Classical: The Bayonet Attack
Usually after 10...a5 White captures the pawn by 11.bxa5, but in L'Ami, E - Cheparinov, I, 15th Sigeman&Co 2007, the Dutch GM decided to try 11.Ba3, which has been considered wrong since an old Kramnik-Gelfand game:
However, Cheparinov deviated from Gelfand's recommendation with 11...f5, and despite a few inaccuracies it was an interesting game with some fireworks. Still, I believe that there was no reason to avoid the approved 11...axb4.
The Orthodox with 7...c6
Though the line with 7...c6 is a rare guest in tournament practice, it's generally not easy for White to obtain an opening advantage and Eljanov, P - Jankovic, A, 8th ch-Euro Qualification 2007, was no exception to this rule.
In the diagram position White played 12.Bf2?!, which is a mistake according to Huzman and he's probably right. Fortunately for Eljanov Black then committed a few inaccuracies, which allowed White to take the initiative and then to transfer play to a better endgame, which he won, although not without help from his opponent. The opening play for both sides can be perfected. Thus White has to look for an improvement on or before move 10, while Black's play can be improved starting from move 13. After that we saw a nice technical win from the Ukrainian player.
Onischuk, A - Shomoev, A, TCh-RUS, Sochi 2007.
In the diagram position Onischuk played the novelty 13.Qxd8. Soon Black made an inaccurate move and came under strong pressure. White came close to a win, but went wrong and eventually the game was drawn. This game shows that in order to retain the balance in this line Black has to be very careful.
Early deviations: 4...Bf5
This position, from Ivanchuk, V - Gritsak, O, II Rapid Canada de Calatrava 2007, arose after White's 12.a4:
Black's main problem here is a lack of counterplay, which soon led to a blunder. An extra pawn was then more than enough of a handicap and Ivanchuk led the game to a win without any problems... It is best not to make this opening your main weapon but you can use it from time to time.
Early deviations: 5.Bg5
In Gelfand, B - Ivanchuk, V, Amber Rapid Monte Carlo 2007, Black has just played 7...b5:
This reaction is typical against lines with the bishop on g5, although in this concrete position it seems to be in White's favour.
However starting from move 19 White committed a number of inaccuracies, which forced him on the defensive, but Gelfand was up to the task and saved half a point. An interesting game and a nice escape from Gelfand.
Milov, V - Fedorov, A, 2nd President Cup Baku 2007.
In this critical position Fedorov introduced a novelty, 11...Kf8. However it didn't work out well in this game as Milov underlined the disadvantages of this approach and won deservedly. Probably Black has to come back to 11...Nxh5.
Kazhgaleyev, M - Polgar, J, II Rapid Canada de Calatrava 2007.
Kazhgaleyev played his favourite line with 11.exd5 and in the diagram position he introduced a novelty (13.Rb1) in an attempt to improve upon an earlier game of his. Despite White's inaccuracy on the 19th move we see a very good, almost errorless game up to moves 38 and 39, which was when White went wrong and threw away a well-played game. Nevertheless, the line deserves further tests, though I believe Black should be able to keep equality with accurate play.
The critical position of Svidler, P - Radjabov, T, Amber Rapid Monte Carlo 2007, arose after 13.Qc2:
I believe the main question now is whether 13...Nfxe4 works or not. I haven't succeeded in refuting it and so I believe that it allows Black to equalize without any problems. Instead Radjabov played 13...Qc8 and soon found himself in a passive position. A masterpiece from Svidler, who exploited the weaknesses in Black's position without any visible effort.
Enjoy the issue and see you in June.