Classical: The Bayonet Attack
Not for the first time this year these two players fought in a specific line of this system in Van Wely, L - Radjabov, T, GM Biel 2007:
This time, in the above position, Van Wely played 18.g3 as an attempt to improve upon his play in the Amber Blindfold 2007 (then he played 18.Bxf4). however, once again the Dutch player gained no advantage and instead of forcing a draw with 26.Bxf4 he erred and eventually lost the game. The ball remains on White's side.
The Orthodox with 7...Na6
Kasimdzhanov, R - Topalov, V, XX Ciudad de Leon (1.4) 2007, featured the interesting line with 13.c5.
In the diagram position White played the very rare move 18.Qc3 (instead of 18.Rfc1), but it can hardly change the evaluation. The position remained balanced till White's 31st and 32nd moves, but despite losing two pawns on the queenside White was able to create an initiative on the other side of the board and save half a point. An interesting game, which, however, confirmed that it's very difficult for White to prove his advantage in this line, although it might be a good weapon against stronger opposition as White's position is very solid.
The Exchange Variation
The Exchange Variation is a rare guest at the top level, so the game Tukmakov, V - Radjabov, T, Pivdenny Cup Bank 2007, is a chance to see how the top GM treats this line:
Here Teymour chose a relatively rare line with 7...Nbd7 and his choice turned out to be extremely good, as soon White committed five(!) consecutive mistakes and already by move 18 his rook was trapped in the middle of the board. The line chosen by Tukmakov shouldn't cause Black any problems, instead probably 11.Nd5 is the only chance to fight for an advantage.
Grischuk and Radjabov played two games in this system during July. The first game, Grischuk, A - Radjabov, T, Pivdenny Bank Cup 2007, featured the line with 6...c5.
In the diagram position Radjabov introduced the novelty 13...Qa5, but this proved to be insufficient for equality and by the 22nd move Black was a pawn down without clear compensation. Grischuk missed his chances and eventually Radjabov succeeded in transferring play to an endgame with 3vs 2 pawns on one side and held it with accurate defense.
Being unsatisfied with the course of the game Radjabov played a different line in their later encounter, and Grischuk, A - Radjabov, T, GM Biel 2007, was a fantastic battle in the 6...Na6 line.
In the diagram position Grischuk introduced a novelty, 15.Nb5, but Radjabov found a good way to parry it and the position remained balanced up to 51...Re5?, instead of 51...Re3, which forced a draw. Once again Grischuk missed his chances and Radjabov saved the game. What a fantastic fight! Both players deserve the highest praise despite the number of mistakes. From the theoretical point of view the ball is still in White's court who has to look for an improvement. 19.a3!? might be an idea.
The only game in this system is a fight between two former FIDE World Champions, Kasimdzhanov, R - Topalov, V, XX Ciudad de Leon (1.2) 2007.
The following position arose after Black's 21st move:
Here instead of the promising positional piece sacrifice 22.Nxd6, the Uzbek GM played 22.Bd3?! and started to experience problems. Both players committed a number of mistakes, which were unavoidable in such a complicated game, however. I believe White's 22nd move is the critical moment of the opening.
Onischuk, A - Radjabov, T, GM Biel 2007, is a high quality game, which featured the Simagin variation, 7...Bg4, and this critical position arose after White's 17.Qe2:
I believe Radjabov shouldn't have played 17...Nd3?! here, allowing an exchange sacrifice that led to an unpleasant position for Black, which Radjabov once again saved by brilliant defense, including a manoeuvre of the king from the kingside to the queenside while under serious attack from White's pieces. Instead 17...a4, which could lead to a position with mutual chances, deserved attention. Don't miss this game!
Finally the game Ivanchuk, V - Smirin, I, Pivdenny Bank Cup 2007 saw a very interesting and sharp line of the Lesser Simagin Variation with, 7...Bf5.
In the diagram position, which has received very little attention from theoreticians for some unclear reason, White played 10.b4!, initiating big complications. Soon an unbalanced position arose, in which White's chances were slightly superior. Nevertheless, Smirin defended well and succumbed to White's pressure only on the 28th move by transferring to a rook+bishop endgame a pawn down, which Ivanchuk led to a win. Another great fight, which leaves a lot of questions open. The line deserves serious investigation and practical tests.
Enjoy the issue and see you in September.