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Welcome to this month's update. I'd like to say I hope you are enjoying watching the games of the Kramnik-Topalov match, but game five has just failed to happen as I write, so I'd better not tempt fate.
Instead I'll offer you some great games in the French, including three in the Winawer Poison Pawn Variation, which always seems to generate exciting games

Download PGN of September '06 French games

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Nc6

Still a great way to escape theory

We begin with a smooth win for Black in the Guimard. It shows the value of taking the opponent out of his theory, as it soon becomes clear that White doesn't really understand how to handle the resulting pawn centre. If you are tired of playing a series of automatic moves in the Tarrasch 3...Nf6, then check out Shen Yang-Leconte.

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 Qxd5

Deep analysis from a guest contributor

GM Bogdan Lalic has a kindly provided analysis to one of his recent games against a formidable opponent. You should compare Bogdan's assessments with those in the ChessPub archives. The message seems to be that Black is OK- here is Nevednichy - Lalic.

Fort Knox 3.Nc3 (3.Nd2) 3...dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7

An opening full of general principles

A long, long time ago when I first started doing this website, I described the Fort Knox Variation as 'theory-proof'. To a large extent it can still be played relying just on general principles and the variations you make up during the game. I guess that is why it has always been one of my favourite opening lines. Not that it leads to dull games, as you can see by clicking on Felgaer - Rustemov.

Classical 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5

An antidote to a bothersome variation?

Vladimir Kramnik has achieved most of his successes with 1.d4 type openings, but he did popularise a very promising line for White in the Classical French. Namely 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 a6 11.Qf2:

I know I've said this before, so older subscribers please forgive me, but Kramnik first played his variation versus Radjabov at Linares 2003. This game won the Game of the Month competition here on ChessPub. Incidentally, the game Radjabov-Kasparov, which won the best game prize in the same Linares tournament, came no where in the vote. Which shows that the subscribers to ChessPub are much smarter than the best game panel at Linares! Incidentally, so that you can judge yourself, here are the two old games, Kramnik - Radjabov and Kasparov - Radjabov.

This month, I want to look at a different way of meeting Kramnik's move. Here is Shomoev - Chebotarev.

Classical 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5

A dynamic line for Black

Here we re-examine 4...dxe4 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 gxf6:

A couple of years ago 6...gxf6 was all the rage, mainly because Morozevich used it to win some high profile games. The best feature for Black is that it contains a lot of potential dynamism, so if White plays with insufficient energy he can quickly end up in trouble. This month's example is a case in point: White is a 2600 Elo player, but he is crushed in a mere 26 moves. This would be a valuable weapon in your armoury. Here is Galkin - Chebotarev.

Winawer 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 b6

Tactical danger for Black, strategic danger for White

If Black wants to avoid the long theoretical lines after 6...c5 7.Qg4, this is the way to go about it. This month 7.Qg4 Ng6 8.h4 h5 9.Qg3 was played in an important game:

After 9....Ba6, White will get the initiative, but Black will have a marked superiority on the light squares. In fact, if White doesn't manage to find a convincing plan, he could suddenly find himself in a strategically lost position. That is what happens to one of the best young players in the world in Karjakin - Bauer.

Winawer Mainline 7.Qg4 Qc7

Some unusual ideas for White and Black

First of all, after the normal moves 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 Nbc6 we'll take a look at 11.h4:

White immediately utilises his kingside passed pawn. A dangerous new line or a reckless experiment? Check out Sulskis - Williams.

Next up is 11.f4 dxc3 (less usual than 11...Bd7) 12.Qd3 Nf5!? Black leaves the bishop on c8 and looks for immediate counterplay with his knights. It may not be what theory recommends, but it worked out well for Black in Luther - Pert.

Finally, we investigate 11.f4 dxc3 12.Qd3 Bd7 13.Rb1 d4!?:

This is perhaps the most important of the three Winawer ideas examined here, though it is only viable after 13.Rb1. Black holds onto the c3 pawn and generates a lot of tactical 'steam' in the process. For some deep analysis, take a look at Hou Yifan-Leconte

Well that's all for now. I hope you enjoyed playing through the games and got some ideas. See you next time and good luck! Best Wishes, Neil

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