ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Hi everyone,

I hope you are enjoying your chess. It's a great pity that Gary Kasparov has decided to retire from active play. Amongst his other great achievements he has contributed a lot to the development of the French Defence, even though as far as I recall he never actually played it as Black. You need only look at the Classical section below to realise that his ghost is going to hang over chess for a long time to come.

Download PGN of March '05 French games

Well, life must go on and we'll start with an opening that is becoming popular after decades of neglect.

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Nc6

The Guimard: a death defying variation

In this update I've had a look at an extremely risky line in the Guimard variation with an early 8...e5:

You are almost guaranteed to be a piece up as Black after 11 moves, but if you aren't careful you will be mated after 20 moves!

The first example includes games played by Armenian Grandmaster Rafael Vaganian over a 32 year span. It seems that the Guimard was his first love, and now he is returning to it. He gets a comfortable draw against top Russian GM Sergei Rublevsky in one of the examples. Rublevsky plays the Ngf3 'Universal System', with great success against the Tarrasch 3...Be7 and 3...Nf6 and 3...c5 systems, so when facing him it is good to have a variation like the Guimard up your sleeve.

For an example of the fun Black has if White doesn't know the theory, check out Kharchenko - Fingerov.

After presenting around 700 genuine games, I've finally given an invented game, which is based on my own private analysis. If you know of any interesting recent games in this line, or just want to point out all the mistakes, then don't hesitate to email me at the usual address. Here is Caveman - Maniac.

Classical 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5

A good result for Black against the mighty Anand

I've always had a lot of respect for the variation 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 b5:

It was played twice against Anand at the Melody Amber event. Now that he has taken over from Kasparov as the World's strongest active player, the Indian Grandmaster is also borrowing his ideas: in both games he adopted 9.a3!? as played by Kasparov in his infamous loss to Radjabov at Linares in 2003.

Morozevich came up with a startling response that led to a wonderful blindfold battle in Anand - Morozevich.

Meanwhile Ivanchuk grabbed a pawn, but he couldn't cope with the incessant pressure of a rapidplay game in Anand - Ivanchuk.

So, only 1.5/2 for French killer Anand versus an average Elo of 2726. That's rather a below par performance for him!

Classical 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Bb4

A new weapon for White in the McCutcheon

The mainline with 5.e5 has become highly theoretical, so it's a good moment to look at 5.Nge2!?:

One advantage of this move is that it takes Black out of his familiar pawn structure. It is somewhat akin to the Winawer 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nge2 variation. Whether you play the McCutcheon as Black or want a fresh approach as White, I'm sure you'll find it worthwhile to look at the analysis in Ivanchuk - Volokov and Kharlov - Glek.

Winawer 7.Qg4 Qc7

Is Black dead lost in the Poisoned Pawn Variation?

I came to praise the Poison Pawn variation after seeing Karjakin brutally crushed with White, but instead I may have to bury it.

But first of all let's stop and admire Black's dynamic play in Karjakin - Ni Hua.

Well that was fun- Black didn't exactly look on his last legs. Nevertheless, I fear for Black in the variation given in the following game: Zwadzka - Quillan. I tried to find improvements for Black, but I didn't cheer up much when I analysed Cheparinov - Szymanski!

Of course, in games below international level, White is just as likely to end up in a Karjakin-style fiasco rather than play one perfect move after another, so unless you are a real high-flyer you don't need to be overly concerned as Black. If you are, then I'd suggest you do some repair work on the mainline, and for now give preference to one of the off-beat lines given in previous updates.

That's all for now. I hope to get the next update online fairly soon and answer some correspondence from subscribers.

Meantime have fun and success with your chess!

Best Wishes, Neil