Opening Novelties
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In June, we witnessed some interesting opening novelties that we can’t help but lower our magnifying glasses on.

Last month, we had a look at Opening Novelties in May where we looked at some instructive games from the FIDE candidates tournament 2020.

This month, we will be analyzing games from Grand Chess Tour June 2021, The Prague Festival Masters, and Gelfand Challenge 2021.

  1. Caruana vs Wesley So, Grand Chess Tour, Paris Rapid and Blitz : Opening Novelties at Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. 0-0 Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5 Be7 7. Bf1 Nxe5 8. Rxe5 0-0 9. d4 Bf6 10. Re1 Re8 11. Nc3 Rxe1 12. Qxe1 Bxd4 13. Bf4 Ne8! 14. Nd5 d6 15. Bg5 f6 16. Bh4 g5 17. Qe4 Bxb2 18. Rb1N (18. Re1! had been played before in Guseinov-Georgiadis Batumi 2019) 

  This novelty would probably warrant questions like: “Why would the 2018 World Chess Championship challenger play this move? Doesn’t that move lose tempo? Why do we call that move a novelty? 

Rather than playing the expected Re1 which snatches initiative and puts pressure on the knight on e8 with limited good squares for escape from the battery on the e-file, 2018 World Chess Championship challenger Fabiano Caruana, plays Rb1 instead.

Caruana knows that this move applies pressure on the bishop. He succeeded in cramping and capturing the bishop and didn’t mind losing his Bishop in exchange because he would create some weak lone pawns on the h-file for his opponent. His aim to eventually capture the b7 pawn was accomplished, but the engine noted this move as a mistake. Capturing the b6 pawn made white lose the tempo and eventually the game, from what was a good novelty on move 18. 

This is the whole game.

Opening Novelties #1

[Event “GCT Rapid Paris 2021”] [White “Caruana, Fabiano”] [Black “So, Wesley”] [Result “0-1”] [WhiteElo “2820”] [BlackElo “2770”] [Opening “Ruy Lopez”] [Variation “Berlin defence, open variation”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5 Be7 7. Bf1 Nxe5 8.
Rxe5 O-O 9. d4 Bf6 10. Re1 Re8 11. Nc3 Rxe1 12. Qxe1 Bxd4 13. Bf4 Ne8 14. Nd5 d6
15. Bg5 f6 16. Bh4 g5 17. Qe4 Bxb2 18. Rb1N Be5 19. f4 gxh4 20. fxe5 dxe5 21. Bc4
Be6 22. Rxb7 Kh8 23. Bd3 Bg8 24. Nxc7 Nd6 25. Qxh4 Nxb7 26. Nxa8 Nc5 27. Bf5 e4
28. h3 Qd4+ 29. Kh1 Qa1+ 0-1

 

 2. Duda vs Navara, Prague Festival Masters : Opening Novelties at Four Knights Opening

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. Nc3 Qe7 7. h3 a5N (7 … h6 had been played before in Grischuk-Firouzja Lichess INT 2020)

 Why does Navara opt for a move that seems attacking rather than a prophylactic h6? 

 

The c1-g5 diagonal is observed in the opening. This is to prevent unwanted pins that would either paralyze a piece (most likely a knight) or upset the pawn structure.

The novelty move 7 … a5N is a move that threatens to open up the queenside, get a passed pawn along with one of the files and try to force promotion. The Czech number #1 attacking idea would have paid off, but he just couldn’t fill in the loopholes against a player that ended the World Champion’s unbeaten streak.

This is the whole game.

