Classical: The Bayonet attack
Our first game this month is Van Wely, L - Morozevich, A, Amber Blindfold 2006. A critical position in the line with 9...a5 arose after 16.Qc2:
Here Morozevich came along with the new idea 16...Rf7. White reacted well to Black's idea, but then failed to solve some unexpected problems, which arose after Black made some sacrifices. The idea deserves further tests.
In the game Mikhalevski, V - Finegold, B, Chicago Spring Invitational 2006 Black also tried the line with 9...a5, but later went for the relatively rare line with 12..Ne8. See the diagram below:
I believe I obtained a slight edge, which I could have cemented with 17.Bf3!? after an interesting novelty on the 15th move. Instead I played the more optimistic 17.exf5 with a complicated position. Ben missed his chance on move 20 and soon my advantage became unquestionable. Only some inaccuracies in the endgame provided Black with some chances to escape, which he missed and so I eventually won the game.
Usually I play well against the Israeli team second board Ilya Smirin, and this next game wasn't to become an exception! In Mikhalevski, V - Smirin, I, Foxwoods Open 2006, Ilya decided to surprise me with the rare line 8...h6:
I met this with a strong idea on the tenth move which I found over the board. Black was under pressure throughout the entire game, but I missed a number of good opportunities in time trouble and eventually had to be satisfied with a draw. The line with 8...h6 is in trouble after this game.
Another game in this popular variation took place in Monaco. This time, in Topalov, V - Svidler, P, Amber Blindfold 2006, White chose the line with 8.Re1. The key-position arose after 18.Rac1:
Here Peter played the optimistic 18...a3?!, which worked after Topalov's serious inaccuracy on move 20. Svidler took the initiative and didn't allow the World Champion a single chance. Still, the opening line has nothing to do with this loss and the position can be played with both colours.
The Petrosian System
It seems that Morozevich prepared the King's Indian especially for the Amber tournament. Vallejo, P - Morozevich, A, Amber rapid 2006, is another of his wins in his new opening. Alexander played a side line of the Petrosian system and an important position arose after 15.Be3:
Here Morozevich came up with an interesting pawn sacrifice, 15...f5, which turned out to be a novelty. However we didn't see a real test of this idea because White committed an inaccuracy on move 20 and soon blundered into a simple tactic. Despite some valiant attempts to escape he lost the game. This pawn sacrifice definitely deserves further tests.
Bareev, E - Bologan, V, 7th Karpov Poikovsky 2006 is an exceptional example of brilliant home preparation. Bareev analysed his old game against Yurtaev in detail and found a deep novelty.
This key-position arose after 15...Rfd8. Earlier White reacted either with 16.0-0 or with 16.h3, however Evgeny played the new idea 16.Ng3! and although Bologan reacted in the most logical way, he soon found his bishop was in a trap from which it couldn't escape despite Viorel's resourceful defense - he eventually lost the bishop and resigned the game.
In retrospect 20...Bb1 is probably a mistake. I believe Black has to follow my recommendation with just a slight edge for White. I wonder whether Black will risk entering this complicated line again?
The game Topalov, V - Morozevich, A, Amber rapid 2006 saw another rare line of Morozevich's:
The point of this variation is not only to prevent e4, but also to avoid the main theoretical lines... White obtained a better position from the opening, but Black found a way to complicate matters (14..f5) and, after Topalov's inaccuracies, seized the initiative. However, Morozevich returned the favour when it was White who had an advantage. Eventually both players committed a number of inaccuracies and the game ended in a share of the point. This line may be recommended for those who don't wish to study the main theoretical lines.
Our last game in this update, Shabalov, A - Mikhalevski, V, Foxwoods Open 2006, is a rare game of mine on the black side of the King's Indian. Frankly speaking it wasn't me who wished to play it as black, but rather my opponent who forced me to play it...!
The first surprise came no later than the third (!) move with 3 d5:
This is a clever way to force Grünfeld players to play the King's Indian. It turns out that it's not so easy to exploit the early d5. Nevertheless, I managed to equalize after breaking through in the centre in the following position:
by 16...d5. After some exchanges White made a mistake and I took the initiative in the endgame with a rook vs two pieces. In time trouble I missed a chance to end the game in my favour and committed a serious error, which could have brought me a difficult position, but fortunately White returned the favour and lost on time.
If you wish to avoid the Grünfeld defense and surprise your opponent in the opening, then 3.d5 may be a good idea.
Enjoy the issue and see you in May.