1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 4.e3 Nf6 5.d4 cxd4 6.exd4 e4 7.Ne5 Bb4 8.Be2 Qa5 9.Nxc6 dxc6 10.O-O O-O 11.Bd2 Re8 12.a3 Bxc3 13.Bxc3 Qg5 14.Bd2 Qg6
since the idea of playing 15.Qb3N in this well-known position seems to be very sensible – the b7-pawn ends up in the crosshairs. It’s another matter that after 15…h5 16.Rfe1 h4 White should have exercised minimal caution and played, for example, 17.Bf4. I’m not sure Black can talk about equality in this position.
9. Hardly a day passes without something new happening in the Grünfeld Defense. The tireless I. Kurnosov keeps enriching our knowledge in this opening, and this time it was in quite a rare variation:
Evdokimov, Alexander - Kurnosov, I
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 O-O 7.e4 Bg4 8.Be3 Nfd7 9.O-O-O Nb6 10.Qc5
I’ve no idea how strong this is but the effort to restrain the white queen looks very logical.
8. Perhaps if there’s any opening that’s been studied inside out it’s the French Defense, and specifically the variation 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5. But no, even here there’s enough elbow room for innovation.
Inarkiev, E - Grachev, B
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Nbd7 6.Nf3 h6 7.Bh4 Be7 8.Nxf6+ Nxf6 9.Bd3 O-O 10.Qe2 Nd5 11.Bxe7 Qxe7 12.O-O-O
Grachev’s move 12…Bd7N will probably allow someone to sleep soundly tonight, and for that we award it 8th place.
7. I’m sure the variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defense that occurred in the following game will now become very popular.
Carlsen, M - Karjakin, Sergey
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.e3 Bb7 6.Bd3 O-O 7.O-O c5 8.Na4 cxd4 9.exd4 Re8 10.a3 Bf8 11.Bf4 d6 12.Re1 Nbd7 13.Rc1
Normal quiet development was disturbed by the sharp 13…e5N which enabled Karjakin to draw against Carlsen. That’s something by no means everyone manages at the moment, so I think all doubts about how deserved 7th place is simply fall away.
6. The Caro-Kann Defense is at the height of its fame. As a matter of fact, a solid opening which allows you to count on seizing the initiative isn’t a ready commodity nowadays. If that’s the case, then
Hou Yifan - Laznicka, V
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 e6 11.Bf4 Qa5+ 12.Bd2 Bb4 13.c3 Be7 14.c4 Qc7 15.O-O-O Ngf6 16.Rhe1 O-O 17.Nf5
Laznicka’s latest novelty 17…Bd6N takes on particular importance. This move is simple, even obvious, but for some reason it’s never been seen before.
5. Now we come to heavyweight novelties changing our notion of one variation or another.
Landa, K - Romanov, E
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 Qb6 8.Nb3 Be7 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.Qxd6 Bd7
Houdini’s proposal of 11.Nb5 falls precisely into that category. I guess the number of players giving up pawns in the Rauzer Variation will reduce after this game.
4. It’s difficult for me to assess the objective strength of the next new move
Timofeev, Artyom - Inarkiev, E
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.h3 e5 7.d5 Nh5 8.Nh2 Qe8 9.Be2 Nf4 10.Bf3 f5 11.g3 Nxh3 12.Bg2 fxe4 13.Be3 Bf5
14. Qd2N, but the game that followed turned out to be very juicy, and the variation seen in this game is currently one of the most popular.
3. And now for the winners. The following idea will delight the many, many fans of quiet positional struggles without excessive risk:
Matlakov, M - Jakovenko, D
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Qb3 dxc4 5.Qxc4 Bf5 6.g3 e6 7.Bg2 Nbd7 8.O-O Be7 9.e3 O-O 10.Rd1 Qc7 11.Nc3 Nd5 12.Ne1 N7b6
14. Qb3N Nc3 15. Qc3 – the whole point is precisely that it’s possible to capture with the Queen. White prepares f2-f3 and e3-e4, restraining the enemy bishop, and if Jakovenko couldn’t come up with anything to counter it, then Black’s task probably isn’t so easy.
2. In the previous review I made the assumption that our top-list would rarely pass without a novelty by A. Khalifman. The same applies to K. Sakaev, another resident of St. Petersburg. Here’s his quality-label bombshell:
Sakaev, K - Bukavshin, I
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Qxd4 7.Bxb4 Qxe4+ 8.Be2 Na6 9.Ba5 b6 10.Qd6 Bd7 11.Bc3 f6 12.Nf3 Nh6
After this White lost the game, but it seems his play can easily be improved.
1. And finally, first place. Yes, a name that’s already familiar to us has risen to the top: I. Kurnosov.
Alekseev, Evgeny - Kurnosov, I
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Qc2 Nc6 6.d4
6…Ndb4. I’m sure we’ll learn a lot of new things about this position in the near future. In the actual game the new idea proved its soundness.
To top things off, I’d like to mention the worst novelty, which occurred in the Yurtaev Variation of the Ruy Lopez:
(New Delhi IND, 24.06.2011)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.c3 d6 8.d4 Bb6 9.a4 Rb8 10.axb5 axb5 11.Na3 O-O 12.Nxb5 Bg4 13.Re1 Bxf3 14.gxf3 Nh5 15.Kh1 Qf6 16.Rg1 Nf4
This game ended in the total domination of the black pieces on the black squares.
See you next week!
Top-10 Theoretical Novelties TWIC 868