Classical: The Bayonet attack
The game Topalov, V - Morozevich, A, Amber rapid 2008, featured a virtually new idea in the well-known diagram position:
Topalov suddenly played 12.Bd2, which soon provoked ...h6 and then a further weakening of Black's position. Topalov skilfully exploited the weaknesses and, despite some inaccuracies, won the game. A convincing victory from Topalov who introduced a new way to meet the 9...a5 system. I don't think we will have to wait too long before Black comes up with a new idea, such as, for example, 12...Nh5.
Classical: The old main line with 9.Nd2
The encounter of the "student" and his second saw an interesting novelty from the latter. See Kramnik,V-Van Wely, Amber Blindfold 2008.
Here Black closed the position with 13...c5, instead of the earlier played 13...Nc8, and surprisingly easily achieved a promising position, and even missed some chances to fight for the initiative. Van Wely's novelty allowed him to equalize easily, so the ball is now on White's side.
A relatively rare guest at the top level, this system allowed Mamedyarov to equalize without big problems against ex-World Champion Topalov.
In the diagram position White introduced the novelty 22.h3, which, however, didn't change the evaluation of the position as close to equality, and with a few precise moves the Azeri player achieved a draw - see Topalov, V - Mamedyarov, S, Amber Rapid 2008. Frankly speaking, I see no real problems for Black in this line and so I won't be surprised if this rare line with 7...exd4 becomes much more popular. Probably 11.f4 promises more chances for an advantage.
Classical: The Orthodox system with 7...Na6
This line is more popular, but you don't see it often in the hands of two ex-World Champions, Kramnik, V - Topalov, V, Amber Rapid 2008.
Here Kramnik surprised his opponent with the rare continuation 10.Re1. Already Black's 11th move turned out to be a novelty, but surprisingly Topalov rejected the principled 15...Bxb2 and soon found himself under pressure. Kramnik seized the initiative, but then a long series of inaccuracies began. Topalov was last to err, which allowed Kramnik to sacrifice his queen and then finish the game with a spectacular blow, which you'll find easily:
A great end to this interesting game. In order to justify Black's novelty the latter has to test 15...Bxb2.
Classical: The Orthodox system with 7...Nbd7
The game Eljanov, P - McShane, L, Bundesliga 2007-8, saw a relatively rare line with 8...h6:
Soon White won an exchange, but decided to sac it back for the initiative, but probably not choosing the best way to do so. Although White was slightly better throughout the game, Black defended well and achieved a drawish position. Black showed good defense, but the advantage in this line is on White's side. For example 19.Qb3! seems to set Black serious problems.
Ivanisevic, I - Sedlak, N, ch-Serbia 2008, featured a recently popular line with 8...Re8.
In the diagram position Black deviated from Radjabov's 14...Nf6, and for some reason played the old move 14...Rf8. White introduced a novelty and soon set Black some serious problems, which he failed to solve. A great game from Ivanisevic, as Black didn't have a single chance. 14...Nf6 has to be preferred over 14...Rf8 since Black must create counterplay before White succeeds in stabilizing his position in the centre and on the kingside.
The game Mamedyarov, S - Ivanchuk, V saw a long forgotten line of the Fianchetto system with 6...Nbd7.
In the diagram position Ivanchuk played 10...Re8 instead of 10...b5. White managed to obtain a certain initiative thanks to the better pieces, but with a series of exchanges Ivanchuk simplified the osition and equalized the game. Probably White could set more problems with the help of 19.Na4 or 15.b5.
It is unusual to see yours truly on the Black side of the King's Indian, so Vallejo Pons, F - Mikhalevski, V, Heviz 2008, is something of a rarity. My opponent prepared a solid setup with an early Bf4, and the critical position arose after 12.Rc1:
Here I opted for the dubious 12...a5, which was met very sharply by 13.d5. White offered a pawn and an exchange for the initiative, which I declined. In the double-edged tactical struggle which followed Black achieved a slightly better position, which eventually led to an endgame with an extra pawn. White saved half a point with good defense, but although Black achieved a good position in the game he should prefer to choose between 12...Bb7 and 12...Rc8.
Enjoy the issue and see you in May, Victor