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Hi everyone,

Apologies for the long delay in getting this online- it's been a busy time of year. The emphasis this month is on games from the Olympiad- a fertile soil for creative ideas.

Download PGN of October '04 French games

Tarrasch 3...Be7

3...Be7 4.Bd3 c5 5.dxc5 Nf6 6.Qe2:

We'll begin on a cheerful note for Black. The mainline with 6...Nc6 has been much analysed, but the alternative 6...0-0 7.Ngf3 a5 shouldn't be underestimated. Black's idea is to answer 8.exd5 with 8...exd5, giving him a good version of an IQP position more usually reached after 3...c5. It all works out very nicely after White overpresses in Rozentalis - Vallejo Pons.

Tarrasch 3...Be7 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5

The Universal System Strikes Again

Long term subscribers will be aware I have dubbed White's plan of Ngf3 the 'Universal System' as he can play it against any of the big three Tarrasch Lines: 3...Be7, 3...Nf6 and 3...c5. So if it is good for White then Black has nowhere to hide! Black enemies here are numerous: Grischuk, Timofeev and Kasparov to name but three. In fact I can almost forgive Bareev and Morozevich if they avoid the French in the Russian Championships. For an example of what can happen if Black responds imprecisely, take a look at Smirin - Cheparinov.

Gurevich versus the Universal System

At the moment, the man leading the fight for Black against the Universal System is Mikail Gurevich. He has discovered a very interesting piece deployment in which he appears to be about to fianchetto his bishop on g7, but then it turns out to be a bluff. The only sad thing for Black is that this counter method isn't possible with the move order 3..Be7. Check out Pengxiang - Gurevich.

Winawer Mainline 5...Ba5

One and a half out of three for the Armenian System

The Armenian team at the Olympiad seem to co-operate very fruitfully with each other in finding new opening ideas. In the first example, the mighty Grischuk is forced to abandon his winning attempt with White after only 20 moves- and in fact he can count himself lucky Vaganian didn't press for the whole point. Here is Grischuk - Vaganian.

Incidentally, earlier in his career Vaganian was by no means regarded as a great opening analyst, but over the last couple of years he has been coming up with some astute ideas.

Vaganian's compatriot Lputian has less luck in the second game. He comes up with a challenging novelty that you would expect to upset his opponent, but Andrei Volokitin simply crushes it. I haven't seen many of Volokitin's games, but if he plays them all as well as this then Ukraine have a great new star on their hands. Enjoy Volokitin - Lputian.

Finally Vaganian redresses the balance by overwhelming his opponent in 25 moves. It is one of the torments and fascinations of chess that obvious moves can turn out to be terrible mistakes. Poor Kulaots makes the most natural move in the world, wins a lot of material as a consequence, and then has to resign. Chess is a hard game as you can see in Kulaots - Vaganian.

Winawer Mainline 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bd3 Qa5

The Rustemov System Under Pressure

A critical position is reached after 9.Bd2 Nbc6 10.Nf3 f5 11.exf6 Rxf6 12.Qh5 Nf5:

White has two important attacking ideas, depending on whether he attacks the black knight with g2-g4 immediately or on the next move. Black has suffered another catastrophe after 13.g4, but I believe that he should be OK if he follows the suggestions on ChessPub: for which see the analysis in Dominguez - Barsov.

The other try is 13.c4 Qa4 14.g4:

Black has to be very careful, as his most obvious response led to disaster in a game given here. However, as with the example above, I think he missed a decent chance- see Polzin - Giemsa. If this doesn't appeal to you, then you can try another hair raising approach in the game Stellwagen - Kim.

Well that's all for this month. I hope to get the November update up and running pretty soon.

Good luck with your chess!

Best Regards, Neil