ChessBase Magazine Vol. 106 contains around 1640 games, 506 with expert annotations. There are section on tactics, strategy, endgames, and extensive theory articles, all by great experts in the field. The multimedia section contains interviews with players at the Wijk aan Zee tournament, including Garry Kasparov's press conference announcing his retirement from competitive chess.
Contents of ChessBase Magazine 106
By Frederic Friedel
When you start the ChessBase Magazine 106 CD, using ChessBase 9, you will see icons of the databases and files contained in this issue. Note that if the contents of CBM 106 are not automatically displayed you can get them by clicking on the drive symbol on the left of the window.
You can right-click the window with the icons and use "View – Details” (or press Ctrl-D) to get a different view of the files and folders:
This view allows you to sort the list according to title, number of games, the format and the location. Ctrl-I takes you back to the icon view, where you can also sort the files by right-clicking an empty area on the database window and using "Sort symbols”.
If you are using the special "ChessBase Reader” provided on the CD, this will automatically load the multimedia report from the Magazine.
In the Reader you generally use the menu "File – Open – Database” (or Ctrl-O) to select databases on the CD in a Windows file selector.
Since the Reader presents the multimedia report first, let us take a look at it. In CBM 106 it is a report on the Super-Tournament which ran from February 23 to March 10 in the southern Spanish town of Linares. It was the XXII Torneo International de Ajedrez, a category 20 double round robin, with seven participants: Garry Kasparov, Viswanathan Anand, Veselin Topalov, Peter Leko, Michael Adams, Francisco Vallejo Pons and Rustam Kasimdzhanov.
If you are using the Reader the videos in the report appear as little Windows multimedia icons. If you are using ChessBase 9 the first frame of each video is displayed and can be clicked to start the clip.
There is another way to access the multimedia report. On the CBM 106 CD you will find a file named CBM106mm.htm, which you can start by double-clicking. This will fire up your default HTML browser and present the report in the traditional web display. Here you will see a picture from each of the videos which you can click to start.
Note that when you start a video clip from the HTML page it will be replayed in your media player. When you do so in ChessBase 9 or the Reader it will appear in a board window, together with the chessboard. This is because the interview partner can theoretically move pieces on the board to explain what he or she is doing. This does not happen in our Linares sequences. If you want you can "undock” the video window and maximise it to get the best effect.
|Grab the separation bar (two horizontal lines) above the multimedia frame and drag it off the board window. This will cause it to "float”, and you can resize it like any other window to get the optimum quality on your screen. Double-clicking the blue bar at the top of the floating window will redock it in its original place in the board window.|
The multimedia report on Linares starts at round twelve and the game between Michael Adams and Garry Kasparov. The latter had won their first-half encounter, but in their return game Adams had white, and he is known to have caused this opponent some problems with the white pieces in the past. However, Kasparov won. Our video shows the two analysing the game (with subdued voices) in the hall next to the playing stage
The multimedia report also contains an interview with Leontxo Garcia, a Spanish journalist who specializes in chess. Leontxo has witnessed all Linares tournaments, and he tells us about this great traditional event and the people around it. Then there is a video showing the fateful final round game between Veselin Topalov and Garry Kasparov. The former won but the latter had enough points, regular and tiebreak, to take first prize.
After this we have an interview with Bulgarian star Veselin Topalov, who is a calm, cheerful personality, always friendly and quick to come up with a humorous reply. Here, at the end of the mammoth event, you can see the exhaustion written in his face.
The end of a great professional career
The shocker in Linares came an hour after the game Topalov vs Kasparov. At a special press conference Garry Kasparov, the world’s strongest player and leader of the world rankings for twenty consecutive years, stunned the public and journalists by announcing his retirement from professional chess. He had revealed this decision to his closest friends just before the announcement, which was originally planned for the closing ceremony the next day. But after his loss in the last game (of his professional career) he decided to get it out of the way on the same evening.
In Linares Kasparov informed us about what was coming, so we had a video camera ready on a tripod in front of the stage when he started speaking. You can catch the entire momentous speech. It begins with the words "It could come as a surprise to many of you. But before this tournament I made a conscious decision that Linares 2005 will be my last professional tournament, and today I played my last professional game. I hoped I could do better in my last game, but unfortunately the last two games were very difficult for me, to play under such pressure, because I knew it was the end of a career which I could be proud of. I may play some chess for fun, but it will no longer be professional competitive chess.”
