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Hi everyone,

Welcome to the December 2004 Update and I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Please note that I have started trying to tidy my Roadmaps, and already the Classical eBook should be much clearer!

Download PGN of December '04 French games

Advance Mainline

US Champion at Sixteen!

A good place to start is a tremendous fighting game won by Hikaru Nakamura at the US Championship. In fact this is one of the most complicated games I have ever analysed for ChessPub. Here is Nakamura - Ibragimov.

Next up we have the fiery brilliance of Shirov versus the subtle positional mastery of Korchnoi. The veteran from Leningrad still has a lot to teach younger players about strategy, but in this instance tactical resourcefulness comes out on top.

Have a look at Shirov - Korchnoi.

Tarrasch 3...Nc6: the Guimard Variation.

The Guimard strikes again!

By popular demand I have increased the coverage of the Guimard. In Jones - Visser, Black comes up with a highly interesting pawn sacrifice which leads to a big attack and quick victory.

In the second example White is beaten even more decisively. The Guimard is becoming, statistically at least, the best way on ChessPub to meet the Tarrasch! Check out Karapanos - Nikolaidis.

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 c5

A great fighting draw and an important new idea

I worked out some time ago that out of the 650 or more French games on ChessPub, White scores around 52%- perhaps a little bit less than he is meant to score, but evidence that there is no great bias towards Black. The real casualty is the drawn game- it takes something special for a draw to make it into the list. Here is a game from the US Championship that just had to be included, despite the fact that there is no important novelty and no decisive result- Black's 28th move is amazing. Here is Benjamin - Shulman.

This variation is a good way for White to sidestep the mindbendingly theoretical line with 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Ngf3 cxd4 6.Bc4 etc. but the best way of handling it is in my opinion to be found in the game Tseitlin - Zontakh.

Classical Variation 4.Bg5 dxe4

A new chess star from Ukraine

Americans are justly proud of the achievements of Nakamura, but another name to remember is that of Andrei Volokitin who was born in 1986 and is already world number 20 with a rating of 2685. In this month's game the young Ukrainian manages to breath life into a variation that seemed harmless- just the sort of thing that Karpov did at his peak. Here is Volokitin - Nielsen.

Winawer 4.Nge2

Black mated by a knight

If 4...Nf6 can be made to work then it would be a good way to dodge the well known theory after 4...dxe4 or 4...Nc6:

Being checkmated by a knight is hardly a great advertisement for an opening system, but after enjoying a great game, see if you like the improvement for Black at move five. Here is Nataf - Ostenstad.

Winawer Mainline 5...Ba5

A bad day at the office for the Armenians

Within the space of 48 hours, two of the top Armenian players unleashed a secret weapon on two continents:

The outcome wasn't quite what they intended, as you can find out in the notes to Fressinet - Lputian.

Winawer Mainline 7.Qg4 0-0

Black is looking healthy again

Finally, we revisit a line that caused Black some worries 1-2 years ago. The days when 15.dxc5 deserved two exclamation marks are long gone. Check out Bluvshtein - Barsov.

That's all for now. I hope 2005 brings you a lot of success, not just with your chess!

Best Regards, Neil