Welcome to the March 2002 French Update
Welcome to February 's Update.
All this month's new games are easily downloaded in PGN format using ChessPub.exe, go to ChessPub.exe, put the date on, say, 2nd April 2002, and then click on 'French', over on the right. All these games should appear!
You can also enter the specific ECO code if you are only interested in a particular opening. The updated eBooks can be found at the eBooks Download Page.
There have been a lot of interesting new ideas recently, so I'll get going straightaway with a game by the new star of chess.
Now that Ponomariov is FIDE World Champion we can expect players to start imitating his conservative style of play. Of course according to their strength some players will have more luck than others! A player's style is to a large extent defined by the opening lines he or she chooses, so it is interesting to see how Ponomariov avoids the sharp and highly theoretical lines in the 4...Qxd5 Tarrasch. The answer is: with a move not even given in Gufeld's book on the Modern French Tarrasch! I've selected an impressive recent game by the Scottish IM John Shaw, but you can find plenty of examples of Ponomariov's play in the notes to Shaw-Paci, [C07].
Tarrasch 3.Nd2/ 5.Bd3
Another game in which White takes on John Watson's Play the French recommendation 8...Qb6 with a line discussed in detail on this website- 12.b3! We are no closer to a final verdict on this line as Black makes a serious error early on. Nevertheless, the method White uses to exploit his advantage is very instructive. Check out Rizouk-Baron Rodriguez in [C06].
The main thing that separates 2600+ players from the 2500s is their creativity in the opening. They always seem to find new ways to set their opponents problems, even if the opponent happens to be a great expert on the opening variation. And when their is a collision between two world class chess minds it's not uncommon for the opponent to have anticipated the surprise at home and already found an antidote! The rest of us study Informator and copy the ideas of Kasparov and Ponomariov. This is no bad idea- you can use them to win a lot of tournament and club games. But to actually take on the best at Linares or Tilburg any ambitious young player has to learn to do his own research. It is this original study that has allowed the young Russian player Grischuk to suddenly burst on the scene. In the game selected here he takes on French Defence wizard Gurevich and with an unusual opening idea manages to set him fresh problems. Gurevich rises to the challenge as you will see in Grischuk-Gurevich, [C02].
The next game is a truly marvellous display by former Russian Champion Volkov. You won't find a better example of how to combine a high level positional strategy- seizing control of a complex of squares of the same colour- with direct and vigorous attacking play. Volkov gets the balance between a refined build up and aggression exactly right. Enjoy looking at Beshukov-Volkov (in [C00]).
In a French player's worst dreams it is the last round of an Open tournament, he is around a point behind the leaders and his opponent plays something like 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.c3. This nightmare came true for Psakhis at a recent tournament in Russia. However, rather than launch a wild attack or agree a draw he displayed colossal patience and it was his opponent who didn't sleep well that night. Enjoy Dzhakaev-Psakhis in [C01].
At Linares, Ponomariov found a new way of handling the key line in the 8.Bd3 f5 mainline. Black was probably OK, but as we know the main purpose of surprising the opponent is to set him new, not necessarily insurmountable, problems in the hope that he will fail to solve them under the pressure of practical play. Ivanchuk was no doubt already a bit depressed at losing to Ponomariov in their World Championship match and he had more misfortune at Linares. Have a look at Ponomariov-Ivanchuk in [C18].
In the 8. Bd3 Nbc6 variation the Israeli GM Sutovsky has been successful as White with an outwardly harmless-looking system which involves the immediate exchange of queens. It's worth reminding ourselves that the endgames reached from the Winawer mainline don't always favour Black, despite White's double c-pawns; often the two bishops and White's potential to gain space on the kingside is more important. In the illustrative game Black makes some careless moves and is soon in deep trouble. Check out Sutovsky-Drasko in [C18].
Here we look at 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.g3!? Along with 5.Bd3, this represents one of the annoying sidelines that is only an option for White in the Rubinstein move order. If Black had opened with the Classical 3...Nf6 4. Bg5 dxe4 move order it would have been impossible. Not only is the fianchetto of the bishop a strong idea in itself, it is also a good psychological choice against a player who wants to play a complicated game- the positions that result remind me of the Catalan in the Queen's Gambit Declined. White gains a big scalp in Fressinet- Morozevich in [C10].
After 1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 previously we have looked at 3...Bb4 and 3...Nf6. Now it is the turn of 3...d4. The selected game shows that for all the refinements in chess technique you can't afford to ignore the basic laws of strategy. Black wins easily- far too easily- after White, rated 2527, forgets about the principle of centralisation. Here is Guseinov-Filippov, [C00].
Here we fill in a gap in our coverage of the Alekhine-Chathard Attack. After 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4 c5, instead of 7.Bxe7 Kxe7! White can play 7.Nb5?!- I think this is a poor idea but it leads to very messy play. In the illustrative game Black- rated 2331- is taken by surprise and has a lost position in less than 10 moves. To avoid the same fate check out N.Rogers-Schneider in [C13].
Goodbye for now. Next month I'll try to answer some queries from subscribers and look at some more of the big-name French games from Linares. Until then have fun in your tournament games!