Garry Kasparov announcing his retirement at a press conference in Linares,
on Thursday, March 10th at 10:45 p.m.
The next day Kasparov spoke to a general audience of spectators, sponsors, chess dignitaries and his colleagues (none of whom were present at the press conference the previous evening). This too is captured in our video report. With polyglott Ljubomir Ljubojevic translating Kasparov looks back nostalgically at his many appearances in Linares. In 1990, he tells us, when he played there for the first time, the city practically ended behind the hotel. The guests are quite moved by this parting speech.
Finally we have a short video showing the organisers thanking Klara Kasparova, Garry Kasparov’s mother, who has accompanied him to Linare so many times and who has won the hearts of the people in that town.
The main database CBM 106
The database icon labelled "106 CBM” is the one that contains the main body of games. To start or open this file you should double-click the icon (or click it and hit Enter, or right-click the icon and click "Open”). This will bring you to a navigation text that allows you to open various other files.
Clicking any of the entries will open the corresponding database in a new window, a practical way to start them. To get to the games of the main database click on the "Games” tab at the top of the navigation window of CBM 106.
The games list shows 1640 entries, of which three are text reports (one is the navigation window we have just seen above). 506 games contain analysis and variations, many by top experts in the field.
To see who has annotated games in CBM 106 click on the "Annotator” Tab at the top of the games window. This will produce a list which can be sorted according to the annotators or the number of games analysed. If you click a name you will get a list of the games which were analysed by this expert to the right. Double-clicking on any of these games will load it for replay.
Click on the "Tournament” tab to get a list of the tournaments on the CBM 106 CD. You can click on any of the categories in the title bar to sort the list alphabetically, according to place, date, type, nationality, category, number of rounds, number of games and whether the tournaments are complete or not.
Note that you can search for a tournament by typing one or two letters of the tournament name into the input box at the bottom left. This is not so relevant here, because the number of tournaments is manageable. But in a very large database it is invaluable. If you do not know the exact name of the tournament you can click on "Filter” at the bottom and type in a part of it. For instance searching for "Aero” will get you the Moscow Aeroflot Open. Note that the filter search is case sensitive. There is an "Activate” checkbox in the Filter window to switch the filter on and off.
GM Dr Karsten Müller has selected 32 instructive endgames, some of which are defined as training positions, i.e. they ask you to find a solution in a specific amount of time and give you points for succeeding in doing so. This is the best way to improve your skill in a very critical part of the game.
In one of the endgames Karsten looks at a historic game between Veselin Topalov and Garry Kasparov in Linares. It was played under special conditions. Kasparov knew it was going to be the final game of his professional career. It was the last round and he also knew that he was already the winner of the tournament, independent of the outcome of this game. If you listen to the videos in the multimedia section of CBM 106 you will understand how he felt and why he was unable to muster his usual determination in this game.
Topalov,Veselin - Kasparov,Garry, Linares (14), 10.03.2005 [Mueller,Karsten] 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Bc4 d6 5.d3 Be7 6.0–0 Nf6 7.Nh4 Nd4 8.g3 Bg4 9.f3 Be6 10.Bg5 Ng8 11.Bxe7 Nxe7 12.f4 exf4 13.Bxe6 fxe6 14.Rxf4 Kd7 15.Nf3 Rf8 16.Rxf8 Qxf8 17.Nxd4 cxd4 18.Ne2 Qf6 19.c3 Rf8 20.Nxd4 Nc6 21.Qf1.
21...Qxf1+?? When exchanging into pawn endings, great care is always needed. There were two ways to achieve equality: 21...Nxd4 22.Qxf6 Rxf6 23.cxd4 Rf3 24.Rd1 (24.Rf1 Rxd3 25.Rf7+ Kc6) 24...g5 25.Kg2 g4=; 21...Qd8 22.Nf3 Qb6+ 23.d4 Qxb2 24.Rb1 Qxc3 25.Rxb7+ Ke8=
22.Rxf1 Rxf1+ 23.Kxf1 Nxd4 24.cxd4 d5? Opens paths for White on the kingside. It would have been better to leave the pawn on d6, in which case I am uncertain whether White can win at all. 25.Kf2 Ke7 26.Kf3 Kf6.
