We begin with Wang Yue - Nisipeanu. White plays in a very harmless manner with by fixing the centre. In the Fianchetto Variation White usually strives to maintain the tension. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nc3 d6 6.Nf3 Nbd7 7.0-0 e5 8.b3 (of course 8.e4 is the main line) 8...Re8 and now 9.d5 will probably not find many followers:
Black soon equalized.
A lot of games in the Sämisch this month! Ponomariov twice essayed the Sämisch with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0-0 6.Nge2. In both games he achieved some advantage .. and lost.
In Ponomariov,R - Radjabov Black played 6...e5. This is not supposed to be right because of White's next move - 6...c5 is the prescribed recommendation, as Black is not even offering a pawn, and 6...Nc6 is also possible - 7.Bg5! c6 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.d5:
Radjabov played 9...h6!? here, although he did not really manage to equalize. Instead 9...cxd5 10.cxd5 (10.Nxd5!? may be better) 10...a6 11.g4 h6!? is interesting.
Magnus Carlsen preferred 6...Nbd7!? 7.Be3 c5 8.d5 Ne5 9.Ng3 h5!? in Ponomariov,R - Carlsen, although White maintained some advantage here as well. The World #1 still managed to create enough trouble to confuse his opponent.
It is not often we see a 2650+ GM get mated right out of the opening. In Wang Hao - Zhou Jianchao Black tried the rare line 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nc3 0-0 6.Be3 Nfd7 which was favoured by a young Nisipeanu. This may be playable but I remain skeptical. White's direct play made it look too easy.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nc3 0-0 6.Be3 Nc6 The Panno Variation is a fun line that still leaves a lot of room for independent play. 7.Nge2 a6 8.h4 h5 9.Qd2 Re8!? is an interesting sideline:
Now 10.0-0-0 is critical. In the notes I reveal some improvements for Black that I found while researching for Attacking Chess: The King's Indian. Instead Kasparov,S - Bocharov (note that it is Sergey Kasparov, not Garry!) saw Black illustrate one of the points behind 9...Re8 with 10.Nc1 e5 11.d5 Nd4 12.Nb3 c5! 13.dxc6 bxc6 14.Nxd4 exd4 15.Bxd4 d5!? when compared to normal lines Black has played ...Re8 instead of ...Rb8. This may not be adequate theoretically, but one slip from White is all it takes for Black to take over.
In Sulskis, S - Fedorov, Alex we see a 2600+ player venture Bronstein's famous queen sacrifice with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0-0 0 6.Be3 e5 7.d5 Nh5 8.Qd2 Qh4+ 9.g3 Nxg3 10.Qf2 Nxf1 11.Qxh4 Nxe3:
Yasser Seirawan once played this line against none other than Kasparov, but I could not find any other examples of 2600 GM's playing this line. Personally, I think it is worth a go!
In the topical 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Ng4 8.Bg5 f6 9.Bh4 g5 10.Bg3 Nh6 11.c5 line of the Gligoric, after 11...g4 (11...Nc6 is the alternative) Chuprikov, D - Severiukhina, Z sees White play the natural-looking but unusual 12.Nd2:
This does not look as dangerous as 12.Nh4.
Romanov, E - Yevseev, D sees Black make a return to a line of the Gligoric not seen much these days. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 exd4 (the modern finesse 7...c6 is designed to avoid the line played in the game, as explained in the notes) 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 c6 10.Bf2! (10.Qd2 d5 11.exd5 cxd5 12.0-0 Nc6 13.c5 allows Kasparov's 13...Rxe3!?) 10...d5 11.exd5 cxd5 12.0-0 Nc6 13.c5 14.Qd2 Be5 15.g3 Ng7:
White plays 16.Rfe1 and Black has no problems at all, but I still must wonder what Black intended against the more common 16.Rfd1.
Another topical line in the Gligoric is reached after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Ng4 8.Bg5 f6 9.Bh4 Nc6 10.d5 Ne7 11.Nd2 Nh6 12.f3 c5 (Black can also play 12...g5):
Now White chooses between 13.Rb1 and 13.dxc6. The latter has always seemed more dangerous to me, and after 13...bxc6 14.b4 Be6 15.Nb3 d5 Tan Zhongyi - Ju Wenjun White played 16.Nc5 rather than the sterile 16.cxd5 that we saw last month in Gelfand-Radjabov. White kept an edge throughout and won a long game.
Radjabov avoided his usual 7...Nc6 main line and went for 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Na6 in Gelfand - Radjabov. After 8.Be3 Ng4 9.Bg5 Qe8 10.Re1 exd4 11.Nd5 Qe8 10.Re1 exd4 Gelfand played Kramnik's 11.Nd5 (last month we looked at 11.Nxd4) which was met with 11...f6!? 12.Bf4 d3!? Perhaps White should be able to maintain a tiny edge here, but Black's position is certainly playable and Radjabov won with surprising ease.
Until next month, David