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First of all sorry about the delay in getting this update online. On the plus side, there's a lot of stuff to look at here, so have fun!

Download PGN of August '05 French games

Tarrasch 3...Be7

An encouraging defeat for Black

I selected the first game partly out of nostalgia. Neil Crickmore and I were joint British Under 18 Champions way back in 1984. He then disappeared from the chess scene- I guess he did something sensible with his life.

Now, however, he has returned. In this month's game he had the chance to claim a draw by repetition against a FIDE K.O. World Championship Semi-Finalist rated 2679. Not bad for a player rated 2129!

It got me thinking that perhaps the old methods are best after all. Crickmore's recipe against the Universal System is simple: don't weaken the kingside with g7-g5, just calmly grab the d4 pawn and castle kingside:

Despite the outcome, the strategy worked out well for Black in Nisipeanu - Crickmore.

Tarrasch 3...Nc6

Another triumph for the Guimard

No one has succeeded in demonstrating how to beat the Guimard. On the contrary, the lines that were meant to be strong for White have been losing their power.

Despite being great rivals on the chess scene in Argentina, Miguel Najdorf and Carlos Guimard were business partners and worked in the same office. Therefore it is to be supposed that Najdorf gave a lot of thought to the problem of what to do against his colleague's favourite opening.

The variation that he employed resurfaced recently when Constantin Lupulescu used it against Lputian- that game was a draw. The young Romanian GM then repeated his prepared line against another 2600 level player, which led to an important encounter in Lupulescu - Riazantsev.

Fort Knox 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7

US Champion befriends the French

The expressions 'Fort Knox Defence' and 'Lethal Attacking System' are seldom used in the same sentence, but Nakamura often manages to generate dynamism from modest beginnings. Here he takes advantage of White's slow play in energetic style- enjoy Friedel - Nakamura.

Classical 4.e5

A pretty but flawed attacking display by Grischuk

We revisit the Classical Poison Pawn Variation:

Any line in which White allows Black to snatch a couple of pawns is going to lead to a hard battle. Here, with the latest theoretical verdict, is Grischuk - Zvjaginsev.

Winawer 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nge2

One and a half out of three.

This could be called the 'Swedish System' as GMs Hector and Berg are among its chief proponents:

I still rate 4...Nc6 for Black here. You may recall that last month Emanuel Berg battered Bareev's Classical Defence with 16.Bg6!! Here the Swedish GM comes up with an equally inspired sacrifice on the black side in Hector - Berg.

After 4...dxe4:

, White can employ a tricky variation that still needs to be fully analysed. Berg takes the white pieces in the first game, but he is unable to generate enough attacking chances to trouble his opponent in Berg - Ivarsson.

Finally, we look at an ambitious counterattack by Black, which leads to massive complications in Markovic - Maksimovic.

Winawer 7.Qg4 0-0

Some important reassessments

This whole line is awash with theory. It's quite worrying to see that I give a variation that goes on to move 42! Don't play this line unless you are well booked up- and even then you should be worried. Here is some more analysis in Areschenko - Efimenko.

Winawer 7.a4

The theoretical net widens- a good or bad thing?

The over analysis of the Winawer mainline has led players to seek out new ideas in previously neglected sidelines. Even 7.a4, which on the face of it appears to be one of the quietest moves on the board, has developed sharp theory. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as the growth of theory can lead to more dynamic games. Besides a blood soaked opening there is a highly interesting endgame in Felgaer - Shulman.

Well that's all for now. Next time I'll try to answer some questions from subscribers.

Until then good luck with your chess! Best Wishes, Neil