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Sorry about the delay in getting this online. I hope to catch up with another update by the end of next week, as there has been plenty of interesting chess over the last month.

Download PGN of January '06 French games

Advance Mainline 3.e5 c5

Fine game by a veteran master

The first two games this month demonstrate the importance of understanding the ideas behind an opening. In both cases, as soon as White has to think for himself he chooses a poor plan and is on his way to defeat.

We start with an excellent game by former World Championship candidate Artur Yusupov. First of all, he comes up with an off beat variation as Black that confuses his opponent and so allows him to gain the initiative. Yusupov then makes an inspired exchange sacrifice which is more characteristic of the 3...Nf6 Tarrasch than the Advance variation. Enjoy Markgraf - Jussupow.

The next game is another great advertisement for Black's dynamic chances in the French structure. After 11 moves, Handke, a very strong player, is either out of his theory or he is trying to improvise:

Here he plays 12 b3?!. Anyway, whatever the cause, it takes just a couple of inappropriate decisions to land him in deep trouble. Here is Handke - Polzin.

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Be7 and 3.Nd2 Nf6: Ngf3 Variation

More hard battles in the Universal System

Phillip R. Davis sends the following email:

«Dear Neil,
I am only playing casual chess these days, but my sparring partner sprang the Korchnoi Gambit line on me so I came to your site to check out what to do and ...voila... there it was featured the very first thing. Thanks for the great work you do; i don*t use Chess Publishing a lot these days, but when I need an guys are there with the goods. Thanks, P. R. Davis (the one who likes your tactics books.)»

Thanks Phillip!

Thomas Rendle has sent me a game from a tournament in which he came extremely close to getting his final IM norm- a win rather than a draw in the last round would have done it. Earlier in the tournament he faced top Grandmaster Danny Gormally with Black in the Universal System. It was a hard fight, but Black survived, and his play can probably be improved. So perhaps the dreaded Ngf3 System is losing some of its bite? My thanks to Tom for his comments to the game, which you can read exclusively here on this website by clicking on Gormally - Rendle.

Thanks for considering my question in last month's update. Here is another one:
I am referring to the game Filipovic - Stojanovic, TCh-BIH, 2004 in which the universal system was played against the Tarrasch and Black answered with 7. ... g6 8. h4 Qb6 9. h5 g5 10. Ng5 cd4 11. cd4.
I would like to propose 11. ... Qd4, instead of Nd4. To be fair, I came across this move in Psakhis' recent book on the Tarrasch and found a bit more detail in Pedersen's 2005 work on the Tarrasch. Pedersen also references Plaskett - Adamson, Newcastle 1998
Let's have a look:

a) 12. Nb3 is followed by Qe5+, 13. Kf1 h6 14. Nf3 Qg7
b) 12. Ndf3 Qb4+
b1) 13. Kf1 and here Fritz9 likes h6, although Nce5 looks not too bad either
b2) 13. Bd2 Qb2 14. Rb1 Qa2 15. Nh7 ( 15. Bc3 - as mentioned by Pedersen - Nc5, as suggested by Fritz9) Be7
What do you think? Should we update the eBook?
Thanks, Sebastian Gueler, Boston, USA»

Thanks to Sebastian for pointing out this important idea. However, I have had a look at this in the light of a recent game, and I think Black may be in trouble. It's nice to know that Pedersen and Psakhis both suggest this for Black, as I play Ngf3 sometimes as White!

I don't always feel entirely happy trusting a rapid play game, but Fedorchuk's play is very convincing. Any more thoughts on this- from Sebastian or any other subscriber? Here is Fedorchuk - Radziewicz.

Fort Knox 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4

A very dangerous trap

The best traps are those that are reached through the victim making a series of natural moves. Everyone plays ...Nd7 as Black in the Fort Knox sooner or later; but you had better be watching what moves your opponent has been making, especially if you are playing a Grandmaster by the name of Kotronias:

You can avoid a lot of scary moments by checking out Kotronias - Franchini.

