ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
These days, many of the top players seem to spend most of their time playing Rapid and Blitz tournaments. This involves playing many games, which implies that they regularly need, and are always on the lookout for, new twists to torment their opponents. You may indeed notice that a number of the annotated games this time are from Rapid events, when the opening tries are a source of inspiration, even if the latter phases are often played sub-optimally due to a lack of time. Even more so with Blitz games, but this doesn't mean that we can't learn from them. A case in point is a game that 'Mark Glenn' brought to my attention where Korobov sacrificed a pawn, see below for my light comments.

Download PGN of December ’22 1 d4 d5 2 c4 games

>> Previous Update >>

Chigorin Defence 3.Nc3 dxc4 4.d5 [D07]

The Chigorin is one of those openings that doesn't arise very often, so it can have surprise value if White has half-forgotten his preparation. I know, as I lost against it recently! Still, in Kozul, Z - Kurajica, B, in the battle of the veterans, Kozul was not worried by Kurajica's opening choice and was able to play a critical line and obtain a big advantage.

I think that 7.a4 is quite a strong move, as, following the natural reply 7...a5, the plan of 8.Be3 with a later Bxb6 seems to favour White. The game is a good illustration of this, despite the fact that White's king had to accept being pushed about early on. I've really tried to find improvements for Black, but have largely failed, so frankly it feels like 4...Ne5 doesn't equalize.

Tarrasch Defence 5...Nc6 6.dxc5 d4 7.Na4 [D32]

OK, the opening is a real gamble for Black, and probably unsound but, would you feel confident facing 7...b5 with White?

In Lupulescu, C - Gavrilescu, D White's play could be improved on, see the note to move thirteen (and the amazing 13.Nxd4!! which takes some calculation, but seems decisive). I also took a look at earlier alternatives for Black, see my notes on move eleven, but I can't find a satisfactory path for him. Note for example that 11...Nf6 is well met by 12.Rc1.

So, after this month's update goes online, if your opponent reads ChessPublishing, I would suggest that you don't try 7...b5 against him or her!

Exchange Variation [D36]

Here is the Korobov, A - Jumabayev, R game from 2020 in answer to one of our subscribers' questions.

Blackburne QGD 5.Bf4 0-0 6.Rc1 dxc4 [D37]

In Fedoseev, V - Kaasen, T this version of the QGD seems solid enough, but White has more space.

In this key position, Black has generally sought counterplay with ...c5, either immediately with 12...c5, or a little later with 12...Rd8 13.Bd3 c5, both of which seem reasonable enough. Here Kaasen pursued his development with 12...b6 and only after fianchettoing his bishop does he hit back at the centre with ...c5. Frankly, all three approaches seem to give excellent prospects of equalizing. Later, and for most of the struggle, Black had a comfortable game, but it was only deep into the endgame that he went astray.

Blackburne QGD 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Qc2 Nc6 9.a3 Qa5[D37]

In Zakhartsov, V - Nozdrachev, V White's lead in development tends to give him the better of the struggle, even if it doesn't seem to be much:

Throughout most of the game White was well on top, although Black had several ways to improve (the last one being 20...Qxc3). Where did this advantage come from? Maybe I should address the question differently: Can Black equalize completely? Maybe not, so this suggests that Zakhartsov's choice of 13.bxc3 is soundly based.

Ragozin 5.Qa4+ Nc6 6.e3 0-0 7.Bd2 Re8 [D38]

In So, W - Gukesh, D another example of the popular 5.Qa4+ leads to plenty of manoeuvring (as is so often the case in this line).

The particularity here is the choice of 7...Re8 and Gukesh's plan of an early ...e5 leading to a dynamic rook on the fifth rank. In fact, the plan turned out quite well as Black seized the initiative, but unfortunately for him the complexity led to errors and Wesley So was able to turn the tables. Black has other plans in the opening, and Gukesh has already experience in them, but the present one looks quite a good choice if one seeks something relatively lively.

Vienna QGD 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 c5 7.Bxc4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Qa5 [D39]

In Le Quang Liem - Duda, J White was successful with his plan of pushing his f-pawn.

Le Quang Liem's 14.Kh1 is a natural way of preparing this advance. Although this is a novelty, the game soon transposed back to known territory. In several e-mail games, Black has been able to find a way to neutralize White's initiative, but this isn't an easy task in OTB play, as Duda found out. The fatal error on move 26 isn't obvious at first, but the wrong square for the rook made all the difference.

Vienna QGD 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 h6 7.Bxf6 Qxf6 8.Bxc4 c5 9.0-0 [D39]

In Vidit, S - Santos Latasa, J Black was able to equalize fairly comfortably.

It seems odd that 13.Rac1 is best met by the loose-looking counter 13...b5. In reply, several moves have been tried, but I don't see any of them leading to an advantage. Vidit's 14.a3 was indeed a novelty, but with the sensible-looking retreat 14...Be7 he was unable to gain any benefit.

All this suggests that Santos Latasa's 12...a6 is indeed a good way to delay committing his king to the kingside.

Semi-Tarrasch 5.cxd5 exd5 [D41]

We are seeing quite a spate of games involving this previously frowned upon line, as witnessed by Handler, L - Wagner, D and the notes.

A sharp position which requires good preparation, but in a number of practical games the player of the black pieces has often underestimated the option of castling long. Why is this? Well, placing the king on a fairly open wing doesn't feel very safe, so it's understandable to prefer ...0-0, but it's astonishing how often in the notes that ...0-0-0 is better. This is because the active black pieces can keep the balance. In the game, Wagner went short and with his bishops also had enough compensation for the pawn deficit, but maybe his second pawn sacrifice was perhaps over-optimistic.

Meran 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.0-0 a6 10.e4 c5 11.d5 c4 [D47]

In a sharp line of the Meran, the players soon got involved in hand-to-hand fighting. At the death in Mamedyarov, S - Sethuraman, S White ultimately came out on top, but I quite liked Black's position along the way.

Here 17...Ne6 turned out to be quite strong, and indeed after 18.b3 c3 19.a3 there are at least a couple of set-ups that favour Black. This suggests to me that 15.Bf4 would have been stronger than the game move 15.Ned4, but nevertheless it only seems to lead to equality after 15...Qd7=.

Meran 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.0-0 b4 [D47]

The line with 9...b4 is less well-known than 9...a6 and has a worse reputation. However, in both the encounter Oparin, G - Abasov, N and the notes, it seems that Black has a sure-fire route to a decent game.

The counter 14...c5 just comes in time for Black to wriggle out, for example, experience indicates that 15.dxc5 can be neutralized by 15...Nd7! etc. Instead, 15.Rd1 can be met by either 15...cxd4 or even Abasov's dynamic try 15...c4!? which should be fine.

At times, he may have to be very precise, but if the early b-pawn push equalizes, then that's the way it is. Later, in the game, 18...Nd7 is an error, but 18...Qc7 would have kept the balance.

Till next month, Glenn Flear

>> Previous Update >>

If you have any questions, then please post a message at the 1 d4 d5 Forum, or subscribers can email