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Welcome to the September 2002 Update.




All this month's new games, and the Roadmaps, are easily downloaded in PGN format using ChessPub.exe, but to download the September '02 French games directly in PGN form, click here: Download Games

Classical 4.e5: ...Qb6 and delayed ...Nc6 [C11]

From the point of view of theory I don't always trust rapid play games, even between World Class players. A player may decide not to reveal a secret weapon in the hope that he can use it on a bigger occasion, such as Linares or Wijk aan Zee or even in a World Championship match!

But when Kasparov played Radjabov in the Russia v. Rest of the World Match you can bet that neither player was holding anything back as far as theory goes. Kasparov and Russia desperately needed the points, while for the young Azerbajani any meeting with the World No 1 was sure to put him on his mettle.

In any case, Radjabov got his novelty in first and gained a winning position after Kasparov tried too hard to prove he still had the advantage.

You can find this exciting encounter and two other complete games in Kasparov-Radjabov.

Classical 4.e5: Black plays ...a7-a6 and ...b7-b5 [C11]

Any time that Mikhail Gurevich loses a game in the French I sit up and take notice. His opponent, GM Nijboer, has worked out an excellent battle plan versus what I have deemed one of the most solid lines in the Classical. Gurevich had beaten Nijboer in this line in an earlier game so it was sweet revenge. Have a look at Nijboer-Gurevich.

Classical: 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.Bxe7 Qxe7 7.f4 0-0 [C14]

When Black castles early in this variation he has to reckon with the sacrifice Bd3xh7+ followed by Ng5 in a variety of forms. In fact the hardest part of writing Mastering the French with Andrew Harley was deciding which Greek Gift sacrifices worked and which didn't. The general conclusion was that as long as Black had played Bd7, connecting his rooks, he had at least equal chances.

The latest example doesn't support this opinion as Black is wiped out in 28 moves. I've tried to find a decent improvement- you can see the analysis in Resika-Hanley.

Classical 4.Bg5 dxe4 [C11]

It is no wonder that Topalov is ranked fifth or so in the World when he has the flair to demolish the toughest opposition in direct attacking style. In this month's game from the World Championship qualifier he takes apart Bareev in a style of which Kasparov would have been proud. Enjoy Topalov-Bareev.




Tarrasch Variation 3...Nf6: Mainline 5.Bd3 [C06]

We have already seen some astonishing games by Volkov, the former Russian Champion, in the Advance. This month we see some Volkov magic in the Tarrasch! He is truly the master of brinkmanship. His style reminds me of the young Vaganian, who also took enormous risks in the French but almost always seemed to come out on top. Have a look at Potkin-Volkov.

The Tarrasch 3...Nf6 Mainline 5.Bd3 with Qb6 [C06]

Subscriber Franck Steenbekkers has sent me an email with some very instructive questions on the Winawer and Tarrasch which are based mainly on games played in Dutch tournaments.

His first question is:

«What do you think about the move 14 Nc3 ! from Tiviakov in the Tarrasch variation? The problem for black is that I don't see counterplay at all for black. Do you see a solution for the black position??»

The move referred to is 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4 8.cxd4 Qb6 9.Nf3 f6 10.exf6 Nxf6 11.0-0 Bd6 12.b3 0-0 13.Bb2 Bd7 14.Nc3 reaching the following position:

One idea behind this move is to exploit the position of the black queen to get control of c5 with a combination of Rc1, Na4 and Nc5. This plan would be particularly effective if Black responded with Bf4- the recommended recipe for dealing with Ng3- as then Na4 and Nc5 follows straightaway.

It is important to find a good antidote for Black as this line with 12.b3 has become the main way for White to take on the 'Watson Tarrasch' with 8...Qb6. Looking at games on the database I think I may have found it! Check out the game Martinovic-Dittmar.

Tarrasch: 3...Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.f4: Black plays f7-f5 [C05]

Franck Steenbekkers also has the following query in the 3...Nf6 Tarrasch:

«The problem in this Tarrasch variation with f4 for white is that this variation looks very dangerous for black. Do you see a solution for the black problem?»

He refers to a game won by the Dutch GM Van der Wiel recently which went 6...cxd4 7.cxd4 Nc6 8.Ndf3 f5 9.Nh3.

When someone comes up with a new and frightening idea against one of your opening systems- or wins against it in crushing style and you aren't quite sure why- the first thing to do is check up what it gives on ChessPub. In this case after going into ChessPub you can type in the reference C05 in the 'fetch box' at the top left hand side of your screen. [Normally if I want to know the ECO code for a variation, say the Advance 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5, I type these moves as a new game on ChessBase, go to save it, and the box already says C02. I guess there are other methods but that's what I do] After waiting a while for the games to appear on ChessPub, you can scroll down the list until you get to the Tarrasch f2-f4 ebook [on screen this looks like 'Tarrasch: 3...Nf6: f2' as the 'f2-f4' doesn't quite fit in] You can click on this 'game', play through it and in the note to move nine you will find the reference you want: 9.Nh3. It refers you to the game Cobb-McDonald. Now when you go to Cobb-McDonald you will find a reference to Werle-Van der Wiel, in which Black defended successfully. So you have succeeded in tracking down the Dutch GM's previous game in this line!

Van der Wiel is a world class opening analyst and by comparing his old game with the new you will see that he has come up with a way to speed up his kingside attack. The question then arises, can Black hold the balance by saving a tempo of his own? Once the problem can be stated in a clear way it isn't too hard to come up with a solution.

Have a look at Van der Wiel-Ryan.




Winawer 7.Qg4 [C18]

After 7.Qg4 Qc7 in the mainline White can duck the poison pawn variation with 8.Bd3!? This was all the rage about ten years ago- I guess players liked the fact that you can play this move against both 7...Qc7 or 7...0-0.

I've always thought it curious that Winawer expert GM Farago is happy to plunge into the mainline after 7...Qc7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 etc. and handles the dynamic positions with great skill, whereas after 8.Bd3 he avoids the sharp line 8...cxd4 9.Ne2 dxc3 etc. in favour of the solid 8...c4.

I was put off this blocking method by an idea that Sutovsky has introduced as White, but having analysed the excellent win by Farago given this month I feel inspired enough to suggest what may be a simple answer.

Have a look at Langheinrich-Farago.

Winawer 5...Ba5 [C17]

Franck Steenbekkers also asks: «What is your opinion about the move 11 f5 of IGM Golubev??»

This move, buried in the notes of an Informator game, looks frighteningly strong- in fact it may cast doubt on the whole system of defence with 9...Bxb5. Have a look at the analysis to the game Golubev-Gussjatinskij.

Finally, Franck has sent a very interesting game he had with Joe Gallagher in the Anglo-Swiss player's pet line against the French. He writes:

«I think in the game Gallagher-Steenbekkers that black is OK after 23 -a4 what do you think? (I think White is forced to held a draw.) this game is published in New in Chess magazine 3 of 2002 with some notes by IGM Gallagher.»

You can find the game Gallagher-Steenbekkers on ChessPub.

I agree with Franck's assessments and have left in his notes unchanged- in Dutch! Chess is a universal language so it possible to understand the variations he gives and the general assessment of the line, even if [like me] you don't know a word of the language.

Well that's all for now. My thanks to Franck for adding so much to the Update with his informed queries and analysis.

Thanks also to everyone who subscribes to the site. I still have a couple of other emails to answer so if you have written to me I can only ask you to be patient until next time.

Have fun with your chess!

Best Regards,