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Hi everyone,

First of all thanks to everyone for the positive comments about the site-they are much appreciated. And I'm glad you like the books Randy!

Download PGN of November '04 French games

Tarrasch 3...Nc6: the Guimard Variation.

Rumours of Black's death in the Tarrasch greatly exaggerated?

Subscriber Lucieana Kurnia writes:

«Hi Neil,
I read the October update and read only the sad tones in Black side against Tarrasch, and I think you miss the important update about Vaganian's win over Joe Gallagher in Calvia Olympiad.
Against 3.Nd2 Tarrasch, Vaganian used the less explored but super solid 3... Nc6 Guimard variation, equalised easily and even took a full point. It is one of the most French games that I like from Olympiad
I've looked all 3 important lines after 3... Nc6, that is
4. Bb5 (as the Vaganian's game)
4. c3 (the most interesting reply is 4..e5 ! that makes the structure is no like French anymore, bad bishop are becoming active bishop from move 4 )
4. Ngf3 (continued with 4.. Nf6 5. e5 Nfd7 and Black continue with plan f6. ef5 ep Qf6, then prepare for the e5 strike soon)
and it seems that are no forced lines that makes White much better. Only slightly better, mostly are equal, and if White mis-handle this variation (for instance treat it like the variation 3...Nf6), things could be turn very bad for White quickly.
Hope to hear your opinion about this variation.

Well the Guimard game in question does make a very bright impression for Black. I might add that you can find extensive coverage of the Guimard on ChessPub- assuming of course you have downloaded the program chesspub.exe! Here is Gallagher - Vaganian.

Tarrasch: Ngf3 Universal System

More good news for Black.

Bill Conrad writes re. the game Pengxiang - Gurevich (from the October update):

As usual, I read your page as soon as I become aware of it. In reading the notes to the game Zhang Pengxiang-Gurevich, I was curious about an option on move 13 of your note to White's tenth move (10.hxg5). Probably I'm just suffering from another case of chess blindness, but I was curious about 13...Rxh2, because White's kingside seemed a little under-defended. So I turned Fritz8 loose on it, and it liked my move! Here is some of the analysis (which is in the note starting "b) Fritz8:") by the Greedy Materialistic Bastard (as I like to call Fritz):
[10.hxg5 hxg5 11.Re1 g4 12.Nh2 cxd4 13.cxd4 ( 13.Nxg4 Qh4) 13...Qh4 a) Possibly even better is 13...g3 14.fxg3 Nxd4 aiming for Qb6 or Bc5.;
b) Fritz8: 13...Rxh2 14.Kxh2 (obviously White has to take the rook) 14...Qh4+ 15.Kg1 g3, and:
" 16.Ne4 apparently Fritz feels this is necessary; 16...Qh2+ 17.Kf1 dxe4 18.Bxe4 gxf2 19.Kxf2 Nxd4! White cannot take the knight because of 20...Bc5, winning. In this position, after 19...Nxd4!, Black still has "only" two knights for a rook, but, again, White's king is exposed, and his e-pawn is endangered. Black may even opt to ignore the e-pawn and pursue his attack, using White's e-pawn to shield any counterattack on the e-file.;
" 16.fxg3 Qxd4+ followed by taking the d3-bishop works out better for White from a material standpoint (Black has two pieces for a rook), but the e5-pawn is in danger of falling (Nf3 doesn't work because Black trades queens) and White's king is terribly exposed.
" 16.Kf1 gxf2 17.Nf3 (17.Re2 Qh1+ and the White queen falls.) 17...fxe1Q+ 18.Qxe1 Qg4 Black is a piece up. Fritz prefers to keep the queens on the board, probably to attack, but I would probably trade queens here. (BC)) ;
" 16.Nf3 works out basically similarly to 16.Kf1 for White.
So it would seem that Black wins outright in this line, if not by mate, then by a significant material gain. What am I missing?»

Nothing at all. I would just add 16.f4 Qh2+ 17.Kf1 Qh1+ 18.Ke2 Qxg2+ 19.Ke3 Qf2 mate.

So it seems that Gurevich has found an interesting system versus the 'Universal System'. The main drawback is that it can't be played versus 3...Be7. The next game might solve that problem.

Korchnoi versus the Korchnoi Gambit

I've always wondered what Viktor Korchnoi would play against the Universal System, as he was partly responsible for its birth in the form of the Korchnoi Gambit which goes 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5 Bd3 c5 6 c3 Nc6 6.Ngf3 Qb6 8 0-0 cxd4 9 cxd4 Nxd4 10 Nxd4 Qxd4 11 Nf3 etc.

Well my question was answered at the recent chess Olympiad. If you want to play like the great man, check out Navara - Korchnoi.

Tarrasch: 3...Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4

A forgotten variation

It's been a long time since we looked at this variation. In recent years White has focused almost all his attention on the Universal System. I guess this is because modern players want the initiative, whereas after 5.f4:

Black often gets to launch a spectacular [if speculative] attack as in the game Kotrotsos - Moutousis.

Fort Knox Variation

When I started commenting on this website five years ago, I described the Fort Knox as 'theory-proof'. It has since been assailed by a couple of sharp variations, but the description remains in essence true. However, Black has to get the basic positional ideas right, as treating the Fort Knox in the style of other French variations can be disastrous. To see what I mean, click on the sad spectacle of Frolyanov - Anastasian.

Classical: 4.Bg5 dxe4

As regards popularity, it is curious that the Classical dominates the Winawer at [strong] international level, whereas the situation is reversed in club chess- or at least that is the impression I get- I have no statistics to prove it.

Fourteen straight wins for Anand

First up is Anand's inevitable win versus the French. After this Update he has 14/14 with White on the website, or a performance of 3463 Elo. The winning recipe seems to be: play a new or forgotten move, snatch all the material on offer, defend like a genius and... win. Anand's king never seems to get mated, despite facing attacks from Shirov, Khalifman and Morozevich. This time it is incredibly easy in Anand - Gurevich.

Bareev takes a break from the Caro-Kann

Bareev was mostly on Caro-Kann duty at the Russian Championship, but he did take time out to win one nice game with the French. Here is Tseshkovsky - Bareev.

A wild idea for White

Whereas White's theory seemed a bit tired in the game above, next is a creative attempt to wipe Black off the board. It rebounds, but Classical fans had better watch out. Here is Ristic - Kovacevic.

McCutcheon: Mainline

White wants to castle after all

Here White has got tired of his king always floating around in the centre and so after 4.Bg5 Bb4 5.e5 h6 6.Bd2 Bxc3 7.bxc3 Ne4 8.Qg4 g6:

he has tried 9.Qf4 in order to recapture on d2 with the queen and preserve the right to castle. On the whole it works out well for White in the games analysed in Kobalia - Glek.

Winawer 7.Qg4 0-0

Yet another win for Anand.

Here the brilliant Indian Grandmaster takes a little known move with a bad history and uses it to surprise his opponent. Finally, in the notes to this game, do I see one of ChessPublishing's subscribers downing an International Master? Check out Anand - Ramirez.

Winawer 7.Qg4 cxd4

Finally here is an email from Tony Kosten:

«Hi Neil,
Just to let you know that I have used your ...cxd4 Winawer stuff a couple of times as a surprise weapon (in morning rounds, as well!) with great success!

Yesterday I beat Vogt in the Austrian league with it, so I was thinking you might be interested in looking at this game as most of the point belongs to you!
Best wishes, Tony.»

Here is Vogt - Kosten.

Well that's all for now. I hope some of the stuff proves useful. Let me know if you play any good games - or interestingly bad ones - with the French!

Best Regards, Neil