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Sorry about the long delay in getting this update to you. I plan to catch up soon with the October update. Meanwhile I hope you all enjoyed the World Championship in Argentina: a truly memorable tournament.

Download PGN of September '05 French games

The Two Knights

An interesting pawn sacrifice.

It seems that even the lines of the French that were regarded as peaceful and non-theoretical ten years ago are acquiring a sharp tactical edge. I guess it's partly because computer programs are giving players the chance to investigate variations very deeply and relatively quickly. In the past, no one would 'waste' time trying to find ways to sacrifice against the Two Knights- or the Exchange Variation for that matter- when far more critical lines in the Tarrasch and Winawer were still waiting to be investigated.

These days, databases and computers have changed everything. As I've often remarked before, I'm in two minds about this. Does theory add or subtract overall to the creativity of a chess game? The obvious answer is that it destroys original thought, but I doubt that Topalov would be able to win so many beautiful games if he were obliged to play FischerRandom. Shuffling the pieces at the start of the game cuts out theory, but it also seems to cut out dynamic, far sighted plans, as a player doesn't feel competent or confident enough to make a long term pawn sacrifice. The battles that arise in the theory soaked Winawer Poison Pawn Variation are to many players more enthralling than 'original' play in the King's Indian Attack.

Any way, here is Bielczyk - Socko.

Fort Knox 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Ne4 Bd7

Trouble for Black in the mainline.

The continuation 5.Nf3 Bc6 6.Bd3 Nd7 7.Ned2!? (or first 7 0-0 Ngf6 8 Ned2) has long been regarded as the mainline in the Fort Knox:

White retreats his knight from a good centre square as he has seen an even better one for it on e5 and so heads there via c4. This plan looks slow, but things can turn very ugly for Black if he underestimates the danger, as demonstrated in this month's game. I think Black is OK, but check out the analysis in Kobalia - Shaposhnikov.

Classical 4.e5

For once Anand doesn't win versus the French

The French Defence made one solitary appearance at the FIDE World Championship in Argentina, and that was a draw in 27 moves. Still, it was pretty action packed as it represented Anand's last attempt to catch up with Topalov. For once the Indian former FIDE World Champion failed to work his magic against the French, though he came within one tempo of mating the black king. Here is Anand - Morozevich.

Classical 4.Bg5 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 gxf6

Impressive novelty by an in-form Ivanchuk

Perhaps some variations are just unlucky: first Kasparov and now Ivanchuk have taken it on themselves to duff up the 6...gxf6 Classical:

Here we see Ivanchuk, who is enjoying perhaps the finest form of his life, coming to the board and making a sacrifice he had no doubt prepared at home. I think only Morozevich, the great hero of the black pieces in this variation, could have successfully resisted the pressure. What a pity Ivanchuk didn't play in the World Championship! Here is Ivanchuk - Volkov.

Winawer Mainline 7.Qg4 0-0

Mixed results as Black tries to avoid the heavy theory

When Andrei Volokitin gets a bad position from the opening as White, it is worth investigating what happened, as the young Ukrainian has both a deep knowledge of theory and an alert positional style. Apparently, Pelletier chose a subvariation to escape from his opponent's preparation and it turned out brilliantly. Here is Volokitin - Pelletier.

However, this isn't the whole story, and before trying this line as Black I recommend you have a look at the critical lines in L'Ami-Lopez Martinez.

Winawer 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Bd3

A new move in a garbled game.

There are still a lot of unexplored avenues here. In this month's game, Black plays something new as early as move 12- something that would be almost unheard of in the 8.Qxg7 mainline. It is unfortunate that despite being broadcast live, the score of the game was completely messed up on the tournament website. Still, it is of great interest, so here is Milos-Rodriguez.

Winawer Mainline 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7

Once more into the maelstrom

Despite being heavily analysed, this variation remains exhilarating. White's extra passed pawn and two bishops are impressive, but his open king is a perpetual headache. It doesn't take much for White to lose control and find that the pleasant '+=' verdict has suddenly turned into '0-1.' Here are Areshchenko - Williams and Hungaski - Rodriguez.

Finally, I was very pleased to get an email from an old friend and rival Neil Crickmore, who has joined the site. He gives the back ground to the game Nisipeanu - Crickmore which was given in the August Update - see this month's Emailbag.

Well, that's all for this month. Good luck with your chess!

Best Wishes, Neil