ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
I hope you are enjoying your chess, whether watching, playing or teaching yourself some new tricks. There may be a lot of things going wrong with the world economy, but at least the Russians and other ex-Soviet states are managing to sponsor some great tournaments these days. As far as I'm aware, great players such as Fischer and Larsen never played in the USSR.
Anyway, let's look at some of the impressive chess that's been played over the last month.

Download PGN of June '08 French games

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Nc6

Once again the Guimard befuddles an opponent

We begin on a happy note with a 24 move win for Black featuring a queen sacrifice. What I particularly like about this game is that Black's light squared bishop, which is so often maligned as his problem piece, has the last word. That's a clue to a puzzle for you: Black to play and win:

Subscribers can check out the game with analysis by clicking on Wagener - Bauer.

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 Qxd5

Chess the easy way

Here is another puzzle. Nothing much seems to be going on:

The question is: can you predict how White [to play] managed to persuade his opponent to give up his queen for a rook and minor piece in only five moves? Don't look for tactics: just try to find the right line of play, and it will all follow naturally.

Here is the instructive game Faibisovich - Johannesson.

Fort Knox 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7

No luck for French expert Vaganian

Rafael Vaganian essayed the Fort Knox twice at the recent King's Tournament in Romania. He scored zilch, but the games were very interesting. In fact, Timman - Vaganian featured a plan I had never seen before, 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7 5.Nf3 Bc6 6.Bd3 Nd7 7.Qe2 Ngf6 8.Nxf6+ Nxf6 9.Bb5!?

Normally in the Fort Knox White forces Bxf3 at some point, and then jealously guards his two bishops. But Timman prefers to exchange bishop for bishop, arguing that in the semi-closed centre the white knight will prove its worth. Vaganian soon fell into a horrible bind, and the more I looked at the game, the more I started wondering if this was the refutation of the Fort Knox. However, I eventually calmed down and I think Black is OK now, as you can see in the notes.

Vaganian's other game was with Nigel Short. [Seeing the Englishman win a tournament ahead of Portisch, Andersson and co. transported me back to the 1980s.] The Armenian chose an unusual but noteworthy method of meeting one of White's most popular plans in Short - Vaganian.

Hecht-Reefschlaeger 3.Nc3 Nc6

The French Exchange all over again

No variation is perfect, not even 3.Nc3 Nc6. IM Goh Wei Ming has analysed two of his games featuring the variation 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.exd5 exd5:

Goh comments wryly:
'Having analyzed and studied some of the fascinating variations of the Hecht-Reefschlaeger (3.Nc3 Nc6) variation of the French, I couldn't help but complain at the number of times I have to face this move. Lower rated players are likely not to know too much theory and would rather simplify the position to prevent falling into any hidden traps. This also means that Black, who has studied all the traps and zaps in this variation, would not have a chance to display his fine opening knowledge and instead, has to slowly and patiently squirm his way to a win somehow. Do not let this simple move mislead you though: there are some poisonous ideas hidden that I wish to convey to you.'

Anyway, all's well that ends well, and Goh shows us how to outwit our opponents in Sankalp - Weiming and Lo - Weiming.

Classical 3.Nc3 Nf6

Fireworks as usual from Morozevich

In his game with Predojevic at the recent Sarajevo tournament, Morozevich improved on a game he lost to Topalov in brilliant style. The key position didn't arise on the board, but you can see it below:

Here the difference between Black resigning or winning is the move 23...d2!! which must have been prepared well in advance. For the game, plus detailed analysis, click on Predojevic - Morozevich.

Winawer 5...Ba5 with 7.Qg4

Impudence through perfect calculation

Most players enjoy checking over their own games or those of strong players using a computer program, but on the whole they don't much like watching games played by computers. Nonetheless, it can be intriguing to see them display a fearlessness in sharp positions that in humans would be almost suicidal. Here is HIARCS - THE KING.

Winawer 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7

The latest word on a head spinning variation

In the April 2008 update, we discussed Cheparinov-Grischuk, which reached the following position after 20 moves:

Cheparinov blundered with 21.Qc3?? The crucial move was 21.Ba3! when theory claimed that White was better. But what did Grischuk have in mind to overturn that verdict? This month we are nearer an answer with the hard fought game Becerra Rivero-Shulman.

Well, that's all for now. My thanks to Goh Wei Ming for his second contribution to the update. Good luck to everyone with their chess.

Best Regards until next time, Neil

Subscribers can email me at