27.h4? Throws away important reserve tempi. 27.Kg4 h6 28.h3 g6 29.h4 Kf7 30.h5 Kf6 (30...gxh5+ 31.Kxh5 Kg7 32.g4+-; 30...g5 31.exd5 exd5 32.Kf5+-) 31.hxg6 Kxg6 32.Kf4 Kf6 33.g4 b6 34.b3 a6 35.a3 a5 36.a4 Kg6 37.Ke5 Kg5 38.Kxe6 Kxg4 39.exd5 h5 40.d6 h4 41.d7 h3 42.d8Q+–
27...g6? Kasparov reciprocates immediately. 27...h6 was necessary: 28.Kg4 (28.Kf4 g5+ 29.Kf3 Kf7 30.Kg4 Kg6=; 28.h5 Kg5 29.g4 b5 30.b4 g6 31.hxg6 Kxg6 32.Kf4 Kf6=) 28...g6 29.Kf4 g5+ 30.hxg5+ hxg5+ 31.Kg4 Kg6=.
28.b4 b5 29.Kf4 h6. 29...h5 30.g4 hxg4 31.Kxg4 Kg7 32.Kg5 Kf7 33.Kh6 Kf6 34.e5+ Kf5 35.Kg7 g5 36.hxg5 Kxg5 37.Kf7 Kf5 38.Ke7+–
30.Kg4. 30.Kg4 h5+ (30...g5 31.hxg5+ hxg5 32.Kh5+-; 30...Kf7 31.h5+–) 31.Kf4+–. 1–0.
"Hanging Pawns” is the subject of GM Peter Wells’ mini-series, of which we saw the first part in the previous issue of ChessBase Magazine. He continues his lesson with the following themes:
- Key breaks for use against the Hanging Pawns;
- A note on the ‘Isolated Pawn Couple’;
- Modifications to the ‘defender’s pawn structure;
- The e- and f-pawns as Hanging Pawns;
- The d-and e-pawns – the ‘Hanging Pawn Centre’.
GM Valery Atlas writes: "Divide et impera (divide and conquer) was the preferred strategy of the Roman emperors. Many tactical examples in the tactics database illustrate this famous ancient principle. Divide and conquer the opponent’s forces in your games!”
Johannes Fischer writes about the great Rudolf Spielmann, whose life was a mirror to the history of his times. "Small and fat,” writes J. Fischer, "a lifelong bachelor who came from Vienna and who liked his beer, he was one of the best chess players in the world for several decades.” The attached database contains six games, annotated in German.
The database "106 Demo” contains descriptions of our new products: Garry Kasparov’s "How to play the Najdorf - Vol. 1” (Chess Media Format); Andrew Martin’s "ABC of Chess Openings” (Chess Media Format); Eva Moser/Thomas Luther: "Die große Eröffnungsschule (Chess Media Format, German); Henrik Schlößner: "Test your chess” (ChessBase-Format); Dmitry Oleinikov: "Budapest Gambit 2nd edition” (ChessBase-Format).
Part two on the theory articles coming soon
To access theory databases you must open the folder "Theory” by double-clicking it. You can also click on the links in the navigation report of the main database (pictured on the left). You will find nine openings articles in this issue of ChessBase Magazine.
This article by GM Zoltan Ribli deals with the position that arises after the moves 1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.b3 c5 7.Bb2 Nc6 8.e3 d4 9.exd4 cxd4 10.Re1 Ne8 11.d3 f6 12.Na3 e5 13.Nc2 Nc7
The position in the diagram resembles a Benoni Defence, but with reversed colours – Black has a space advantage in the centre, but in some variations White can blow the position open with a3-b4 or after the f3-knight move, Black must also reckon with f2-f4. With his c7-knight - after a previous a7-a5 - Black can occupy the c5-square and later prepare the central breakthrough f5-e4. Here, the most frequently played move is 14.a3; other moves frequently transpose later to the variations arising after 14.a3. At the end, Ribli analysed 14.Nh4. His conclusion: "In my opinion, the whole variation offers sustained play to both players, with dynamically level chances on account of the asymmetrical character of the variation. Usually Black has good equalising chances in all lines, but after 14.Nh4 he has some problems. I am quite certain that in future tournaments we shall find further examples of this subject.”
