ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
It's been fun watching the M-Tel Masters tournament in Sofia: a lot of fighting chess and few boring draws. Of course there should have been more French Defences; but as compensation, our favourite opening had excellent results at the European Championship in Dresden. Six games from that event are featured this month.

Download PGN of May '07 French games

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Nf6

A second pawn sacrifice in the Universal System

A critical position is reached in the Universal System after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.Ngf3 Nc6 7.Bd3 Be7 8.0-0 a5 9.Re1 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qb6 11.Nb1 Nxd4 12.Nxd4 Qxd4 13.Nc3 Bc5:

Here, rather than the usual 14.Be3 I suggested the second pawn sacrifice 14.Nb5!? in an earlier update. At last it has received a practical test. I have spent some time analysing this variation and you can see the conclusions in Hutchinson - Berescu.

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 c5

Adams at his best

Michael Adams only won one game at the M-Tel tournament, but it was a great effort typical of his style: sharp play as required , then a slow positional strangulation of his opponent. Few of us have the patience [or skill] to sacrifice a piece and then make no attempt to force matters. You can only admire the little pawn moves in Adams - Nisipeanu.

Fort Knox 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7

The Fort Knox at its best

The following game is pure delight for those who hate opening theory. Black simply puts his pieces on good squares and wins because he plays better chess. It's as if the last 150 years of compiling variations have never happened. Here is Lomsadze - Rustemov.

Rubinstein 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7

Mixed fortunes for a Ukrainian Superstar

Sergey Karjakin has been involved in a couple of important games in the variation 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.c3 c5 8.Be3 Qc7 9.Ne5 a6 10.Qa4+:

What is his best way for Black to try to neutralise the pressure? I've tried to answer that question in the games Karjakin - Rychagov and Karjakin - Prusikin.

Classical 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5

Balmy days for Black, but will it last?

Black is continuing to score some outstanding wins in the variation 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 Be7:

The reason of course is that White hasn't yet learnt what he is meant to be doing against it. In the first game poor old Anton Shomoev gets another drubbing to match the one he got versus Riazantsev in the March update. In the second game, however, White 'got closer' and this may be the way he'll be tackling the line in the future. But we'll have to wait until Morozevich tries 7...Be7 against Anand to know for sure. Meanwhile here are Shomoev - Potkin and Zelcic - Riazantsev.

The above doesn't mean that 7...a6 should be chucked out. On the contrary, it remains very solid and reliable. The 17 year old Russian player Ian Nepomniachtchi is still unaccountably only an IM, despite being 2602 rating, but he uses 7...a6 to punish White's inferior play in super GM style in Zude - Nepomniachtchi.

Winawer Mainline 7.Qg4 0-0

A grey day for the 'Rustemov System'

Finally we look at the variation 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bd3 Nbc6 9.Bg5 Qa5 10.Ne2:

Black is destroyed in beautiful style in the featured game. From a theory point of view the moral seems to be that if you want to play Qa5 as Black, you should play it at move seven to rule out the Bg5 response. On the other hand, there might be secondary problems with 7...Qa5. We need more games to test this line, but meanwhile enjoy White's attack in Bobras - Can.

Well that's all for now. I hope you have fun with your chess, whether playing or watching or both!

Best Regards, Neil

Subscribers can email me at