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Welcome to this month's update. I hope your chess is going well. This month I've analysed some games and variations specifically asked for by a subscriber. If there is any game or idea you would like to see discussed, drop me a line.

Download PGN of November '07 French games

Advance: various lines

Suggestions from subscribers

First of all Tarek Riabi has pointed out a possible improvement on a game given in the July Update. The diagram position was reached in Volokitin-Volkov after the moves 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Qb6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.Nxd4 Bc5 8.Qg4 Ne7 9.Qxg7 Rg8 10.Qf6 Rxg2 11.Bxh7 Bxd4 12.cxd4 Qxd4 13.Nc3 Qg4 14.h4 Qh5 15.Kf1:

Black played 15...Rxf2+ and went downhill quickly, but check out move 15 options in Volokitin - Volkov Version 2. My thanks to Tarek for the feedback.

Also with regard to the Advance Variation I received an email full of interesting ideas from Phil Adams.

Phil suggests that I look at three games. I'll start with King-Buckley which began 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.Be2 Nge7 7.0-0 and now 7...Rc8:

The early rook move to c8 is indeed tricky- White can easily be bamboozled into an inferior variation. Danny King is a strong and well prepared Grandmaster but he never gets going. I'm pleased to be able to offer a fine win by my Wood Green team mate Graeme Buckley in King - Buckley.

Next up is 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.Be2 Nge7 7.Na3 cxd4 8.cxd4 Qb6 9.0-0 and now 9...Nb4!? anticipates the centralising Nc2:

White wins a beautiful strategical/ tactical game in Shirov - Roiz.

Finally, we look at 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.a3 Nh6 7.b4 cxd4 8.cxd4 Nf5 9.Bb2 Bd7.

Perhaps I'm missing a trick, but I don't see why 2600 Elo players Najer and Shabalov have been playing this move 10.h4 here. My scepticism has been justified by Black's fine counter attacking win in Shabalov - Kraai.

Tarrasch: 3.Nd2 c5

A valuable addition to Black's armoury

The variation 4.Ngf3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Bb5 Bd7 7.Nxc6 Bxc6 8.Bxc6+ bxc6 9.c4 has been something of a nuisance for Black:

However, this month I can offer a highly intriguing response. White can easily end up in a strategically lost position in a matter of moves! Check out Giaccio - Pogorelov.

Rubinstein: 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7

Pelletier improves on his game with Anand

In the previous update the leading player from Switzerland got into trouble against the leading player in the World in the variation beginning 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.c3. I'm still not altogether convinced about Black's play, but see what you think in Palac - Pelletier.

Fort Knox: 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7

If White's knight goes to g5, watch out!

Most of the time you can play the opening moves of the Fort Knox half asleep and nothing terrible will happen to you [unfortunately for those who love it as Black this is equally true for players of White]. However, the lines in which White plays a quick Neg5 have to be handled with great care. One casual move and a deadly sacrifice might strike you down on e6 or f7. Here is a refresher exercise for Black in Larino Nieto-Mirzoev.

Winawer 6...Qa5

Two titanic positional battles

Phil Adams also suggests that 6...Qa5 deserves more coverage:

This is a popular way for Black to avoid mainline theory, though that doesn't mean that it hasn't been heavily analysed. After 7.Bd2 Qa4 first of all we look at 8.Rb1 and the related 8.Nf3 Nc6 9.Rb1. In the main game we see World Number Two Ivanchuk in action.

I find it rather amusing that there are no pawn moves or captures between move 14.h5 and 37...fxe5- the last move being Black's fatal blunder. If you like manoeuvring chess, followed by neat tactical play, then Ivanchuk - Socko is clearly for you!

Finally we examine the replies 8.h4 and 8.Qg4. The fact that very experienced Francophile GM Vaganian makes a serious strategic mistake shows the difficulty of this opening line. Here is Gashimov - Vaganian..

That's all for now. My thanks to Tarek for his analysis and Phil for his suggestions [I'll try to answer the others sometime soon].

Good luck to everyone and see you next time! Best Wishes, Neil

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