What's New- July '01
Welcome to this month's Update.
First of all, have you managed to use any of the ideas given on this site in your own games? If so, I would be very interested to publish them here. Any new ideas or comments about the site are very welcome. Meanwhile let's see what's been happening in July.
Theory refuses to stand still and variations are continuously being reassessed. That is one of the frustrating things in chess- just when you think you have your opening repertoire nicely worked out along comes a Russian Grandmaster with a new idea which overturns the applecart. Or in this specific case, not a Russian but a Dutchman and a Swede. The story begins some years ago when Kasparov beat Short in a well known game at Amsterdam 1994 which went
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 a6 11.h4 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Rh3 b4 14.Na4 Bxd4 15.Qxd4 f6 16.Qxb4 fxe5 17.Qd6 Qf6 18.f5 Qh6+ 19.Kb1
Now after 19...Rxf5 20.Rf3 Rxf3 21.gxf3 Qf6 22.Bh3 Kf7 23.c4! Kasparov developed a winning attack. At the time this seemed very convincing. As a result, in Mastering the French I say that 15...f6 is logical, but tactically flawed, and applaud 18 f5 with two exclamation marks. Well thanks to some recent games I'm wrong-15...f6 lives again!
The good thing from Black's point of view is that he has re-established his most logical move -15...f6 attacking the centre- as also tactically acceptable. He hasn't done very well with alternatives such as 15...a5- for which see Fedorov - Korchnoi.
Well that's the sales pitch for 15...f6. There is a drawback, and that is that White can force an immediate draw if he wishes!
Still, it is up to White again to try to defeat the move. Meanwhile, Black is fine in Wedberg-Brynell, JUL01/03- see what you think of the analysis.
Temporarily at least this represents an antidote to 13 Rh3. The alternative 13 h5 hasn't proved that great for White either. A third method for White has been championed by the French Grandmaster Manuel Apicella, namely 13 Bxc5. However, in the next game he faces Mikhail Gurevich who handles the Black pieces wonderfully. Therefore the whole variation with 8...Bc5 is looking really good for Black. Take a look at Apicella-Gurevich, JUL01/02.
The mainline after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 gxf6 seems to have become established as 7.Nf3 a6 8.g3. White has admitted that any violent attempts to destroy Black's set up will fail; therefore he adopts the modest fianchetto of his bishop.
Here we see Morozevich in action again. You might wonder how the Russian Grandmaster manages to survive among the world elite with such a narrow opening repertoire- the 6...gxf6 Classical is always thoroughly predictable when he is Black.
The secret is that he never treats the opening in a routine way. As you can see on the 4 Bg5 dxe4 subpage, recently against Polgar he acted on the queenside with 8...b5; against Milos after 8...Nc6 9 Bg2 he broke in the centre with 9...e5; and now against Leko we will see him play on the kingside with ...h7-h5. The game Leko-Morozevich, JUL01/06 is not very exciting, but it shows the versatility that has kept Morozevich one step ahead of his opponents when it comes to opening preparation.
The Classical 4 Bg5 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Nbd7
On the 4 e5 dxe4 subpage this line is described as the 'The Super Solid 5...Nbd7'. Therefore it is somewhat ironic that Vishy Anand, the FIDE World Champion, should suffer his first defeat this year in classical chess when playing it. Topalov improves on an earlier game he had with Shirov and Black never seems to fully equalise. Have a look at Topalov-Anand, JUL01/07.
Here I have enjoyed watching Scotland's two top players- Jonathan Rowson and Chesspublishing's Paul Motwani- discussing the 6...Qa4 7 Bd2 Qa4 variation.
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e5 c5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Qa5 7 Bd2 Qa4
Rowson elected to play 8 Qb1 which has the good feature that it virtually forces Black to close the queenside with 8...c4 or else 9 Bb5 could prove nasty.
-Black no longer has pressure on d4 or along the c file
-Black can no longer exchange off his bad bishop with b7-b6 and Ba6.
The drawback for White is that b1 is a worthless square for his queen. If he wants it to join in a kingside attack, then he will have to put it on c1 or back to d1. So White has definitely lost time. Still, in view of the blocked nature of the position that isn't so critical. Having forced 8...c4, White has to decide how to conduct the attack on the kingside. One idea is to advance the h pawn to h5, which gains space and more or less compels Black to play h7-h6 to stop its further advance.
The second approach- which Rowson adopts in the game- is to leave the h5 square vacant so that he can put a knight there to terrorise the black kingside. It proves successful, but only after Black loses time in the critical position. Have a look at Rowson-Motwani, JUL01/09.
On the Tarrasch 3...c5 subpage I describe the variation 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 cxd4 5.exd5 Qxd5 6.Bc4 Qd6 7.Qe2!? as a 'tricky sideline'. Now it is coming to prominence as White seeks ways to avoid the long mainline beginning with 7 0-0. In a recent game Rozentalis upset the theoretical verdict in the well established line 7...Nf6 8.Nb3 Nc6 9.Bg5 a6 10.0-0-0 b5 11.Bd3 Be7 12.Kb1 e5. Now White is meant to have nothing better than 13.h3 to prevent a pin with 13...Bg4, when 13...Be6 14.Rhe1 Rc8! is nevertheless very pleasant for Black. Instead Rozentalis plays a new move and crushes a 2600 player in very convincing style. This seems to revitalise the whole line for White. Whether you play this as White or Black you should take a close look at the game Rozentalis-Rustemov, JUL01/05.