Winawer Mainline 6...b6 7.Qg4

Bogdan Lalic takes over the world

A couple of weeks ago, GM Bogdan Lalic was nice enough to send me an important recent game with detailed notes. It certainly raised my spirits in regard to Black's chances in this variation. After White's raid on the kingside with 7.Qg4:

, it seems that Black should return the compliment by putting his own queen on c6 as soon as possible. Lalic knows best as shown in Balcerak - Lalic.

Here is another version of the game with verbal commentary for those of you lucky enough to understand Serbo-Croat- that doesn't include me unfortunately: Balcerak - Lalic2.

We aren't the only players to benefit from Bogdan's analysis. Grandmaster Kogan sent Bogdan the following email:

«Thx for the game u send me I was a bit more ready than usual today against this line! Incredible that he followed your idea because u send him your game! hahaha. Lalic is controlling the world!!!»

Concerning the next game, Bogdan comments:

«In my notes to Balcerak-Lalic I said that after 10.Bd3 Black should play 10...Ba6. Romero played ...Ne7 and lost. You can add that game to my game. Do you agree with GM Kogan that I am controlling the world via internet?»

You can judge for yourself by looking at Kogan - Romero Holmes.

Finally, here is yet more analysis on the variation by Bogdan in Korneev - Lalic.

My thanks to Bogdan, a strong professional Grandmaster and a fine theoretician, for revealing his analysis. You now have a complete, thoroughly up to date repertoire as Black versus the Winawer!

Winawer Mainline 5.a3 Ba5 6.Qg4

A beautiful queen sacrifice that proves the wisdom of crowds

Mark McCullagh sent me an email on the subject: 'Correspondence defeat for IM Radoslaw Jedynak who was playing the French by a group of amateurs'

«Hi Neil
I arranged a correspondence game between IM Radoslaw Jedynak of Poland and ICC's Lechessclub. The game became a "French: Winawer, advance, 5.a3". The following notes (slightly edited) are by Jim Blackwood a US chess master who led some of the Lechessclub analysis sessions:-
On the Internet Chess Club the LeChessClub group played a consultation game versus IM Radoslaw Jedynak of Poland, known on ICC as "Moonspell." This game may be of theoretical interest as it attempts to improve on the game Ponomariov vs. Borovikov, Governor's Cup 2001. The strength of the crucial line, beginning with 13.Bxe4 rests on the evaluation of the positions arising after 14.Qxg6, when White has traded his queen for two minor pieces. This key idea was discovered by Robert Harris, on ICC "GolferBob." If the idea stands then Black will be searching for a new 12th move. The time control was relaxed," somewhere in the vicinity of correspondence controls. LCC decided on its moves by holding analysis sessions after which the members would vote for a move. On most moves from ten to twenty players took part in the voting. It should be mentioned that early on LCC agreed with Moonspell that use of computers for analysis, thought to be unavoidable anyway, would be allowed. Welcome to the 21st century!
I am not going to give any notes to this game other than to point out where it diverges from the Ponomariov - Borovikov game. As one of the LeChesser's who participated in this game, I found at the time, and it still seems now, that the variations after 14.Qxg6 will not be solved so easily, and I imagine we'll see many tests of this line.
J. Blackwood
"blackwood" on ICC
Tucson, AZ USA»

So here is the pretty game LeChess - Jedynak.

Thanks to Mark for making it available on this website!

Winawer Mainline 7.Qg4 cxd4 8.Qxg7: Poison Pawn Variation

The power of a new idea

We end this month where we started. Black comes up with a novelty: within two moves he is no longer worse; after five moves he is winning. Such is the effect of a new move on a double-edged variation. It is amazing that after decades of opening analysis, every tournament still throws up a fresh supply of new ideas. Will the tap ever run dry? Will it be turned off by FischerRandom? Anyway, here is Petrosian - Lputian.

It's time to say goodbye. I hope you enjoyed this month's games. Thanks to everyone who helped me with their contributions. If any other subscribers get the urge to get into contact, you know the address (!

Best Regards, Neil