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Welcome to this month's update.
Despite the overload of theory, chess remains a wonderful and dynamic game, as demonstrated by the recent Topalov-Kramnik match. I think the games you will find in this update also reflect the excitement of modern chess

Download PGN of October '06 French games

King's Indian Attack: 2.Qe2

A fine positional game and a brilliant attack

It's been some time since we last looked at what might be described as a flank opening response to the French. This month I want to examine 2...d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Nc3 Qd8:

Black has lost time with his queen, but on the other hand White has been deprived of his pawn spearhead on e4 and the knight on c3 is getting in the way of the space gaining c2-c4 move.

First up is a highly instructive game in which White is punished for his planless play. Even if you never play this variation you will learn a lot by looking at Sergeev - Vysochin.

Next is a fantastic attacking game by White in which GM Vysochin, the hero of our first game, is completely wiped out. It's worth asking yourself, would you have found it easier to discover the strong positional moves in the first game, or the tactical moves in the second game? You might get an insight into your style of play. Alternatively, you can just sit back and enjoy the truly wonderful Vovk - Vysochin.

Tarrasch 3...Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4

A promising line for Black

Here we shall take another look at 5...c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ndf3 cxd4 8.cxd4 f5:

I really like this variation for Black. He gets a solid centre and counterplay on the queenside. White's only good plan is to advance his kingside pawns and try to mate the black king, which at first glance looks quite promising. However, in practice White often loses control of the position, and then it is his own king that ends up in the most danger.

That is precisely what happens in Howell - Wang Hao.

Classical McCutcheon: Mainline 7.bxc3 Ne4 8.Qg4 Kf8

Another gritty win by Volkov

The former Russian Champion Sergei Volkov sometimes suffers the most dreadful defeats in the French. Nonetheless, he always comes back to the board in a fighting mood and armed with a new idea. That unshakeable confidence makes him a threat to anyone in the world, as he proves in Akopian - Volkov.

Classical 4.Bg5 Be7

Big trouble for the Alekhine-Chatard Attack?

In the August update, we examined the variation 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4 0-0. It leads almost by force to a huge tactical battle after 7.Bd3 c5 8.Qh5. Here again from that update is the game Pelletier - Zueger:

Now there has been another game in this intriguing variation. Black holds the draw, but was he really OK? If so, this is quite a blow for fans of the Alekhine-Chatard Attack, as Black can learn a long tactical sequence and then no longer have to worry about facing long term positional pressure. Check out the analysis in Degraeve - Braun.

Winawer 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qa5

The Kasparov Gambit revisited

The theme here is 7.Bd2 Qa4 8.h4!?:

It would be great for players of White if the popular and rather irritating sideline 6...Qa5 can be met effectively in this fashion. The idea is to direct play into the mainline of the Kasparov Gambit which spoils Black's plan of dodging theory. White comes a cropper thanks to a bizarre oversight in the illustrative game, but there is a lot of food for thought in the analysis to Volokitin - Zhang Pengxiang.

Winawer Mainline 7.Qg4 0-0

Are the Rustemov System and 8...Nbc6 both busted?

I recall my perennial correspondent Franck Steenbekkers telling me some time ago that 8.Bd3 Nbc6 9.Bg5 was dangerous for Black. At the time I wasn't too worried- until, that is, French expert Vaganian was blown away in 19 moves:

The move 9.Bg5 is part of a very direct plan which aims to mate the black king. If necessary, White is prepared to sacrifice the whole of his centre pawn chain from c3 to e5 to gain time for his onslaught. The idea of Bg5 isn't just a problem after 8...Nbc6, but can equally be played in the Rustemov move order after 8...Qa5 9.Ne2 Nbc6 10.Bg5.

I hope 9.Bg5 isn't a 'knockout blow'. In fact, I'm sure even as I write the friends of the French are preparing a counterattack. But to get a grasp of the problems Black faces, take a look at the games Bologan - Vaganian, Petrosian - Mrktchian and Dominguez - Yusupov.

That's all for this month. I hope you enjoyed the games and as usual-good luck! Best Wishes, Neil

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