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Executing the Exchange French

March 17th, 2015 31 comments

Playing for a win against the Exchange Variation is a challenge that every French player will face at some point. In Grandmaster Repertoire 16 – The French Defence Volume Three, where appropriate Emanuel Berg advocates long castling for Black, followed by a kingside attack . His coverage of this plan improves significantly over the work of other authors, especially when it comes to identifying certain positions and moves orders where Black should NOT castle on the queenside.

Here is a shortened version of Emanuel’s analysis of a line where Black’s aggressive strategy works perfectly.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Bd6 5.Bd3

Obviously White has several options on moves 4 and 5, all of which are discussed in the book.

5…Nc6 6.0–0 Nge7 7.c3 Bg4

Although Black’s last move hints at long castling, Emanuel makes it clear that Black should wait to see what White does over the next few moves before committing his king. If he opts for queenside castling at the wrong time, he could find himself clearly worse. Another important point is that …0–0 should not be played too quickly due to the Bxh7† trick.

8.Bg5

This is quite a popular move, which has the idea of going to g3 to exchange Black’s ‘good’ bishop.

8…f6 9.Bh4 Qd7 10.Nbd2

10.Bg3 Bxg3 more or less forces 11.fxg3, with a probable transposition to the next note. Instead 11.hxg3? h5! is a typical scenario where Black gets a strong attack.

10…0–0–0 11.b4

Emanuel also shows that 11.Bg3 Bxg3 12.fxg3 (12.hxg3? h5! is, once again, far too dangerous) 12…Nf5 is promising for Black, and offers an improvement over one of his own games a few moves down the line.

11…Nf5 12.Bg3 Nxg3 13.hxg3

13.fxg3 Rde8 14.Qc2 Kb8 15.a4 occurred in Elbasuny – Amin, Amman 2006, and now Emanuel gives the improvement 15…Ne7!N, intending …Nf5 and/or …h5, with good attacking chances.

13…h5!

Watson recommends 13…Ne7 intending …h5, but Emanuel points out that pushing the h-pawn should be the top priority, as Black may be able to do without the knight move.

14.Qb3 h4!N

Proving the above point.

15.gxh4

15.Nxh4 is met by 15…Ne7 intending …g5, when the opening of the h-file will prove disastrous for White.

15…g5!

Black succeeds in opening up the kingside, giving him a clear headstart in the attacking race.

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1.d4 1A – A Preview of Avrukh’s New Grandmaster Repertoire

March 2nd, 2015 22 comments

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3

This is the starting position for Boris Avrukh’s new volume: Grandmaster Repertoire 1A – The Catalan. The title is slightly misleading, as the book also covers the Bogo-Indian and Benoni systems that can occur via this move order. However, we decided to mention the Catalan in the title as it receives the lion’s share of the coverage. The purpose of this short post is to give you a few brief examples of what you can expect to see in the book. Some recommendations have stayed broadly the same (while still being updated and improved of course), but there are several important variations where Boris has gone in a completely different direction.

Let’s start with the Benoni.

3…c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Bg2 Bg7 8.Nf3 0–0 9.0–0 Re8
9…a6 10.a4 leads to the same sort of stuff.

10.Bf4
Previously Boris recommended 10.Nd2 a6 11.a4 Nbd7 12.h3 Rb8 13.Nc4 Ne5 14.Na3, but a problem line has emerged in the form of 14…Nh5 15.e4 Bd7 16.a5 b5 17.axb6 Bb5!. Marian Petrov was right on the money when he recommended this for Black in Grandmaster Repertoire 12 – The Modern Benoni.

10…a6
10…Ne4 11.Nxe4 Rxe4 12.Nd2 is another option, when the different placement of the a-pawns changes some details.

11.a4 Ne4 12.Nxe4 Rxe4 13.Nd2
Boris has plenty of ideas in this well-known line.

And next, the Catalan… Read more…

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The French Fist of Fury

February 18th, 2015 27 comments

Ian Snape (2135) – Andrew Greet (2450)
4NCL, 14.02.2015

My opponent is not so highly rated, but he used to be in the high 2200s and in our previous meeting I was on the rough side of a draw. This time, however, I had Playing the French to help me…

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 b5 9.dxc5 Bxc5

10.Ne2

In one previous game my opponent played 10.Bxc5 Nxc5 11.0–0–0, which seems rather risky. 11…Qb6 12.Bd3 b4 13.Ne2 a5 14.Ned4 was Snape – Shepherd, Coulsdon 2013, and now after 14…Nxd4 15.Nxd4 0–0 Black’s attack is further advanced.

I also saw that Snape has played the text move on two previous occasions, but neither of his opponents chose the most accurate continuation at move 12 below.

10…Qb6 11.Bxc5 Nxc5 12.Ned4 Bd7!

12…Nxd4 13.Nxd4 Bd7 is fully playable, but the text move is more flexible, as explained in “Playing the French”. Rather than hurry to exchange knights, I’ll let my opponent do it and develop my bishop in the process.