The attached database contains 23 games, of which 21 have been annotated for this article by the author.
A45 – Trompowsky
The initial position of the database and the article arises after the following opening moves: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.f3 Qa5+ 5.c3 Nf6 6.d5 Qb6 7.Bc1 e6 8.c4
The author, GM Evgeny Postny of Israel, notes that the above position can also arise after White’s seventh move, namely: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.d5 Qb6 5.Bc1 e6 6.f3 Nf6 7.c4. In this article he uses the first order of moves, but in the games that appear in this article both will be encountered. The reader should not be confused by the apparent discrepancy.
Postny writes: "The opening play from both sides can puzzle the inexperienced reader. White has made three moves with his dark-squared bishop and returned it to its initial square. Black has lost a few tempi as well with his knight and queen. It seems as if both sides have "forgotten” the basic rules of opening development!
Despite the clear downsides, we can also find some advantages to the strategies of both sides. White has an obvious space advantage, which he will try to increase by the push e2-e4. Black, on the other hand, has a temporary development advantage and he will try to develop around the white centre, playing mainly on the black squares which are already weakened by White’s many pawn moves.
Basically, the Trompowsky opening has the reputation of a surprise weapon, therefore it does not occur frequently at the very top level. However, there are several GMs who use this opening on a regular basis as White, such as J. Hodgson, R. Knaak and A. Stefanova. Following Hodgson’s successes in this variation, many other English players have adopted the line.
Conclusion: The Trompowsky remains a dangerous weapon against serious theoreticians, since it leads to many original and unexplored positions. The line with the pawn sacrifice 9...c4 remains a critical one and should attract more and more fans of creative chess. The minimal amount of draws is the best proof of that. We will definitely see plenty of exciting games in this variation in the future.”
There are 79 selected games in this database. Eight games were drawn, 39 were won by White and 32 by Black. As can be noticed from the statistics, the percentage of draws is very low, which means that the resulting positions in this opening variation are extremely sharp and double-edged. 15 games are annotated by the author especially for this database. There are several games annotated by other ChessBase experts included as well.
A69 – Modern Benoni
This article on the Three Pawns Attack is by Jerzy Konikowski of Dortmund, Germany. It starts with the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.f4 Bg7 8.Nf3 0-0 9.Be2 Re8 10.e5 dxe5 11.fxe5 Ng4 12.Bg5 f6.
Black does not wish to lose any time on the variations 12...Qb6 (main line) and 12...Qa5 and at once exchanges the pawn on e5. But in doing so, he clearly weakens the position of his king.
13.exf6 Bxf6 15.Qd2! This is the best for White: it supports the Bg5 and threatens 15.h3. An interesting continuation, but one that has not been fully researched, is 15.Bxf6!? Qxf6 16.0-0 Ne3 with an exchange sacrifice. After the text move, Black has two main possibilities at his disposal: 13...Bxg5 and 13...Bf5, which however leads to better chances for White.
Konikowski’s conclusion: White has better prospects after 12...f6. Thus this variation cannot be recommended to Black. The attached database contains eight surveys and 25 games, all annotated by the author.
B01 – Scandinavian Defence
This article by GM Eric Prie is long and very instructive. It deals with the moves 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5, after which Prie writes: As usual, the 14th FIDE World champion Alexander Khalifman has made a great job covering this move in the third volume of his series "Opening for White according to Anand”, except, surprisingly, in the main line after White’s tenth move. Most of the variations and judgements given in preliminaries to this subject are his, and except for minor exceptions, I fully agree with him.
3.Nc3 Qa5. I disagree with GM Sergei Tiviakov when he writes in the latest NIC yearbook (74), in his provocative article entitled "A series of simple moves suffices”: ‘The author believes that 3...Qd6 and 3...Qd8 promise Black more chances to get a playable position’.
4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3. Unlike GM Wahls, I never was an advocate of the ‘Königsspringerzurückhaltungspolitik’ (‘the policy of holding back the king’s knight’). In some sharp and interesting lines for White I need my N on f6, e.g. to play 5...Bg4 after 5.Bc4 (instead of 5.Nf3) or even after 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.d3 (Nigel Short) 5...Bg4.
5...Bf5 6.Bc4 c6 7.Bd2 e6 8.Nd5 Qd8 9.Nxf6+ Qxf6.
