One of those novelties of which the English say: “Don’t try this at home”. Black, of course, managed to play g7-g5 and even won the game, but for that you need the unique and original style and endurance of Boris Savchenko. Not something granted to all.
David, Alb - Battaglini, G
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 c5 5.g3 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Ne4 7.Qc2 Qa5 8.Bg2 Nxc3 9.O-O Nc6 10.bxc3 Bxc3 11.Nb3 Nd4 12.Nxd4 Bxd4 13.Rb1 Qc7 14.Rd1 Bc5 15.Rb5 O-O 16.Bf4 e5 17.Rxc5 Qxc5 18.Rd5
A slight improvement in a variation that’s coming into fashion. Something tells me it still doesn’t alter the overall evaluation of the position; White nevertheless enjoys positional pressure without any risk.
Hammer, J - Berg, E
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 O-O 6.Nf3 e5 7.Be3 exd4 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 c6 10.O-O d5 11.cxd5 cxd5 12.Qb3 Nc6 13.Rad1 Qa5 14.Qb5
Even the most established opening evaluations are now being tested out by new super-powerful engines. Since time immemorial the simplest move here has been considered to be 13…Qe7 with equality, but I suspect it isn’t quite so simple. If that’s the case, then this is a game it’s probably worth paying attention to.
Giri, A - Spoelman, W
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e6 4.e3 Nf6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Bd3 O-O 8.O-O dxc4 9.Bxc4 a6 10.Rd1 b5 11.Bd3 Qc7 12.Bd2 c5 13.Ne4 c4 14.Nxd6 Qxd6 15.Be2 Bb7 16.b3 Rfc8 17.bxc4 Be4 18.Qc3 bxc4 19.Qa5 Rab8
Strong chess players are distinguished by flexibility and an ability to work hard during tournaments. 8 rounds before this game L’Ami played 20. Rac1 here and didn’t get anything much. Switching on Houdini in timely fashion before the game was enough to improve White’s result by half a point.
Safarli, E - Kovchan, A
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.Bd2 Ngf6 12.O-O-O Be7 13.Ne4 Nxe4 14.Qxe4 Nf6 15.Qd3 c5
Thanks to Riazantsev’s efforts, the move 15…c5 had only just started to come into fashion, but now, it seems, it’s met a quick and adequate response. Again, I’m not sure that the move 16. Be3 is so lethal in terms of strength, but the attack that followed turned out to be swift and exhilarating.
5. I usually preface our discussion of the top-5 with a phrase about how difficult it is to get into it. But this time round the innovations mainly turned out to be rather modest.
Zhigalko, S - Safarli, E
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Ndb5 Bb4 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.Nxc3 d5 9.exd5 exd5 10.Bd3 O-O 11.O-O d4 12.Ne2 Qd5 13.Nf4 Qd6 14.Nh5 Nxh5 15.Qxh5 h6 16.Re1 Bd7
The variation seen in this game is again returning to grandmaster practice and, I’m sure, not for the last time, as after all the dream of making a comfortable draw with Black is eternal. It was largely due to this elegant rook move that the dream didn’t come true this time round.
Kobalia, M - Jojua, D
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 dxc4 7.Bxc4 h6 8.Bh4 Qxd4 9.Qxd4 Nxd4 10.O-O-O e5
But this is already getting interesting. White isn’t, of course, counting on a lot here, but there’s no danger whatsoever of losing – which means this is an opening branch we can expect to see a lot more of in future.
3. And now for the top-3. Only games in very topical variations managed to get into it.
Nielsen, PH - Atalik, S
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bd6 9.O-O O-O 10.Qc2 Bb7 11.a3 a5 12.e4 e5 13.dxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 15.h3 b4 16.Na4 Bd4 17.Re1 c5 18.Be3
After this, and a few more moves from the computer’s first line, it turned out to be extremely easy to equalise. I predict that will all have changed again in a week or two.
Nielsen, PH - Berzinsh, R
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 Nc6 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.d5 Ne5 6.Bf4 Ng6 7.Be3 e5 8.Bxc4 a6
It’s amazing that no-one had played this way before. In the game White’s plan worked like clockwork: provoking b7-b5, creating weaknesses and then exploiting them. It seems that in chess as well the simplest concepts turn out to be the most effective. It’s all a question of move order and execution.
Papaioannou, I - Nielsen, PH
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 e6 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Nbd2 dxc4 6.Bg2 b5 7.O-O O-O 8.a4 c6
And here’s a novelty that no true Catalan player, which means every second player with a rating of 2600 and above, should ignore. I seem to have been playing the Catalan for 15 years now, but I’ve never seen such an original arrangement. Original and strong. After all, the most interesting variations in this opening are connected to a pawn sacrifice, and this opens up boundless space for imagination.
On that note I’ll take my bow. Goodbye!
See you next Wednesday!
Top-10 Theoretical Novelties TWIC № 870