Read more…

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Testing a Negi Recommendation

February 3rd, 2015 22 comments

Andrew Greet (2454) – Adam Hunt (2437)
4NCL 10.01.2015

Adam Hunt has always been a tough opponent for me. I lost to him several times as a kid, drew some games here and there, but had never beaten him. Our most recent clashes were in 2010, when I drew one game from a winning position and lost another in which he simply outplayed me. In short, I felt like I needed to do something different to break out of the cycle of bad results. It just so happens that Adam is a lifelong Najdorf player and, at the time when the game took place, I had not long finished editing Parimarjan Negi’s superb 1.e4 vs The Sicilian I against this very opening. Despite not having played against a Najdorf in well over a decade, and never having played 6.Bg5 in a serious game in my entire life, I decided this would be a good moment to roll the dice. To make matters more interesting, the book was not yet published and I didn’t have any of it saved on my laptop, so my preparation was based entirely on my memory of editing the book. Fortunately Parimarjan did an excellent job of explaining the most important ideas, so I felt like I would have reasonable chances to bluff my way through any unfamiliar territory.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0–0–0 Nbd7

My pre-game prep revealed that Adam had tried a few different lines against 6.Bg5, but the Three-Piece System (to use Negi’s terminology) had been his most frequent choice.

10.f5!?

Negi mainly focuses on the main line of 10.g4, in which he also has some excellent ideas for White. However, I decided to go for the text move, which is covered as a secondary option. I chose it partly for surprise value, and also because I was familiar with the main plans and knew I wouldn’t have to recall too many complicated variations.

Read more…

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Basque – Scotland match

December 3rd, 2014 No comments

A Scottish team travelled to Basque country at the weekend for an exhibition match. Here’s my second game from the match. The opening is of some interest, as I achieved the (almost) impossible feat of improving on an Avrukh recommendation from Grandmaster Repertoire 2. True, Boris’s move gives a clear advantage, and the whole variation should obviously be avoided by Black, but it still feels like an achievement.

Andrew Greet (2442) – Inogo Argandone Riveiro (2415)
Basque – Scotland match (2), 29.11.2014

1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 0–0 6.0–0 c6 7.Nc3 Qa5 8.e4 Qh5

Black has chosen a rather dubious variation.

9.Ng5!

As given by Boris. I could faintly recall his recommending this move instead of the more common 9.e5 dxe5 10.Nxe5, but did not remember any other details. Still, with a healthy space advantage and the queens off the board, the position is not difficult to handle.

9…Qxd1 10.Rxd1 Nbd7

Avrukh’s main line is 10…e5 11.d5 when White keeps a plus.

11.f4!

Seizing space in the centre. From a positional point of view this was an easy decision, but it was necessary to spend a bit of time calculating the consequences of Black’s next move.

11…c5?

This seems like a principled reaction, but it leads to far greater problems.

12.e5 cxd4 13.exf6 exf6

Read more…

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The Modern Tiger

November 26th, 2014 10 comments

Here’s a snippet from The Modern Tiger, which will be available soon. The position is taken from the new chapter covering the Pirc as a back-up weapon against the Austrian. The following position is reached in analysis. Can you find a strong continuation for Black?

Black to play

Read more…

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Playing 1.d4 according to Schandorff

November 11th, 2014 7 comments

First, a test position. Find the strongest continuation for White.

The solution can be found at move 24 of the game below.

Andrew Greet – Basil Laidlaw
Glasgow 2014

On encountering the Nimzo-Indian in this recent game, I decided to try out Lars Schandorff’s recommendation of 4.e3 followed by Ne2, even though I couldn’t remember too many of the fine details.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Ne2 c5 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.Nxc3 cxd4 8.exd4 d5

I spent a few minutes here, as I couldn’t remember any exact moves from this position, but I knew there was a similar variation where Black exchanged on c3 and played …d5xc4, leading to an IQP position. Then I realized I was thinking of the following line: 4…c5 5.Ne2 cxd4 6.exd4 d5 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.Nxc3 Now I remembered: Black usually exchanges with 8…dxc4 here, allowing a convenient 9.Bxc4 in one move. “There must be a reason why Black normally exchanges on c4 in that position”, I thought. Instead 8…0–0 would transpose to the game position. This led me to deduce that the best move must be:

9.c5

Read more…

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Negi against the Najdorf

November 7th, 2014 6 comments

Here’s a small preview of the next volume in Negi’s 1.e4 series, which you can either use as a “find the best move” exercise, or just follow for your own enjoyment. It comes from a line in the Poisoned Pawn.

Take a look at the following position, where Black has just answered 18.c2-c4 with 18…Qd5-c6, exploiting the pin on the white knight.

White has a big lead in development, but he is three pawns down, and must act quickly before Black organizes his defences. How would you proceed?

Read more…

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