Like me, most Scandinavian players believe that it is an improved Caro-Kann where White was even not given the choice of opting for the advance variation 3.e5. What they like is this structure and show reluctance, apart from well defined dynamic cases, to play with the doubled f-pawns. I agree that the idea 8.Nd5 is critical first of all because it exchanges the ‘good’ Nf6 which was controlling some interesting squares in the centre against the ‘worse’ Nc3 which, unlike in the Caro-Kann main lines, was hampering the use of the c-pawn by White.
If I had to recapture with 9...gxf6, which if Tiviakov is right could be the only move to get a playable position, then I would be distinctly less enthusiastic about Black’s game, so much so that I would feel like giving up the opening! Indeed, in spite of the highly tactical character of some continuations, the c6-Bf5 Scandinavian has to be ranked among the ‘static’ defences against the king pawn, to employ GM Iossif Dorfman’s terminology. In the middle term, it means that if White plays passively, without clear ideas of what to do, then Black will harmoniously catch up in development obtaining comfortable play with all his pieces on good squares. By way of reaction, White has to play ‘dynamically’ that is to say try to profit from his advance in development to keep the initiative, basically using short term themes against the Black queen and/or his queen’s bishop.
The recapture with the g-pawn - compromising the structure and potentially leading to a clear ending disadvantage - does not fit in with Black’s philosophy. Playing dynamically right from the beginning of the game gives me the impression of ‘putting all my eggs in the same basket’. At least, it is not the way I understand or like to play chess.
10.Qe2!! I took up the Scandinavian in 1991. I mean THE Scandinavian, the real and only one with 3...Qa5, not the feeble ‘substitutes’ given in the introduction, where White can either make immediate use of his c-pawn or hinder the successful development of Black’s light-squared bishop outside of the pawn chain. Very soon I had to give up the agressive Nf6 plus Nc6-system when the refutation (see above) was found and adopted to the c6-Bf5 set up with which I became a Grandmaster and champion of France in 1995. It was the golden age of the variation. Everybody was playing it, even at the highest level under the impulse of GM Matthias Wahls and others. Then came Shirov,A-Salov,V, 1-0, Madrid 1997, and things were never going to be the same again...
You can read the rest of the article and replay the game on your computer screen. Eric Prie comes to the following conclusion: "In practice so far, after 14...0-0-0 15.Be4 Qe5! Black has actually achieved a ‘playable’ position although, as you may have noticed, he has not won many games with it... The fact that Shirov’s idea is now so well known and spread even amongst ‘modest’ elo bearers makes it a real problem if Black, after having duly equalized, is playing for a win. In other terms, White can opt for this line as it reduces to a minimum his risk of losing.”
The attached database contains 170 games, 39 with annotations by the author and ten with analysis by other experts.
B06 – Pirc Defence 4.f4
The variation which has been analysed by GM Sergey Erenburg, starts with the opening moves 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.f4 c6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Be3 Qb6 7.Qd2 Bxf3 8.gxf3.
This opening variation was developed in the mid-60s, and the above position appeared for the first time in Pavlov,M-Czerniak,M, 0-1, which was played at Bucharest in 1966. The main protagonists of this variation for the black side are the German GM Joerg Hickl and the Yugoslavian GM Miodrag Todorcevic. The resulting position is extremely complicated. Black has solved the problem of developing his light-squared bishop by trading it for White’s knight and spoiled the opponent’s pawn structure. On the other hand, White has got the pair of bishops and the open g-file at his disposal. We’ll see that both sides have a lot of plans and ideas in this position.
There are 101 selected games in this database, 23 of them annotated by the author. Also included are several games annotated by other contributors. This database includes almost all fresh practical material up to April 2005. Furthermore, there is an opening key, especially developed for this database.
Statistics for the database: Out of 101 games White won 52 games = 51%, 22 games were drawn = 23%, Black won 27 games = 26%. Average rating of White players is 2409, performance= 2506. Average rating of Black players is 2419, performance= 2314. As can be seen from the statistics, White has quite an obvious advantage.
