Classical: The Bayonet Attack
Our first game this month is Postny, E - Smirin, I, Maalot-Tarshiha 2008.
In the diagram position Black played the rare 12...Ne8 (instead of the usual 12...Ra6 with the idea of 13...Nd7) and it had an immediate effect on his opponent, who tried the not very successful novelty 13.Ne1. Black took hold of the initiative just a few moves later and won the game in good style, not leaving White any chances to escape. White has to come back to 13. Nb5.
Classical Main line with 9.Nd2
Recently we haven't see Kramnik having to fight against the King's Indian, but what choice does he have against Radjabov?
Here Radjabov played 12...axb4, instead of the more popular 12...Kh8. Kramnik met it with an interesting, and virtually new idea 15.dxc6, but Black reacted correctly and could have equalized with 19...d5. A slight inaccuracy allowed Kramnik to take the initiative, but this was only sufficient for an endgame with a minimal material advantage. Radjabov defended precisely and eventually a draw was agreed. A high-quality game, which leaves the ball in White's court, see Kramnik, V - Radjabov, T, Wijk aan Zee 2008.
Classical main line with 9.Ne1
The game Rodshtein, M - Avrukh, B, Maalot-Tarshiha 2008, saw an interesting novelty in Portisch's line with 11.g4:
Here White suddenly played 12.g5, a novelty in a well-known position. White's idea is simple- he takes the f6-square away from Black and plays for a spatial advantage. Soon the game transposed to 12.h4, but then White introduced another novelty, 14.Rf2. White had the initiative throughout most of this extremely complicated game, but Black defended well and eventually the game was drawn. Good fighting chess! White's opening idea is very interesting and deserves further tests.
The Exchange Variation
A long theoretical line with 9...Nbd7 in this variation led to the following endgame position in Gyimesi, Z - Smirin, I, Maalot-Tarshiha 2008:
White is slightly better thanks to his control of the d-file, but here Black introduced a bad novelty, 21...Nb6, which immediately led to a difficult position. Despite White's inaccuracy on the 27th move, this was a good game, which underlines some problems for Black in the 9...Nbd7 line. So probably 9...Re8 or 9...c6 have to be preferred
The line with 6.h3
The game Maceja, B - Smirin, I, Maalot-Tarshiha 2008, featured a line with 8.g4, which immediately led to a sharp battle.
Here Smirin played 9...Nb4 and White had to solve some immediate problems, which he failed to do and soon found himself under some pressure. Instead of 17.Nc7 he could still have drawn with 17.Kb1, but after his choice there was no way back and Black won convincingly. I believe the reason for White's loss in this game is his unfortunate opening.
Lputian, S - Petrosian, T 68th ch-ARM, Yerevan 2008, saw a very rare, but extremely interesting positional exchange sacrifice:
Here Black shocked his opponent with 10...Rxe3. It's difficult to resist saying that this is an exchange sacrifice in the style of ... Petrosian! Soon Black occupied the e5-squared with a bishop, then it was replaced by the queen's knight. Eventually White decided to sacrifice back an exchange to get an extra pawn, but the endgame also turned out to be fine for Black, who took the initiative and even won a pawn, but his advantage turned out to be insufficient for a win. Anyway, a good game from Tigran Petrosian. His great predecessor would have been proud of him.
5.Bd3 and 6.Nge2 System
In the game Eljanov, P - Radjabov, T, Wijk aan Zee 2008, White decided to surprise his opponent with a rare line of this not very popular system.
In the diagram position he played 8.Bg5 instead of 8.h3 or 8.0-0 and after 8...h6 retreated to f4, instead of 9.Bh4, which allowed Black to transfer the knight via g4 to e5 and exchange the light-squared bishop. After that White had to play accurately to maintain equality, but erred, first with 20.Nf1?! and then with 24.f4, which was already played in an unpleasant position. Radjabov led the game to a win without problems. A very unfortunate opening choice from Eljanov.
Four Pawns Attack
The Four Pawns Attack is a rare guest at the higher level, although some of the strong players try it once in a while with good results, for instance Jobava, B - Nebolsina, V, Bali Torneo de Estrellas 2008.
In this critical position White chose a rare line with 12.Bf1. Its theory is mainly based on games from the young Israeli IM Ilya Khmelniker who has had very good results with it. Nebolsina was surprised by her opponent's choice and played as in the 12.h3 main line with 12...Rc8, when, instead 12...a6 13.a4 Nh5! is better.
Nevertheless, everything looked more or less ok for Black up to 19.Kh1, but 19...Qa5? turned out to be a serious mistake as after 20. e5! dxe5 21.d6 it's not easy to find a good defense. So the Four Pawns Attack can work well as a surprise weapon, but if Black knows the theory of the line it shouldn't cause serious problems.
Enjoy the issue and see you in March, Victor