I have had a couple of weird experiences lately in the 3...Be7 variation.
One of the strangest things about chess is transpositions. Just look at the game Adams-Morozevich, JUL01/08 from the recent Dortmund Super GM tournament. This is the latest in a long series of tussles between the Englishman and the Russian in the 3...Be7 variation It opened:
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Be7 4.e5 c5 5.dxc5 Nc6 6.Ngf3 Bxc5 7.Nb3 Bb6 8.Bd3
Now playing through this game I was sure I had analysed this position before and had concluded that White could keep a slight advantage, but Morozevich's 8...f6! baffled me, not so much because Black seems to equalise without much trouble but because I couldn't remember even considering this obvious attack on e5. It was when I checked things on the database that the mystery was solved- I had indeed seen the position before, but with White to move, thus:
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Ng8 5.Ngf3 c5 6.dxc5 Bxc5 7.Nb3 Bb6 8.Bd3 Nc6
The black bishop only took one move to capture on c5, but on the other hand the knight took two moves to end up back on g8.
It is no wonder that in the illustrative game Morozevich's extra tempo gave him a comfortable position. Soon he seized control of the centre and won after an exciting though not completely error free battle.
ChessPub is a great way to play through a lot of games quickly. I was looking through Aaron Summerscale's analysis on the Colle when I came across the following game:
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.c3 e6 4.e3 d5 5.Nbd2 Nc6 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 8.dxc5 Bxc5 9.e4 Qc7 10.Qe2 a5 11.e5
Here Black played 11...Ne8? and lost to the Greek Gift after 12 Bxh7+ Kxh7 13 Ng5+ Kg6 14 Ndf3! when White gradually built up his attack and eventually won. I couldn't help wondering what would happen after 11...Nd7 rather than 11...Ne8, when the slow build up after 12 Bxh7+ Kxh7 13 Ng5+ Kg6 14 Ndf3? just allows 14...Ndxe5 which looks good for Black.
By now you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with the French. Well, I gave the position after 11...Nd7 to one of my pupils Thomas Rendle as a training exercise and asked him what he thought of the sacrifice- 12 Bxh7+: was it any good? To my surprise, he said that he had played it all himself as Black in a tournament game! It came about via the move order:
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Be7 4.Bd3 c5 5.dxc5 Nf6 6.Qe2 Nc6 7.Ngf3 Bxc5 8.0-0 Qc7 9.c3 0-0 10.e5 Nd7
In fact it's not exactly the same position as Black had played ...a7-a5 in the Chemin game- he didn't play ...Be7 and only then ...Bxc5. But still this is a remarkable transposition.
Thomas' game continued 11.Bxh7+ Kxh7 12.Ng5+ Kg6 13.Qd3+ [now taking the knight on g5 leads to mate in three moves, beginning with 14 Nf3+] 13...f5 14.exf6+ Kxf6 and White [rated about 2200] played 15.Ndf3. I guess he should have taken back some material, maybe with 15 Nh7+ or 14 Nxe6 on the previous move, but it isn't at all convincing. In the end Black almost won but White escaped with a draw. The Greek Gift sacrifice doesn't always work, contrary to the impression given in books and newspapers. It's the nice, short attacking games that get published not the games where Black successfully resists the attack and wins in the end.
So I guess after 11...Nd7 White must play more slowly with 12.Re1. Then with e5 solidly defended 13 Bxh7+ is on the cards again. If 12...h6 13.Nb3 Be7 14.Bc2! preparing Qd3 looks strong. So Black does better to retreat the bishop immediately with 12...Be7. Then 13 Nb3 stopping Nc5 and with ideas of Nd4 looks like a sensible move.
I suppose the moral of all this is that you can never know too much. You wouldn't expect important ideas in the French to be lurking in the Colle!
It is extraordinarily difficult to make a 100% score in a tournament, even if you are the absolute favourite. A draw will almost inevitably be dropped here or there. Yet Mikhail Gurevich made 9/9 in the Belgian Championships- a fantastic achievement. Here is one of his games in which he provokes White into a premature attack. In the ensuing complications Gurevich is just tactically too strong for his opponent. You'll enjoy Meessen-Gurevich, JUL01/01.
Advance: Mainline with 5...Qb6
Finally, in the variation 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Be2 cxd4 7.cxd4 Nh6 8.Nc3 Nf5 the continuation 9.Na4 has long been regarded as drawish, though in fact White might keep a minimal edge- see NM221. Therefore White has tried the more aggressive 9.Kf1 which gambits the d-pawn. Should Black accept the offer? Have a look at Minasian-D.Petrosian, JUL01/04 for the answer.
Well it's goodbye for now. I hope your chess is going well and good luck in your tournaments!