The conclusion drawn by GM Erenburg: "This variation is very good for a ‘must-win situation’, especially for the black side. The resulting clash of ideas has led to many original and unexplored positions. Objectively speaking, though, Black has quite serious problems in this line. The main line 8...Nd7 9.0-0-0 Qa5 10.Kb1 b5 11.h4 Nb6 leads to a very pleasant position for White after 11.h5!. I would recommend the second players to pay attention to the game Mainka,R-Hickl,J 0-1, where Black obtained a good position.”
B22 – Sicilian Alapin
The basic position of the variation, which GM Dorian Rogozenko has analysed, arises after the moves 1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Be3 cxd4 7.cxd4 Bb4+
This variation was met for the first time back in 1942, in the game Yudovich,M-Kotov,A 0-1. The diagram position started to appear regularly in tournament practice only in the 1990s. We have a rare case when for many decades a theoretically important game remained unnoticed by opening theory. More surprising is that even in the modern theoretical sources the variation 7...Bb4+ is mentioned only briefly (if at all).
Nevertheless in the past few years the move 7...Bb4+ has scored well for Black and therefore constantly gained in popularity. As a result nowadays the variation represents one of the main options against the Sicilian Alapin in the line with ...e6. GMs like Krasenkow, Sutovsky, Ehlvest, Portisch, Najer, Kempinski and others have included the check on b4 in their opening repertoire. Even the Slovenian GM Pavasovic, who is one of the biggest Alapin experts on the White side, has played 7...Bb4+.
The reasons why 7...Bb4+ was not popular in the past and even now is generally neglected by theory can be explained by the fact that at the first sight the bishop check does not look particularly logical. White would like to develop the knight on c3 anyway and it is very likely that at some moment Black will have to take on c3, improving his opponent’s pawn structure. However, as we’ll see there are certain merits for the second player as well.
First of all the structural change of IQP (isolated queen pawn) into the central pawn pair (here after ...Bxc3, bxc3) represents one of the standard methods to fight against the IQP. The pawn from b2 comes to the open c-file and becomes a target for the black rooks.
Secondly, every exchange of pieces favours Black, who has a good pawn structure for the endgame. We’ll see that besides the trade of the bishop for the knight on c3, 7...Bb4+ is usually connected with the swap of the light-squared bishops as well.
Last but not least there is also a psychological aspect of giving a check on b4. The traditional main continuations 7...Be7 and 7...Nc6 proved to lead to a highly complicated middlegame, with a typical initiative for White. Although both 7...Be7 and 7...Nc6 are perfectly playable moves, not all players with Black are happy with the resulting standard IQP type of position. On the other side the Sicilian Alapin aficionados usually enjoy playing such positions with White.
Altogether these considerations make 7...Bb4 an important (and even attractive) option for Black which therefore deserves to be examined more carefully.
The conclusion GM Rogozenko comes to at the end of his article: "In the present variation, Black’s main task is usually to exchange light-squared bishops and then play against White’s central pawn pair c4 and d4. The resulting positions are approximately equal, although I believe some players prefer White and some are happy to play with Black.
The first player has different ideas to try on the queenside (by advancing the a-pawn) and also on the kingside (by advancing the f-pawn. The position offers many fighting resources, for instance, should he wish, White can even create an attack out of almost nothing.
Apart from this typical pawn formation with light-squared bishops off the board, both sides have the possibility to play a slightly different type of position. White can avoid the trade of light squared bishops by playing 9.Be2 after 8...0-0, or 9.a3 after 8...Bd7, while by playing 8...Qa5 Black can choose to play against the IQP.”
The database provided with the article contains 69 games, 29 of which have been annotated by the author.
C12 – French Defence, McCutcheon variation
This article by GM Alexander Finkel of Israel starts with the position after 1.e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Bb4 5.e5 h6 6.Be3!?
The McCutcheon Variation is in itself one of the most exciting lines in the French Defence, leading to a very complicated and sharp struggle with mutual chances. However, if White is willing to take risks and looking for a possibility to spice things up, 6.Be3 is the perfect choice. This cunning move was introduced into practice by one of the most creative attacking players of his time – Rudolf Spielmann. The idea behind 6.Be3 is simple and logical: White wants to keep his bishop on the board and is ready to sacrifice a pawn on c3 to let it happen.
"For some reason,” writes the author, "this promising line is not a very popular one at the top level, even though I believe that White has at least as good chances to get an opening advantage after 6.Be3 as he does in the main lines. The statistics for this database seem to support my opinion.”
