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Hi everyone,

I hope you all enjoyed the recent tournament at Wijk aan Zee. It shows that chess is in no danger of being exhausted, despite the ever increasing amount of theory. As long as players want to fight, they will be able to fight!

Download PGN of January '05 French games

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Be7

Black in jeopardy

Here I've been surprised to discover that an apparently solid line puts the black position in great jeopardy. Maybe I'm being over pessimistic about Black's chances, but check out Pavlov - Vysochin.

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Nc6

Time to give the Guimard a try?

The Tarrasch with 3...Be7 has been one of the great success stories of the modern age in chess- an ugly duckling that grew into a beautiful swan in the space of five years. At the moment, the Guimard has approximately the same status as that of 3...Be7 prior to the late Nineties- perhaps, after decades of neglect, it too could become a major weapon in Black's hands?

The move 3...Nc6 first appears on my database in the game Spielmann-Nimzowitsch- a draw after some near-fatally eccentric play by Black.

Carlos Guimard was an Argentine Grandmaster born in 1913. According to my database, his first game with his system was in 1943 [he won] and his last game was in 1996 versus Smyslov, which he lost, but at 83 years old. Overall Guimard had 12 wins, 7 draws and 11 losses with his opening in international play.

I think Guimard deserves to have the opening named after him. For Nimzowitsch it was an experiment, but Guimard devoted more than half a century to it. I can't resist giving a nice win by the pioneer himself: here is Pachman - Guimard.

Looking at the Forum, I saw the following note:

A question for Neil concerning Jones-Visser
" on: 01/28/05 at 19:20:45
I helped the strong IM Visser with his preparation for the tournament in Groningen, and he succeeded in winning the tournament plus scoring a GM-result . But he wasn't very satisfied with his win against Jones; he improvised during the game and in his opinion white has a very good position if he plays (after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nc6 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nd7 6.c3 f6 7.Nh4 g6!? 8.Qg4 Bg7!?) 9.f4! with a strong centre. What is your verdict, Neil?»

Yes, it was a great result for Ynge Visser- and some of the credit has to go to Guimard. As I mentioned on the Forum, I saw Gawain Jones at the 4NCL, the English Chess League, a little while ago. He also pointed out that 9.f4! looks good for White:

It was a pretty win and a just reward for improvisation, but is Black's play watertight? I had a look at the game again and have written some new notes on the critical position in Jones - Visser.

I think I have rather underestimated 6.c3 in the Guimard:

Here is an example of the danger Black faces if he is careless- with a suitable antidote included as well. Be warned by Moiseev - Galinsky.

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 c5

Boy wonder strikes again- but was Black OK?

Next up is a fine attacking game by Magnus Carlsen, who shows just how lethally he can punish tactical errors.

His opponent , Bosnian GM Predrag Nikolic, is normally ultra solid, so I was amazed by his run of losses at the Wijk aan Zee 'B' tournament. Still, he is a Professor of the French Defence and we can learn a lot about theory through studying the games he played there, even if he did tend to have accidents later on in these same games. Here is Carlsen - Nikolic.

Classical Variation 4.Bg5 dxe4

Mixed results for Stellwagen at Corus

The best result at Corus for Black in the French was Daniel Stellwagen's vigorous win over Alexandra Kosteniuk. If you want a lesson in the role of the pawns in developing an initiative, check out Kosteniuk - Stellwagen:

Stellwagen had less luck against Sergei Karjakin in the critical last round of the tournament. The young Ukrainian adopted a variation that has looked exceedingly threatening for Black in the past, but has now grown rather stale. Still, after losing in a 101 moves the previous day, Karjakin is to be praised for the grit he showed in grinding out the win and so claiming clear first prize in the tournament. Here is Karjakin - Stellwagen.

Winawer Mainline 6...b6

A crushing novelty for White

In a bygone age, Tigran Petrosian and other Winawer devotees could hide from sharp theory in 'positional' lines involving a queenside fianchetto. Nowadays torches are being shone even down these dark alleyways, as demonstrated by Baklan - Williams.

Winawer Mainline 7.Qg4 Kf8

An ever greater deluge of theory

This used to be a solid way for Black to avoid the complexities of 7...Qc7 or 7...0-0. Now it too is brimming with theory and tactics. The latest word can be seen in Belov - Socko.

That's all for this month. I hope you enjoyed the games- let me know if you have any comments. Next time I'll try to get round to answering some of the emails.

Good luck at your chess!

Best Regards, Neil