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Welcome to this month's update. Seven of the games given this month are from the Olympiad, which has proved a hot bed of new ideas.

Download PGN of May '06 French games

Advance 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.Be2

A fresh approach for Black.

Here Bareev has employed the unusual line 6...Rc8 7.0-0 a6!?:

This looks like an excellent way to avoid mainline theory and force the opponent to think for himself. Already White has to decide whether in the changed circumstances he is meant to be playing 8.Na3, 8.Nbd2 or some other move. It works a treat for Black in Sveshnikov - Bareev.

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

Adams avoids all the tactics

Here we put under the microscope the variation 5...c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4 8.cxd4 f6 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.Nf3 Bd6 11.0-0 0-0 12.Bf4:

In the sample game, Michael Adams as White puts his unfortunate opponent under more and more pressure until he can take no more. It is impossible not to admire such seemingly effortless play, even if the French is the victim. Here is Adams - Gurevich.

Tarrasch 3... c5 4.Ngf3 cxd4 5.exd5 Qxd5

Another way to escape from theory

Here I want to examine 6.Bc4 Qd6 7.Bb3!?:

If White's quiet bishop move, which clears c4 for the knight, can be made to work, then he has sidestepped the horribly theoretical mainline with 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Nb3 etc. It certainly does the business in Berg - Warner.

Classical 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Nbd7

Black under more pressure

Many years ago, I recall Joe Gallagher telling me that this variation was the refutation of 1.e4. However, since then White has developed some dangerous attacking systems against it.

In fact, one of them was employed in good style by Joe himself in a game previously given on ChessPub, Gallagher-Marcos. In this month's game, Shirov shows that this system still has fangs. Here is Shirov - Gurevich.

Classical 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6

Three exciting but double edged attempts by Black

Here the most exciting development has been the pawn thrust at the end of the variation 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 b5 9.a3 g5!?:

Black has suffered a couple of high profile catastrophes, but he is also winning some nice games and 2600 Elo players still have faith in 9...g5. In fact, players with styles as diverse as Bareev and Nakamura have given it a go! For an inspiring win for Black, and some sober analysis, check out Macieja - Nakamura.

Secondly, after 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4, Magnus Carlsen has made his contribution to what might be called the French 'Poisoned Pawn Variation'. This line was introduced into tournament play by Gary Kasparov, and, like most of his ideas, is still causing Black headaches. Here is Carlsen - Prasca..

Finally, we should check out Anand's latest win with his speciality 7.Ne2!? Black makes a bold sacrifice which might have proved good enough with more accurate play. Have a look at the analysis in Anand - Batchuluun.

Winawer Mainline: 7.Qg4 0-0

New hope for Black?

Hedinn Steingrimsson has asked for more analysis of the Winawer, in particular the game Delchev-Berg. That game featured the line 8.Bd3 Nbc6 9.Qh5 Ng6 10.Nf3 Qc7 11.Be3 Nce7!?:

If this holds up, it is a nice change from 11...c4, which is almost analysed to death. Anyway, here with analysis and a couple of other important games in the notes is Delchev - Berg.

Here I should say thanks for your interesting email, Mike- I'll look at your Winawer line next time, along with replies to other emails.

OK, goodbye for now. I hope your chess is going well! Best Wishes, Neil

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