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Hi everyone,

I hope you are all enjoying the Linares tournament!

Over the last couple of months I've spent a long time improving the French ChessPub Guides. It should make it much easier for you to prepare for a particular line before a tournament game, or to learn a new variation from scratch.

For example, in the Classical, the Alekhine-Chathard Attack now has its own roadmap, as does the rapidly developing 6.Be3 in the McCutcheon. The Fort Knox has expanded to two roadmaps, and in the Winawer the so-called 'Rustemov System' now has an eBook chapter to itself.

There are a lot of other changes- therefore you might like to download the e-books again onto your computer, and the new ChessPub Guides.

Download PGN of February '05 French games

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Nc6

Another attacking win for Black

A warm welcome to new subscriber Ron Deike, who asks for more coverage of the Guimard. I'm more than happy to oblige, as it is starting to look like an excellent way to take the opponent out of theory. This month's game shows how even a Grandmaster with a strong positional style can quickly get into hot water when faced with this unfamiliar opening. Here is Arkell - Plaskett.

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4

The danger of pushing too many pawns

This line is one of White's most ambitious responses to the 3...Nf6 Tarrasch. In the capable hands of a Karpov, Adams or a McShane, it can look like a forced win for White- all the tactics are suppressed and the white pawn chain gradually chokes the black pieces. But when lesser mortals try it they often push one pawn too many, or overlook a subtle way for Black to generate dynamism. Then the consequences for White can be catastrophic. In the example given here White is rated 2564, Black 2359; but the white king is mercilessly hunted down after he loses control in Sulskis - Saiboulatov.

Tarrasch: Ngf3 'Universal System'

The critical test of the whole system

An extremely important theoretical debate is taking place at move 13. As the position can be reached after either 3...Be7, 3...Nf6 or 3...c5 in the Tarrasch, we had better take it seriously:

Here I should take the chance to say congratulations to my Wood Green team mate Danny Gormally for getting his final GM norm after missing out in the last round of at least six tournaments.

As usually happens, after getting his final norm at Gibraltar[and beating Dreev en route] Gormally then got another norm straightaway at Cappelle- beating Mikhail Gurevich in the last round!

Meanwhile, the loser of this game, Gary Quillan, made an IM norm at Gibraltar- an excellent result. So you don't need to feel too sorry for him! Here is Gormally - Quillan.

Classical Variation 4.e5

Black is much better than OK!

These are balmy days for Black in the 4.e5 Classical. You should try to enjoy them while you can, as some nasty weather is bound to be ahead: Black is never allowed a free ride in any opening for long.

First of all, the crisis is over for Black in a pawn sac line introduced by Kasparov:

in fact, his problem now is how to avoid a forced draw. For a superbly dynamic display by Black, check out Van Haastert-Glek.

Secondly, a variation pioneered by Kramnik that caused a lot of terror has been well and truly neutralised by the response in the game Hertneck - Knaak.

And, thirdly, Black achieves a memorable draw against a much higher rated opponent in a line that deserves more attention. I really enjoyed Timoshenko - Heberla.

Winawer Mainline 6...b6

Black is dead and buried-again.

Last month I gave the game Baklan-Williams, which was a crushing 25 move win for White. I hadn't expected anyone else to venture into the same line so soon as Black, if ever; but here is Almasi - Kristjansson.

Winawer 4.Bd2

I was pleased to hear from subscriber Michael Roza that he has enjoyed the site. Actually, Michael, the book I say I'm going to write on the Winawer was written a long time ago, before DVDs existed, in fact- the 'About Neil McDonald' section of the website hasn't been updated since 1999. I guess it needs a revamp sometime. Not that anything memorable has happened in my life since then ...

I also have a game query from Michael Roza entitled 'Game that has gone nowhere':

«Hi Neil,
Here is a game that I played where i seemed to have the advantage but I just didn't know where to go.
Every mildly aggressive move seemed to provide an equal and opposite reaction. I'm Chess2003. I ran it through Shredder/Fritz and it didn't really say anything. In fact this is by far the least reaction it has had to one of my games.»

Looking at the game, I think the position got too blocked for the taste of a computer. Like the Timoshenko-Heberla gave above, it just goes to show that the best (commercial) computers are still weak in locked pawn structures. you can see the game with some notes I've written by clicking on Blue Knight-Chess2003 - my thanks to Michael for this instructive game.

Winawer Mainline 5...Ba5

A new idea for Black in a troubled variation.

The new Ukrainian star Volokitin and others have scored some tasty wins for White in the mainline here, so it is good to see that Black is fighting back witb some fresh ideas. Thomas Rendle has sent me some analysis to one of his games from Gibraltar, where he got his second IM norm. Well done to Thomas- it seems that Gibraltar was a happy hunting ground for British players this year!

Thomas came up with a new 15th move and scored an impressive win against his GM opponent. My thanks for the analysis, to which I have added some of my own commentary in Del Rio-Rendle.

Winawer Mainline: 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bd3 Qa5

An improvement for Black on move 23.

In the above comments, I was critical of Kristjansson for entering a busted line of the Winawer 6...b6. However, all is forgiven as here he reveals a new move that shows Black is OK in the life and death variation of the Rustemov System. Check out Fogarasi - Kristjansson.

Winawer Mainline 6...Qa5

«Hello Mr Neil McDonald!
My name is Thanasis Makris and I am a gold member on . I live in Athens , Greece. I don't have an elo but I play a lot and I am rated about 1800 (blitz) on icc. I am 23 years old. I play in an open tournament (ampelokipi open) these days which has many international elo participants. I'd like show you a game of mine and ask you about the opening variation (French Winaver). I played white and my opponent was rated about 2000 elo . it went like this...»

I have written some notes to this game, as I think most subscribers will find it extremely interesting. Have a look at Makris-A.N.Other.

Finally, thanks to Franz Schulze Bisping and Christian for the letters, answered on my emailbag.

OK, that's all for now. Have fun with your chess and see you next time!

Best Wishes, Neil