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Welcome to this month's update.

Remember that the updates are only the tip of the iceberg as far as material on ChessPublishing is concerned. In the French section alone there is a huge database of way over 600 games (annotated by yours truly!), not to mention the eBooks, playable and printable, etc.!

Download PGN of June '05 French games

We'll begin with something that your great great great grandparents might have played!

1.e4 e6 2.f4 & 1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e5 c5 4.b4

A weird Advance Variation and some other oddities

The move 2.f4 was popular in the age of McDonnell and La Bourdonnais. And no wonder: White gets to play the King's Gambit without even offering a pawn. After 2...d5 3.e5 c5 we have a centre structure akin to the Advance Variation:

An email from Christian got me looking at the two variations above (see the ), and I've tried to answer some of these queries in the game Fogarasi - Porat.

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3

Battle rejoined in the sharpest variation

The ultra critical line runs: 5...c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4 8.cxd4 f6 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.Nf3 Bd6 11.0-0 Qc7 12.Bg5 0-0 13.Bh4 Nh5 14.Qc2 h6 15.Bg6 Rxf3:

You may recall that last month we looked in detail at 16.Bxh5!? here. Now we revert to 16.gxf3 Bxh2+ 17.Kh1:

Gawain Jones, a 17 year old IM with an Elo of 2445, has kindly sent me an interesting game. Although White wins, it does nothing to change my view that he is asking for trouble in entering this blood soaked mainline. But judge for yourself by clicking on Jones-O'Cinneide.

My thanks to Gawain for contributing some notes to this game.

Classical 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Bb4

McCutcheon no laughing matter

Bill has sent me one of his own games:

«Here is a game I played a couple of years ago in the MacCutcheon, that might be of interest. My opponent was more nearly 200 points above me, but I thought I had a pretty good handle on the ideas. Please don't laugh too hard when you go over it...
As always, your site is superb; keep up the good work!»

Thanks Bill. I've let your game and notes speak for themselves. I've just added some very brief comments pointing out games on ChessPub and my opinion of several important moments up until move 14, when Black took control. Here is Ivanov - Conrad.

Winawer Variation 5...Ba5

Two theoretical novelties in one game

First of all congratulations to Marjan Semrl (whose letter appears in this month's ) on getting his first corr GM norm. And thanks for sharing his 11 Nh3 idea with us:

you can find it with his own notes in Semrl - Cilloniz.

I was impressed, but I was pleased to get a second opinion from someone I used to train.

Thomas Rendle, aged 18 and possessor of two IM norms, is an expert on the 5...Ba5 line. He has used it to beat Grandmasters- see for example Del Rio-Rendle. Therefore I emailed the game to him to see what he thought. A couple of days later I got the following reply:

«I've finally finished the analysis! Fritz has been working non-stop for the last few days, although it has sometimes needed a nudge down the critical lines. I am sending you what i consider to be the critical lines I have looked at. I believe Black is still OK! Certainly Black has adequate practical chances in an otb game!
I hope you find it helpful, feel free to disagree with my critical lines, i'm not 100% sure about them myself (heh, I'd need at least another week!).»

So here is the latest word- Analysis of 11.Nh3-Armenian Variation.

My thanks to both Marjan and Thomas. Anyone else want to offer their opinion?

Winawer Mainline 7.Qg4 0-0

No luck for Timman

In his recent match with Volokitin, the former World Championship finalist Jan Timman had no luck with the French. Fearing his opponent's preparation, he made second rate choices at key moments. A pity for us as we didn't get to see what Volokitin was planning. Nevertheless, both games are instructive demolitions of inferior play- here are Volokitin - Timman Game 1, and Volokitin - Timman Game 2.

Winawer Mainline 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7

The 13.Qxc3 variation revisited

A couple of years ago I considered that the following variation burnt out to a forced draw 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 Nbc6 11.f4 dxc3 12.Qd3 Bd7 13.Qxc3:

Recently, however, the line has been revitalised. For an exciting fighting game with a strong novelty by Black click on Firman - Kornev.

Chess is more than opening theory

In the Michael Rosa refers to the line 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 Nbc6 11.f4 Bd7 12.Qd3 dxc3 13.h4 Nf5 14.Rb1 0-0-0 15.h5 d4 16.Rg1:

Now 16...f6 was analysed in Harley-Webster In Michael's game Black played more conservatively with 16...Kb8. I couldn't find any games with this treatment by Black. A third possibility is 16...Nce7, so I have looked at both these last two ideas in Korneev - Kveinys.

Michael, please let me know what happened in your Correspondence game- as you can see I think the horse has already bolted as far as finding the best line for White goes.

The Korneev game also reminds us that there is more to chess than opening theory. White was doing very well, but he cracked under the pressure of needing to find one precise more after another in a tense situation. The theoretical assessment of wildly complicated games between 2600 players surely has no little bearing on the games of average tournament players. Of course, if like Michael you are playing Correspondence chess it is different.

Anyhow, that's all for now. My thanks to everyone who contributed towards this update. Have fun with your chess!

Best wishes, Neil