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Welcome to this month's update, which is mainly dedicated to various weird knight moves!

Download PGN of November '06 French games

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Nc6

An instructive but flawed game in the Guimard

The first game up is far from perfect, but it nevertheless gives us an insight into how to play the Guimard variation. It also shows once again the enormous value of surprising the opponent in the opening. Oleksienko has a big rating, but that doesn't mean he can hit on the correct way of responding to his opponent's unusual set up. Here is Oleksienko - Stupak.

Hecht-Reefschlaeger 3.Nc3 Nc6

Why not give it a try?

There are already seven games with 3...Nc6 in the ChessPub archives. If there is a refutation, the players of White haven't found it yet! In fact, it isn't at all clear that this variation offers Black worse chances than the Guimard, as the pin on c3 with Bb4 often comes in handy.

In this month's game, Black plays an improvement at move 11 that frees his game. Can you see it in the diagram below?

Anyway here is Borriss - Firman.

Rubinstein 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6

Nakamura's latest weapon in the French

The variation 5.Nxf6+ Qxf6 isn't very interesting for Black, but Nakamura's 5...gxf6!? leads to a lively struggle:

You might like to compare the opening here with the Larsen Variation of the Caro-Kann, namely 1...c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ gxf6 In that case, Black can develop his queen's bishop with 6... Bf5; an option not available in the French line. Instead he has to bring the bishop out via b7. Can this be made to work? Check out the analysis to Ivanov - Nakamura.

Rubinstein 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7

An old Dutch masterpiece

Here I have chosen a fine attacking game by Jan Timman against another hero of my long vanished youth, Robert Huebner. And yes, it was played in November 2006! For a lesson in how to punish overly passive opening play, tune into Timman - Huebner.

Classical 4.Bg5 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 Bxf6

A very sharp draw, but was the attack sound?

The Russian Grandmaster Bareev is remarkably consistent in his choice of opening lines. This means that he gets the full benefit of learning from experience whilst also keeping the amount of theory he has to study to a minimum. The downside is that his opponents know exactly what to expect, and so he often has to face dangerous home brewed novelties. This explains why Bareev has suffered some quick defeats in the French when facing the best players in the world. On the other hand, if he makes it to move 20 with an intact position, he is virtually invincible!

In this month's game, Bruzon launches a highly speculative attack, which according to my analysis should fail. Or maybe I have missed something? Check out Bruzon - Bareev.

Winawer 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba5

A novelty on move 25

Some time ago, we looked at the game Lopez Martinez-Bartel which featured an intriguing positional exchange sacrifice. This game went 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba5 6.b4 cxd4 7.Qg4 Ne7 8.bxa5 dxc3 9.Qxg7 Rg8 10.Qxh7 Nbc6 11.Nf3 Qc7 12.Bf4 Bd7 13.a6 b6 14.Bg3 0-0-0 15.Bd3 Rh8 16.Qg7 Rdg8 17.Qf6 Be8 18.0-0 Rh5 19.Qf4 Nf5 20.Bxf5 Rxf5 21.Qe3 Rxf3 22.Qxf3 Nd4 23.Qd3 Qc5 24.a4 Rg4, reaching the following diagram position:

Does Black have enough for the exchange? How should White- or Black! go about trying to win it? For the latest ideas, click on Stellwagen - Bartel.

Winawer 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Nc6

An interesting way to avoid the Winawer Mainline

I'm somewhat surprised that we've never got around to looking at 6...Nc6 on before now:

It is an unusual move, but a very interesting one, and has featured in some games by world class players. I intend to examine it further next month, but for now here are two games with 7.Qg4, which is the most natural reply. In both cases the Uruguayan Grandmaster Andres Rodriguez was victorious as Black- I would certainly recommend you focus on his games if you want to do some private research on 6...Nc6 as he has played it many times.

Here are Vescovi - Rodriguez and Di Berardino-Rodriguez.

Winawer Mainline 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bd3 f5

You will need good nerves to play like this

Finally, we again check out the variation 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bd3 f5 9.exf6 Rxf6 10.Bg5 Rf7 11.Qh5 h6!?:

This can lead to an entertaining fight if White takes the bait with 12.Nf3 Nbc6 13.Bh7+ or 12.Bh7+ immediately, as here. On the other hand, unless you are a tough defender and willing to invent some theory of your own, you might do better to follow the crowd with 11...g6. It's your choice. Anyway, here is Smerdon - Wempe.

That's all for this month. I hope you had some fun. Good luck as usual with your chess- and seasonal greetings! Best Wishes, Neil

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