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Welcome to the October update. I think that for the first time ever there isn't a single tournament game featured- all the games were played in team events of various kinds. Not that this means a lower level of play- on the contrary, we will see Anand, Svidler and Adams all attacking the French!

Download PGN of October '07 French games

Advance: Na3 versus Nge7

A variation fit for the scrap heap?

After 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.Be2 Nge7 7.0-0 Black has enjoyed good success in the ChessPub archives with 7...Ng6. It would be nice if the same approach could be made to work after 7.Na3- namely 7...cxd4 8.cxd4 Ng6:

However, there is a vital difference as White can avoid castling and try for a quick wipe out with 9.h4. It looks grim for Black judging from the game Baklan - Gleizerov.

Tarrasch 3...Nf6: Ngf3 lines

A quiet but effective bishop retreat

A critical line of the so-called Universal System runs 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ngf3 g6 8.h4 h6:

It was used successfully as Black by Swedish GM Emanuel Berg against Perunovic- you can find that game in the archives. Now Michael Adams has come armed for his encounter with Berg in the European Team Championship with an insidious new idea.

Although Adams is to be praised for analysing and testing the quiet but effective new move 9.Bc2, perhaps it should be pointed out that the sly bishop retreat is the first suggestion of the Fritz computer program?!

For a beautiful example of Adams' unique style click on Adams - Berg. How can anything so difficult be made to look so easy?

Tarrasch 3...Nf6/5.Bd3- Mainline with Qc7.

Black's aggressive kingside pawns

Berg bounces back from his defeat in the game above by outwitting the top Greek Grandmaster. After 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4 8.cxd4 f6 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.Nf3 Qc7 11.0-0 Bd6 12.Bg5 0-0 Kotronias tried 13.Rc1:

The idea is to set Black fresh problems by avoiding the main theoretical battle after 13.Bh4 Nh5 14.Qc2. However, Berg manages to build up a kingside initiative with 13...h6 in Kotronias - Berg.

Tarrasch: 3...c5 4.exd5 Qxd5

The power of centralisation

Next we examine 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Ngf3 cxd4 6.Bc4 Qd6 7.Qe2. In the selected game it soon becomes clear that after castling queenside, White intends to throw his pieces and pawns at the black kingside. In classical style his premature wing attack is refuted by a counterattack in the centre. Here is the highly instructive Lie - Avrukh.

Rubinstein: 3...dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7

Three examples of a popular variation

Under the spotlight is 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.c3:

First of all we should look at 7...Be7, a slightly passive move. It encourages White to build up a direct kingside attack which puts the black king in peril; on the other hand, if White loses control, then the black counterattack can be lethal, which is exactly what happens in Vachier Lagrave-Tratar.

The more popular move is 7...c5 when we focus on 8.Be3 cxd4 9.Bxd4:

White has achieved some good results here. For example 9...Bd6 10.Ne5!? saw White triumph with a vigorous attack in Vandevoort - Dambacher.

Meanwhile newly crowned World Champion Anand has answered 9...Qc7 with 10.Bb5+!? Incidentally, the strength of this bishop check shows why concrete knowledge of opening theory is necessary: relying on 'natural moves' isn't enough. For what can be 'natural' about playing 10.Bb5+ Bd7 11.Bxd7+, which allows Black to exchange off his 'problem' bishop on c8 with gain of time? All we can say is that the plan works for White- it didn't have to, it simply does!; and Anand grinds out a win in the endgame in Anand - Pelletier.

Winawer: 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7

Svidler's unusual rook move

On the way to leading Russia to victory at the European Team Championship, Peter Svidler tried a little known idea against Berg: namely after 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 Bd7 12.Qd3 dxc3 he essayed 13.Rg1:

I daresay this rook move will start to attract attention as a World class player uses it to beat a leading French expert. Furthermore, White has scored 3.5/4 in the four games I have seen with the early rook move to g1. But is it any good? Ah, take a look at Svidler - Berg.

Well that's all for now. I hope you enjoyed the games and analysis and maybe picked up one or two useful ideas.

Good luck and best Wishes, Neil

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