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The highlight this month is an attempt to get 3.Nc3 Nc6!? to work. But for those who prefer long variations, there is also a lot of 'normal' theory- in one case an improvement at move 30!

Besides the replies given here, there are about half a dozen emails from subscribers which I intend to answer next month.

Download PGN of October '05 French games

The Two Knights

Feedback on the Two Knights

My thanks to Jose Blades for sending a couple of very interesting emails about the line given in the game Socko-Bielczyk in the September update. Shivkumar Shivaji, who played in a critical game against GM Shulman, was also kind enough to send an email pointing out what he thinks was White's best move. I've incorporated their ideas and added my own responses- which are of course open to debate-in the game Shivaji - Shulman.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5

An oversight and a convincing win in the Advance Variation

«Hi Neil
I have just rejoined the Chess Publishing site.
I have been playing the French defense for some years now, and against the advanced var I usually play 5...Bd7 which over the years has proved very reliable.
But I would like your comments to a game I played on the internet some time ago, the game follows both your and John Watson's recommended line to move 18 when I get hit by a sac on h6. After analysis I am of the opinion that Black's game is lost after 18.Bxh6 and I have had to change my lines against the advanced variation.
Any ideas greatly appreciated
Regards Jim Hawksley»

Thanks for the analysis Jim. Well, sorry about that- you are meant to win games when you follow analysis on ChessPub, not lose them! Here is the critical position:

Anyway, I've corrected the analysis and added one or two thoughts to create Movsesian - NikolicVersion 2.

I hope there isn't ever any reason for a version 3, unless it shows that Black was winning after all. To cheer Black up, here is a convincing win in a critical variation: Collins - Filippov.

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 Qxd5

Black is looking more than OK!

Grandmaster Bogdan Lalic has kindly supplied analysis to his exciting encounter with a player now rated over 2700. You will also find some key recent games in Tiviakov - Lalic.

In the second game, Black seems to have found a good antidote to one of White's most popular side-lines-

Check out Nijboer - Ernst.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nc6

Is the Rozentalis playable?

Actually, I just invented this name for 3.Nc3 Nc6. Rozentalis has played 3...Nc6 many times, and has some top level scalps with it. It also strikes me as a pleasing poetical- sounding name. If anyone knows if 3...Nc6 already has a name, email me and let me know. Otherwise it will be the Rozentalis.

I must admit I got the ideas of looking at this line from a thread in the French Forum. Also, since the Guimard has been a great success, I'm curious to know if 3.Nc3 Nc6 can be made to work just as well- or even better.

The opening has quite a pedigree, having been used by Nimzowitsch [why doesn't that surprise me?], by Korchnoi against Tal and even by Petrosian against Fischer in game 9 of their famous candidates Final match in 1971.

You might regard it as a given fact that the Rozentalis is an inferior version of the Guimard: after all, the white knight is better placed on c3 than on d2, and White's dark squared bishop is unobstructed. But hold on a minute: would you ever use such an argument to prove that the Tarrasch is inferior for White than the Winawer?

Let's not forget that after 3.Nc3 Nc6, Black has in reserve the 'Winawer' resource Bb4, pinning the knight, and perhaps even doubling White's pawns with Bxc3. More specifically, anyone who has studied the Guimard will be aware of White's plan of Bb5, Bxc6 and c2-c4: a weakness is created on c6 and then the way is cleared to attack it with Qa4, etc. This plan is of course impossible with the white knight sitting on c3 where it blocks the c2 pawn. In fact, in the Guimard, when Black has a weak pawn on c6, the thing he fears most of all is the knight manoeuvre Nb3 and Na5 and Nxc6. White has no such luck with the knight on c3.

Therefore, on the whole, the move Bb5 is less effective for White in the Rozentalis than in the Guimard. Practically speaking, it's nice to know that a lot of players of White, when surprised by 3.Nc3 Nc6, are likely to play in 'Guimard mode' and so fail to find the strongest plans.

Just as White has more scope for immediate dynamic action in the Winawer than in the Tarrasch, so too he has more chances of gaining a rapid, overpowering initiative in the Rozentalis than in the Guimard. White has attacking moves like Bg5 and Qg4 at his disposal; and Black's freeing f7-f6 idea has to be checked all the more carefully, as White might be able to exploit the opening of lines.

It's time to build a basic repertoire for Black. To get you started, here is a nice game with 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bg5 featuring a queen sacrifice: Spoelman - Stellwagen. Next we look at 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e5:

Here the results of the opening have been inspiring for Black, as you can see in Ibragimov - Peric. The third game considers 4.Bb5, which quickly leads to trouble for White in Erdelyi - Werner. Finally, Rozentalis himself has to face 4.e5. His opponent is the strong young Indian Negi, who gets a great position, but then falls apart and loses in 25 moves in Negi - Rozentalis. So 3 out of 4 for Black- not bad! Are you willing to give it a try?

Winawer: 7.Qg4 Qc7

Black is alive and well in murky waters

Subscriber Michael Roza sent me the full scores of a couple of correspondence games that featured the line 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 Nbc6 11.f4 Bd7 12.Qd3 dxc3 13.h4:

His conclusion was:

Well, on the surface 13.h4, seems survivable for Black, at least for those of us in the lower echelon. I guess being a bottom feeder has its advantages. :)

I commented on the line a couple of updates ago, but with a couple of additional comments here is Korneev - Kveinys, version 2

Winawer: 7.Qg4 0-0

An improvement for White on move 30

Bernhard Sporrer has sent me an email with suggested improvements for White on moves 28 and 30!

«Dear Neil,
thank you for answering my question on the Bacrot-Vaisser game. But there is a point in your analysis, which I don't understand.
After 22.O-O-O Qe7 23.Rdg1 Rf5 24.Nf3! Qxa3+ 25.Kd2 b4 (this seems to be the critical position) 26.Rxg6+ Kf7 (26... Kf8!?) 27.Ng5+ Ke7 you only gave 28.Qxh5, but 28.Rg7+ Kd8 29.Qxh5 with the threat of 30. Nxe6+ seems close to winning to me.
I also would be interested in your opinion about the recent encounter
Philippe - Apicella , which went 25...Be8 26.Nh4 b4 27.Nxf5 Qxc3+ 28.Kd1 Qa1+ 29.Bc1 exf5 and now instead of 30. Qxh5 White can go for the full point with 30.Rh4 protecting the d4-pawn.
After all your assessment of 22.0-0-0 as a D.O.I. could be true.
Yours, Bernhard Sporrer»

Some of the variations here are truly amazing. I have looked at both of Bernhard's suggestions in Analysis of Complex Winawer 7.Qg4 0-0 line.

Ok, it's time to say goodbye for now. Good luck with your chess!

Best Regards, Neil