- Total number of games = 107
- White won 51 games = 47%,
- 30 games were drawn = 29%,
- Black won 26 games = 24%
- Average rating of White players = 2479, performance = 2550;
Average rating of Black players = 2454, performance = 2385.
GM Finkel has put together all chess material he found on this variation, and tries to point out the most promising lines for both sides. The content of the database:
- 107 games played in this line. On the white side, you will find such strong players as Svidler, Shirov, Hracek, Fressinet, Bruzon, Smirnov and many others who use this tricky variation from time to time. On the black side, you will find quite a few strong grandmasters as well: Volkov, Glek, Vaisser, Vysochin, Brynell and others.
- 34 annotated games (20 of them especially for this database).
- Very deep opening key designed specially for the database, to make the learning process easier and more efficient.
C40 – The Elephant Gambit
In Part 4 of this series Peter Leisebein of Leipzig, Germany comes to the line he calls the "Maroczy Variation”: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 Bd6.
The author writes: With one of his two "elephants” Black first of all protects the e5-pawn, which is under attack. This seems to be a waste of time, but can often lead to the bishop targeting White’s king position after the advance of the e-pawn! I have baptised this line the Maroczy Variation because the Hungarian GM Maroczy often played it.
Black’s strongest "elephant” is developed on to a good square and protects the pawn on e5. Now White must decide how he intends to play. There are various possibilities for White to meet Black’s gambit:
1st line: 4.d4!
2nd line: 4.Bb5+!?
3rd line: various white moves
The move 4.d4! is not only the most logical and the strongest move, it is also the most often played! 4…e4 5.Ne5. This position is discussed in the book on the Elephant Gambit by Konikovski and Gupta on page 14. Their opinion is that now 5...Nf6 is weak, since after the pinning of the knight Black gets doubled pawns. Instead of that, the move 5...Ne7?! is recommended by E.J. Diemer, as it avoids the deterioration of the pawn structure we have mentioned.
I would like to take issue with this statement, because this odd knight move is too passive and White clearly obtains the better chances! Diemer had his successes with it, but probably only because he happened to be "Diemer”! Otherwise, the knight on e7 only prevents the co-ordination of Black’s pieces and neglects all influence on the centre.
The stronger move 5...Nf6!? appears only as a sub-variation in the book; but it absolutely must be revalued! On an analyst’s "dissecting slab” an advantage may well be discovered for White, but Black has a range of tactical possibilities. The apparently weak doubled pawns on the f-file turn out to be very useful. The f-pawn advances to f5 and strengthens Black’s advanced e-pawn. The king moves to h8 and makes room for the rook. This rook on the semi-open g-file puts the white kingside under unpleasant pressure.
In the next but one edition (CBM 108) of the magazine, we shall take a look at the bishop check on b5!
D43 – Semi Slav: The Anti-Moscow variation
GM Boris Avrukh examines the position which arises after the following moves: 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.h4 g4 11.Ne5 h5 12.0-0 Nbd7
It’s important to mention that White has a very interesting alternative: instead of 12.0-0 he can continue with 12.f3, trying immediately to open the f-file. The resulting position has become popular only recently after the white successes in the Botvinnik Variation (7...b5). The responsibility for this popularity lies exclusively with Alexey Dreev, who has introduced a lot of interesting ideas for Black. The position after 12...Nbd7 is actually the "main tabya” of the Anti-Moscow variation, which promises a very complex battle with mutual chances. White has a very strong centre and development advantage, while Black keeps the extra pawn and it’s not so easy for White to open files. Several strong grandmasters have adopted this line for Black on a regular basis, such as Novikov, Asrian and Kobalija.
There are 55 selected games in this database with 31 commented games, 17 of them annotated by the author especially for this article. This database contains almost all recent practical material - up to May 2005. Also, there is an opening key, especially developed for the current database.
At the end of his analysis he comes to the conclusion: "There are no doubts that this variation promises an extremely complicated battle with mutual chances. So far, Black is doing all right in the main line after 15.Rad1, while with 15.Bg3 he faces some problems after the game Khalifman-Kobalija 2005. There is still a great amount of scope for individual research of the resulting positions in this variation, and we will definitely see plenty of exciting games on this topic in the near future.”