenless battle, but as a general rule concerning the seemingly attractive ...f4: Yes it's OK if there isn't much going on elsewhere, but in the game White opened the other flank and the knight on h5 turned out to be out of play.
The plan for Black with 7...Nc6 8 d5 Na5 isn't one of Black's most fashionable, but certain players stick with it such as Polish GM Mateusz Bartel, who wins easily in Game Five:
Black plays as in a fianchetto King's Indian, Panno Variation, with the extra (and often useful) move ...f5 throw in as a bonus, so it can't be a bad system as White's manoeuvres are not that threatening. I'm sure Bartel agrees, and after this humiliation, perhaps Babula does too!
There are two games starting with 3 f3 this month.
In Game 6 Mamedyarov chose 8 f4 in the following position:
This actually turns out to be a transpositional move order to reach a line of the Exchange Variation (Grünfeld Defence) with 5 Bd2. I suspect that this was a prepared ploy as he later played a strong novelty as late as move 19. Indeed, the whole game was rather impressive from Mamedyarov who was able to extract a win from an exchange-up ending despite there being great technical difficulties.
In Game 7 Postny instead preferred the standard 8 Qd2, but after 8...Nc6 9 0-0-0 f5, chose the solid 10 e5 rather than the wild 10 h4. David Howell reacted quite imaginatively with a piece sacrifice that seemed to be sufficient for a draw. However he wanted more, but got less.
I have to apologize to Jean-Pierre Le Roux for showing Game 8 to the world! Apart from having a miserable French Championships he was torn apart by Vladislav Tkachiev who was in scintillating form on his way to the title.
In the actual game White's opening just didn't work, and having a good look at previous experiences in this line I have reached a surprising conclusion.
Here White's 6 Qa4+ is no good! How can this be so? Radjabov, Karpov and many others have played this move! I believe however that if White wants an opening advantage he should prefer 6 Na3 or 6 0-0.
Does anyone disagree? If so please demonstrate a line to me that offers White something!
Game 9 couldn't have been more different! There, Ivanchuk had done his homework in a line that he has played with both colours. His novelty led to some advantage for White and then with excellent technique he squeezed out a win, although Dominguez could have defended better.
Another fine victory by White can be enjoyed by all in Game 10. Wojtaszek first of all tried an interesting idea whilst still in the opening:
Gajewski seemed to have achieved a reasonable position as Black, but in the middlegame White found an attractive way through Black's defences. This all came about due to White's space advantage, which with 10 Rb1, getting off the long diagonal and threatening an early d4-d5 and c3-c4, gives White the potential for central expansion like in some lines of the mainstream Grünfeld.
Till next month, Glenn Flear