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Just as I was completing the update I was saddened to hear of the death of IM Bob Wade at the grand old age of 87. You can read an obituary on the website. When I was young I used to go to Bob's house, be well fed and read books from his huge chess library. He was extremely generous with his time and knowledge: despite chess being his profession, he was willing to help players even when there was little or no financial reward.

Right until the end Bob was a very strong player- the season before last I watched him beat an IM in a club match with a clever exchange sac. Here is one of his best games in which he crushes French legend Uhlmann. The game was in the Tarrasch 3...Nf6: f2-f4 Variation: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ndf3 cxd4 8.cxd4 h5:

It's fair to say that in this game Bob did a lot to put the plan of blocking the kingside with 8...h5 out of business. Here then is Wade - Uhlmann.

Franck Steenbekkers has asked me what variations I give in my new book on the French. It's a repertoire book for Black, with the all purpose Fort Knox for players who don't want to learn too much theory, and the McCutcheon/ Classical and Tarrasch 3...Be7 for those who want a more fighting [and theoretical] game.

Well that's the advertisement over and let's look at some chess. The focus this month is on games from the Olympiad, with some big name clashes in our favourite opening.

Download PGN of November '08 French games

Advance 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.a3

A forced loss for White?

It's well known that 6.a3 is less effective against 5..Bd7 than 5...Qb6, as in the latter case Black doesn't have the plan of 6...c4 and then ...Bc6, ...Qd7 and ...Ba4 available to him. That may be so, but in two games from the Olympiad Buhmann and Short even make it look like a forced loss for White. Here are the games in Hussein - Buhmann.

Tarrasch 3...Be7 4.Ngf3

An antidote to the Universal System

Next up is 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Be7 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nfd7 6.Bd3 c5 7.c3 b6:

This is a very solid way for Black to meet the Universal System. Instead of trying to grab a pawn, he aims to exchange off his 'bad' light squared bishop for White's star piece on d3. I recommend this variation for Black in my forthcoming book so it is nice to see it being played at the highest level.

Caruana managed to hold the balance against Adams's relentless positional play, and then seized his chance to gain the initiative when White faltered in the later middegame. The result was a great scalp for the French Defence. Here is the clash of titans Adams - Caruana.

Tarrasch 3...Be7 4.Bd3

The dangers of trying too hard to win

First of all, thanks to Julian Chan: I'll have a look at the Cawdery- Shulman Olympiad for the next update. For the moment, you might like to check out the game Asrian-Prasca in the archives.

In another Olympiad game, after 20 moves of a French game the following position was reached:

Black is being absolutely annihilated- and he is no less than Morozevich, rated 2787 and number two in the World! We had better examine carefully how this happened in Efimenko - Morozevich.

Rubinstein 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7

Quick wins for White- and Black

In our first game we examine 5.Nf3 Be7 6.Bd3 Ngf6 in which Black hopes to profit from delaying ...Nf6 for a move. It certainly turned out well for him in this game as he wins in 13 moves! En passant we take a look at what I believe is the most successful trap of all time, judging from the number of victims. Here is Charbonneau - Hussein.

The second game features the Rubinstein mainline 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.Bd3 c5 8.dxc5 Bxc5 9.Qe2. We've seen Caruana win as Black against Adams, and now he scores a brilliant attacking victory as White after his opponent slips up in Caruana - Berg.

Hecht-Reefschlaeger 3.Nc3 Nc6

I have no qualms playing 3...Nc6 against anyone, not even my 2700 opponent in this game!

So says IM Goh Wei Ming who has been kind enough to send us some more of his games. Two feature this month: you can see Goh's game with the aforementioned Super GM in Wang Hao-Goh Wei Ming.

The other game sees a novelty by White that leads to a wild finish in Legaspi - Goh Wei Ming. Nothing I've seen so far has shown me why 3...Nc6 should be condemned as an inferior move.

McCutcheon 4.Bg5 Bb4 5.e5

An unwelcome omission

The change in the rules that reduced the size of Olympiad squads from 6 to 5 prevented a lot of fine players from competing in Dresden. One such unlucky player was Vaganian- though in view of the fine form of the top four Armenia players it is unlikely he would have got more than a game or two. Here we see him using his beloved French to win a short and sweet game in Swinkels - Vaganian.

Winawer 5.Bd2

A French Expert Speaks out- Part Two

John Watson has kindly sent me an email about his book review at and the comments in the September 2008 update on the Winawer 5.Bd2.

«Filippo Nicolo makes a very useful and generous contribution with an impressive amount of material. Regarding my review of the Perelshteyn/Dzindzichashvili book, he comments that 'In one word Watson described the book with the adjective "Disastrous": but I do not think all the ideas (analysis) contained into the book deserved ... that judgment and this line could be exactly the case.'

I have never said that all the analysis in the book is bad (although quite a bit of it is). My main objection is that in opening after opening and variation after variation, the authors (who are presenting a repertoire for White) ignore the best defences for Black, even if the best lines are well known, or even if they're obviously aware of the problem. This review is, by the way, in my column #72 in The Week in Chess (see the archived interviews). Some of my examples are in the French Defence, where in this variation with 5 Bd2, I find 3 major omissions, one from a game played by one of the authors! All of them distinctly improve upon the lines they present; the one Nicolo cites is clearly included because it is one of the few lines that favours White and because the authors want to show off their nice move 18 Kh1. Filipo's game 'yellowlab-peramor' is evidence in favour of one of my suggestions, and I could have mentioned other good solutions in this variation (and in their French coverage in general). As it was, I used up masses of space to cover a gamut of difficulties in various openings. As I demonstrate, in other openings as well, the authors intentionally didn't mention the established main lines of the variations they were promoting, precisely because they at least solved all of Black's problems and in a few cases showed White's line to be simply weak.

I don't mind bad or overenthusiastic analysis - those are inevitable if you're doing original work - but I do mind dishonesty in chess books.»

Winawer 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7

Our monthly dose of poisoned pawn

The following variation has received the most attention at top level recently: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 cxd4 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 Qc7 10.Ne2 Nbc6 11.f4 dxc3 12.Qd3 Bd7 13.Nxc3 a6 14.h4 Nf5 15.Rh3 0-0-0 16.Rb1 Na5 17.Rb4 Nc4 18.h5 and here rather than Grischuk's 18...Bc6, Vitiugov has tried 18...Qc5!?

I wouldn't recommend this move against a well prepared opponent. But then Black gets a draw via a great position versus a 2715 player in this game, which shows the value of a surprise move. Here is Alekseev - Vitiugov.

Well that's all for now. I hope you enjoyed the update. Good luck with your chess and see you here again next time.

All the best, Neil

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