ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
There's a lot of exciting chess this month- a rook sacrifice, two knight sacrifices and two exchange sacrifices, not counting a couple of cases where players unintentionally 'sacrificed' the exchange or knight. Even that supposed enemy of interesting chess, the French Exchange, has yielded an intriguing battle, and that's where we'll begin.

Download PGN of September '07 French games

French Exchange: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5!?

The Nakamura Counterattack?

We first looked at the avoidance of the normal French Exchange with 3...Qxd5 a couple of months ago, for which see Bevilacqua-Drazic.

Black might not be quite equal, as it amounts to a rather passive version of 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5; but it also leads to an imbalanced pawn structure, from which the stronger or more ambitious player can hope to outplay his opponent. Statistically speaking, the results have been very good for Black, though with few games involving players rated over 2300.

Leading the charge for 3..Qxd5 is a young American. He counterattacks in vigorous style and wins after some hair raising moments in Gonzalev - Nakamura

Is it time to give 3...Qxd5 a go in your games?

Advance: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Be7

An ingenious bluff saves the day for White

In view of the interest in the Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Be7, it's no surprise that some players have experimented with 3...Be7 versus the Advance. It remains a very rare move though, and a good way to escape theory- or rather to lead the game into theory uncongenial to the opponent after transpositions:

I'm amazed that no one as White has tried 4.Qg4 in reply- is it because players who like 3.e5 don't want to be involved in any 'Winawer-style' early skirmishes with the queen?!

In this month's game, a strong Indian Grandmaster gets into trouble as White and has to bamboozle his opponent- here is Sandipan - Nouri.

Tarrasch: 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4

A Petrosian-like Exchange Sacrifice: Number One.

After 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.f4 Nc6 7.Ndf3 cxd4 8.cxd4 I have always been fond of the ultra solid 8...f5!:

I have described Black's set up as being a bomb-proof shelter, but there is a structural weakness on f5 that can be undermined with Rg1 and g2-g4. To bolster the square and the resulting open g-file I've recommended that Black play ...0-0, then ...Nb6, ...Bd7, ...Be8 and ...Bg6. Ganguly plays it differently as Black. Because he loses I would like to gloat and say 'I told you so!' But in fact Black had really quite a promising position, and only lost because he overlooked a fine positional exchange sacrifice in the style of Tigran Petrosian. Here is Kim - Ganguly.

Classical 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5

A Petrosian-like Exchange Sacrifice Number Two

Next up is a dynamic idea introduced to the top level by Morozevich, 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 b5 9.a3 Bb7 10.Bd3 Qc7 11.0-0 0-0-0:

Black castles queenside and aims to advance on the kingside. You would have thought that White's attack would have more impetus, but it is by no means easy to get at the black king, despite all the black pawns on the queenside being advanced. Malakhatko breaks the deadlock with a positional exchange sacrifice. Enjoy Mueller - Malakhatko.

Winawer Mainline: 7.Qg4 Qc7

Fortune favours the brave

One of the Winawer Poisoned Pawn mainlines is reached after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 Nbc6 11.f4 dxc3 12.Qd3 Bd7 13.Rb1:

Here we examine 13...Nf5 14.h4. Paveliev comes up with an interesting response and wins in dramatic style against some admittedly eccentric play by White. We shouldn't be too hard on Paveliev because post game analysis shows that his combination wasn't quite watertight. He played with energy and imagination, and he got his deserved reward in Fokin - Paveliev.

Winawer Mainline: 7.h4

One or two slips and White is in trouble

The efforts of Short [in the 1980s] Kasparov [in the 1990s] and Morozevich [in the 2000s] have shown us the power of an early h4-h5 advance against the Winawer. Well, these guys make the plan look very, very good. But at slightly less exalted levels of chess, there is always the chance that White will lose the positional thread, in which case Black can achieve startling results. In the game selected here, Socko beats Lahno as Black in 25 moves. Would this have happened in the Petroff or the Caro-Kann, even if White had made some inaccuracies? Here is Lahno - Socko.

Winawer Mainline: 6...Qc7 7.Qg4 f5

Strategical misery, but some tactical joy for Black

After 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Qg4 f5 8.Qg3 cxd4 9.cxd4 Ne7 10.Ne2 0-0 11.c3 Black's results have been consistently bad with the plan of 11...b6 and a queenside fianchetto. The young Indian GM Negi achieves a strategically winning position with great ease as White; while in the analysis a player rated 2406 stumbles into a twelve move loss as Black! Have a look at what I mean in Negi - Charmier.

The alternative 11...Ng6!? is analysed in our next game:

It certainly seems a better try than 11...b6. A hard tactical battle begins, with Black committed to material offers, but at least he achieves a lot of freedom for his pieces.

Prepare to counterattack as in Kritz - Berg.

OK, that's all for September. I hope you enjoyed it and good luck with your chess!

All Best Wishes, Neil

Subscribers can email me at