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I hope you enjoyed watching the Anand-Kramnik match. But although they didn't provide us with any French Defence action, here is another dose from

Download PGN of October '08 French games

The Winawer Exchange

An introduction for White

First of all, we should finish looking at 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.exd5 exd5 5.Bd3. The first two parts of this survey are in the September update.

Part Three: Black plays ...Nge7

The position under discussion is 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.exd5 exd5 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Nge7 8.Qf3:

White puts the queen on f3 straightaway in order to prevent Black offering an exchange of bishops with ...Bf5. In contrast to variations with ...Nf6, White doesn't have to fear the queen being attacked with ...Bg4, or at least not immediately. But if Black arranges ...Be6 and ...Qd7, then the precaution h2-h3 might well become necessary.

Our first example shows the power of a direct attack on the black king. Whilst Black is flailing around trying to find queenside counterplay, the white pieces move almost effortlessly into good positions. Here is Sandu - Foisor..

In our second example, we get a more positional approach from White. It shows that even if Black resists the kingside attack he can fall into trouble as White's dark squared bishop often helps him win the battle for control of the e-file. A potential World Champion uses pawn advances on both wings and in the centre to wear down his opponent in Radjabov - Lehtivaara.

Finally, I've included a game by a young player I coached at a recent tournament. It shows you don't have to be as experienced as Radjabov to play the Winawer Exchange at a high level. Also in the analysis you'll see what to do if Black castles queenside. Check out Wang - Soyunlu.

Advance 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6

The good 'bad' bishop

A common variation runs 6.Be2 cxd4 7.cxd4 Nh6 8.Nc3 Nf5 9.Na4 Qa5+ 10.Bd2 Bb4 11.Bc3 b5 12.a3 Bxc3+ 13.Nxc3 b4 14.axb4 Qxb4 15.Bb5 Bd7 16.Bxc6 Bxc6 17.Qd2:

Up until this point the game has followed Nunn-Schmittdiel, as given in the archives, where 17...Bb5 was played: a move I describe there approvingly as 'getting rid of Black's bad bishop'. However, I have unfairly maligned the bishop- as we shall see, it can prove a potent piece in the queenside battle. Here is some further analysis of the variation, built around the alternative move 17...0-0 in Shirov - Ivanchuk.

Tarrasch 3...Nf6/5.Bd3: mainline with ...Qc7

Learning from earlier misfortunes

At the highest levels of chess, you need to be armed before a game with improvements in the critical variations of your opening repertoire- and pray that your novelty appears on the board before that of the opponent! Last year the Swedish GM Emanuel Berg had been the victim of an opening surprise in the Tarrasch Defence and had been lucky to escape with a draw- in fact I should rephrase that: it was astonishing he didn't lose! You can see how he learnt from his earlier misfortune by clicking on Vachier Lagrave-Berg.

Hecht-Reefschlaeger 3.Nc3 Nc6

Pinning a knight with Bb5 isn't always a good idea

Here we extend our coverage by looking at the variation 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.Bb5:

It feels as if putting the bishop on b5 should be good for White, but that's probably because we have seen too many Ruy Lopez games! In any case Black is soon pressing for the win in Rudolf - Hertneck.

Classical 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5

A popular and effective variation under attack

After 4...Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 the seemingly modest [but actually highly ambitious] move 7...Be7!? has been very popular of late, thanks to Black scoring some high profile victories. But now White is beginning to fight back. In the Russian Championship Svidler faced one of the leading exponents of Black's system. The game continued 8.Qd2 0-0 9.dxc5 Bxc5 10.0-0-0 Qa5 11.Bxc5 Nxc5 and now Svidler played the direct attacking move 12.h4!?:

This isn't a novelty, but on the whole White has felt the need for the consolidating move 12.Kb1 before starting his kingside action. As with the Kruppa game above, we might say that the support of computer analysis enables White to play in what seems an almost ridiculously risky fashion- his king comes under a huge attack, but there is no killer blow, despite appearances. So is this the end for Black's opening line? Not at all, as you can see in the analysis to Svidler - Riazantsev.

Also with regard to the 7...Be7 variation, you can find a possible correction to earlier analysis as well as a speculative idea in Baramidze - Berczes.

Winawer 7.Qg4 0-0

The Rustemov revisited

It's been quite a while since we last looked at the variation 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bd3 Qa5!?:

In this month's game, Seifert [rated 2360] holds the draw as Black against Areshchenko [rated 2664]- and in the final position the underdog is even close to a win. So the opening seems alive and well. You may notice that I've changed my verdict on a couple of tactically tricky Rustemov lines that I analysed in 1999 and 2001. That means either my brain has grown bigger or the computer programs I've been using have become stronger in the last eight or so years... unfortunately I can guess which is more likely. Anyhow here is Areshchenko - Seifert.

Well, that's the end of the update. Happy hunting with your chess!

All the best, Neil

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