Classical: The Bayonet Attack
In Bacrot, E - Bologan, V, 1st ACP World Rapid Cup 2007, White has just played the rare 12.a4 (instead of the more popular 12.Nd2):
which Bologan answered with his favourite 12...Ra8, soon White played a5 and provoked ...b6. Black won the a5-pawn, but then White won it back with profit and gained a clear advantage. We can say that White's provocative tactics in the opening succeeded. Black missed a chance to complicate matters on the 19th move and then found himself in a difficult position, which White managed to win, although not without some mistakes.
Instead, the game Werle, J - Bologan, V, Corus B Wijk aan Zee 2007, featured the main line with 12.Nd2:
Only two moves later Black played the surprising novelty 14...Nf4-h5, although he had only just played ...Nh5-f4 on the 12th move! Soon a complicated, but approximately equal, position arose in which White was the first to err. Black seemed to take the initiative, but White managed to regain it after an exchange sacrifice which Black shouldn't have allowed. Then, instead of obtaining an endgame with an extra pawn, White blundered again and the tables were turned once again. This time Bologan didn't miss his chance and won this very complex game. Probably further tests of Bologan's idea will clarify the situation, but I believe that White's novelty may come as early as the 15th move.
The first two games featured 8...a5, but instead Werle, J - Nijboer, F, Corus B Wijk aan Zee 2007, is an example of Shirov's pet line (13 Bb2) following 8...Nh5. Now, in the diagram position, Black can play 14...h6 transposing to the main line with an exchange sacrifice on e5:
Instead Nijboer prepared a very rare line with 14...fxe4, leading to a clear game without visible mistakes, which ended as a draw. Probably White's 15th move is the critical moment of the game.
The Makogonov system
Georgiev, V - Stellwagen, D, Corus B Wijk aan Zee 2007.
Black has chosen a rare setup against the Makogonov system, with 6...c6 and 7...a6, and step by step outplayed his opponent both positionally and tactically. An easy and convincing win from the Dutch player. It seems that the line chosen by White in this game doesn't promise much. Probably White has to look for an improvement as early as the 8th or 9th move.
This time there are two games in this system. Let's start with Novikov,St-Fedorov,A, Moscow Open 2007.
In the diagram position White chose the aggressive continuation 10.h4, instead of the 10.Kb1 which occurred in the game Jobava, B - Smirin, I, World Team Championship 2005. Fedorov was the first to play a novelty on the 11th move, and by move 20 Black had completely outplayed his lower-rated opponent, but soon started to err and Novikov emerged the winner. Despite Black's loss in this game he had no opening problems. It's possible that White's aggressive plan with h4-h5 doesn't promise any advantage.
Next up is Riazantsev, A - Amonatov, F, Moscow Open 2007.
In the diagram position White has to choose between 11.0-0-0 and 11.Bd3. Riazantsev chose the latter, while I prefer the former. Soon White found himself without a clear plan, but with accurate play he succeeded in equalizing. I believe White can try to improve his play on moves 15 and 11.
There also two game in this variation this month. It's curious that in both games the Chinese player Bu Xiangzhi outplayed his strong opponents in rare, but very poisonous lines, both times involving 8.Qd3. Let's start with Bu Xiangzhi-Nijboer,F, Corus B Wijk aan Zee 2007.
White has just played 8.Qd3 instead of the more popular 8.h3, and already on the next move played a logical novelty. Soon he opened the position and obtained a clear advantage. However, he suddenly erred and allowed Black to equalize but he in turn missed his chance and duly lost. One picturesque position arose in one of the many crazy possible lines from this game. Take a look:
All four pieces on the a8-h1 diagonal are hanging!!!
Our last game in this update and second in this system is Bu Xiangzhi-Bologan,V, Corus B Wijk aan Zee 2007.
This time the novelty came much later. In the diagram position Bologan played 16...Bf5 instead of 16...Qh5. This looks like an improvement, but it doesn't change the evaluation as White's position after 17.Na4! remains better. By move 22 Black's position already looked very dubious. The nice lift of the rook via d5 to h5 allowed White to create serious threats to Black's king, and Bologan started to look for complications, but Bu led the game to a win without giving his opponent any chances, though his play could be improved a number of times. A solid performance from the Chinese player. Now it's a good time to start looking for a better defense against this poisonous system, and Azarov's 8...Bd7 might be an idea.
Enjoy the issue and see you in April.