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I guess most of us took some time out to reflect on the passing of Bobby Fischer. Whether or not he was the greatest player of all time, he was certainly the most important. I wonder how many of us would be playing chess today if it wasn't for Fischer? Personally, I didn't learn to play until five or so years after Fischer had given up, but my interest in the game was sustained by a large number of chess books at my local Library- and almost all of them had been published to take advantage of the Fischer boom. Fischer's popularisation of chess is an even greater legacy than his wonderful games.
Anyway, this update is a bit longer than usual as I had a little [well, a lot!] of help from my friends. IM Thomas Rendle has deeply analysed two of his games, including a possible theoretical novelty, while GM Bogdan Lalic has sent in an impressive attacking win. Not that you need to be titled to get an airing on this page- if you have an interesting game, write some notes and send it in!
Anyway, let's get cracking.

Download PGN of February '08 French games

Tarrasch: 3.Nd2 Nc6

The Guimard still looking great

One of the mainlines runs 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nc6 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nd7, and now against less active moves such as 6.Be2 or 6.c3 Black often replies 6...f6. He normally treats 6.Nb3 with more respect, responding with 6...Be7 or 6...a5. But in this month's game, GM Buhmann risked 6.Nb3 f6:

He won in deeply impressive positional style. But from a theory point of view, should he have got away with it? You can find a full analysis in Sandhu - Buhmann.

Tarrasch: 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Ng3

A sly way to get the Universal System

IM Thomas Rendle has sent me analysis to two games in which he reveals some secrets of his preparation- which is very generous considering he is an active tournament player looking for his second GM norm! Beginning with 1.d4, Thomas directs play into the so-called Universal System- is there no escape for Black anywhere from this dangerous attacking line?! Check out an exciting and theoretical game by clicking on Rendle - Karlsson.

Fort Knox: 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7

A difference of opinion

Regular subscribers will know that I'm a great fan of the Fort Knox Variation. Every month or so, at least one win by Black seems to creep into the update... Therefore it is probably healthy that Thomas Rendle has sent me a game in which he points out some possible drawbacks [what!!??] to the variation. With great notes by Thomas, here is Berg - Rendle.

Hecht-Reefschlaeger 3.Nc3 Nc6

Why doesn't anyone play this?

Well, the answer to the question above is that they do play it- though not as often as they should! You can find no less than nine other Hecht-Reefschlaeger games in the archives, besides the four added here. Hopefully that means you will be better prepared for the opening than any of your opponents- unless they are subscribers, of course [please try to persuade them to join by beating them!]

As a special feature this month I've looked at four games with this off beat opening. We'll begin with the reply 4.e5, when 4...f6 [the most aggressive response] 5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Nf3 is a critical line:

The first game is no advertisement for Black's System- but it is a wonderful demonstration of technique by a 2600 Elo GM. Black's passive play is punished in exemplary style in Fedorov - Stupak.

So, that's the sort of thing that Black needs to avoid. Our second game shows how to gain vital counterplay. You will notice that Fedorov himself only managed a quick draw in one of the sub-games when his opponent handled things correctly. Here is Zude - Meinhardt.

If you don't like 4...f6, you can try the alternative 4...Nge7:

Looking through the games with this line, and indeed 4...f6 as well, it's obvious that most players of White just don't know how they are meant to be meet it. An ordinary club or tournament player is hardly likely to have had this position on his board before you play him or her! Black has all the fun in Sankalp - Ghane.

The final game considers the popular response 4.Nf3, with play running 4... Nf6 5.Bd3 Bb4:

The tables are completely turned on the Fedorov game above, as this time Black wins a superb positional game. Enjoy Krivoborodov-Graf.

Classical 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4

Next up is the topical variation 5...c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 Be7:

The quiet 7...Be7 has gained some impressive scalps, and a lot of strong players have added it to their repertoire [incidentally, here you can see how success breeds success: the best chess players adopt an opening line in the same way that best football players choose to join the club that is likely to win them the most trophies.]

GM Bogdan Lalic has added some more to the reputation of 7...Be7 by winning a splendid attacking game which he has sent to me. You can see Bogdan's analysis in Abu Sufian-Lalic.

Winawer: 4.Nge2

An important novelty by Lputian?

The consensus seems to be that the best answer to 4.Nge2 is 4...Nc6. Then a popular line runs 5.a3 Ba5 6.Be3, after which we have examined 6...Nf6 and 6...Nge7. But in the Armenian Championship, Lputian came up with the rare move 6...dxe4!?:

A new move often enjoys success that outweighs its intrinsic merit due to the effect of surprise. Still, a 20 move win as Black against a 2562 player is very impressive by any standards, including Kasparov's! So we should look carefully at the analysis in Anastasian - Lputian.

Winawer: 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7

The white king walking into danger

Here we'll focus on 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.Qg4 Ne7 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Qc7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Kd1:

Searching in the ChessPub archives, I was surprised to find that I hadn't given any games with 10.Kd1. OK, White's king move is not very popular, but I remember that I had some sympathy with it when I was writing my book on the Winawer about eight years ago. Unfortunately, looking at all the evidence, it doesn't strike me as a reasonable way to sidestep the rainforest of variations after 10.Ne2. Still, Black had better be ready with some theoretical knowledge, or else he could come a cropper. I have given some of my personal ideas and a lot of illustrative games, including a Korchnoi game from 1966 [!] in Akshayraj - Bitan and Dekker - Quillan.

Well, that's all for now. I hope you enjoyed the update and picked up a couple of useful ideas. Let me wish you the best of luck with your games!

Cheers, Neil

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