Opening Novelties #2

[Event “3rd Prague Masters 2021”] [Site “Prague CZE”] [White “Duda, Jan-Krzysztof”] [Black “Navara, David”] [Result “1-0”] [WhiteElo “2729”] [BlackElo “2697”] [Opening “Ruy Lopez”] [Variation “Berlin defence”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. Nc3 Qe7 7. h3 a5N 8. Bg5
a4 9. a3 O-O 10. Bh4 Re8 11. Qe2 b5 12. Nd1 Qd6 13. g4 Nd7 14. Ne3 Bxe3 15. Qxe3
c5 16. Bg3 Nf8 17. Nh4 Qd4 18. Qxd4 cxd4 19. f4 exf4 20. Bxf4 Ra6 21. Bxc7 Rc6
22. Bg3 Rxc2 23. Rh2 Rc6 24. Kd2 Ne6 25. Nf5 Ba6 26. Bd6 Kh8 27. Bb4 Rec8 28.
Kd1 Nc5 29. Ne7 Nb3 30. Nxc6 Nxa1 31. Nxd4 Rd8 32. Bc3 b4 33. axb4 Bxd3 34. Rd2
Bxe4 35. Nf5 Re8 36. Rd7 Bf3+ 37. Kc1 Nb3+ 38. Kb1 Bc6 39. Rxf7 Be4+ 40. Ka2 Nd4
41. Rxg7 Bd5+ 42. Ka3 Nb5+ 43. Kxa4 Bc6 44. Ka5 Nxc3 45. bxc3 Bg2 46. Re7 Ra8+
47. Kb6 Bxh3 48. Ne3 Rc8 49. c4 Bxg4 50. Nxg4 Rxc4 51. Nf6 Rxb4+ 52. Kc6 Rh4 53.
Kd7 Rh1 54. Ke8 Ra1 55. Rxh7# 1-0

 

3. Yip vs V. Keymer, Gelfand Challenge: Opening Novelties at English Opening

  1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 c6 3. Bg2 Bg4 4. c4 e6 5. 0-0 Nd7 6. cxd5 exd5 7. d3 Bc5 8. h3 Bh5 9. Qc2 Ne7 10. e4 0-0 11. Nc3 Bb6 12. Bg5N (12. b3 had been played before in Velikov-Mohandesi France 2005)

 

To weaken pawn structure or to fianchetto? Why did Woman Grandmaster Yip prefer Bg5 over the expected b3 on move 12?

This move aims to force the pawn to f6. Occupying the square with a pawn means that the knight on d7 has limited squares to develop instantly and might have to do some manoeuvring to get to a better position.

Playing 12. b3 for a fianchetto might not have proved effective following the control of the centre by black pawns to create a closed game. A closed game could not have presented as much advantage as she had at move 16. This was when white seemed to have major control of the game because the American WGM had successfully managed to retreat her opponent’s pieces but trading off a central knight with no real threat hindered her ability to convert this good position which saw white fall to a defeat. 

This is the whole game.

Opening Novelties #3

[Event “Gelfand Challenge 2021”] [White “Yip, Carissa”] [Black “Keymer, Vincent”] [Result “0-1”] [WhiteElo “2430”] [BlackElo “2591”] [Opening “Reti”] [Variation “King’s Indian attack (Barcza system)”]

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 c6 3. Bg2 Bg4 4. c4 e6 5. O-O Nd7 6. cxd5 exd5 7. d3 Bc5 8. h3
Bh5 9. Qc2 Ne7 10. e4 O-O 11. Nc3 Bb6 12. Bg5 f6 13. Bd2 Bf7 14. Rfe1 Rc8 15. d4
dxe4 16. Nxe4 Bc7 17. Bb4 Re8 18. Nd6 Bxd6 19. Bxd6 Nb6 20. Bc5 Qd7 21. Nd2 Nf5
22. Be4 Bg6 23. Rad1 Nd5 24. Nc4 b6 25. Ba3 b5 26. h4 Rxe4 27. Qxe4 Nfe3 28. Qf3
Nxc4 0-1.

4. Nguyen vs R. Wojtaszek, Prague Festival Masters: Opening Novelties at Queen’s Gambit Declined

  1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 0-0 8. e3 Bf5 9. Qb3 Bxc3+ 10. bxc3 Nbd7 11. Be2 c5 12. dxc5 g5 13. Bg3 Nxc5 14. Qb4 Qe7 15. 0-0 Nfe4 16. Rad1 Rfd8 17. c4 cxd4 18. Bxc4 Rxd1 19. Rxd1 Be6N (19 … Rd8 had been played before in Grischuk-So chess.com INT 2020) 

Many players would rather develop their rooks with the slightest chance they have, but GM Wojtaszek had other ideas. Why is this move a novelty? 

Nguyen-Wojtaszek was not a game with a lot of action, but our major interest is why white played 19 … Be6N instead of the book move 19 … Rd8.

Developing the rook and requesting an exchange in this position is a good way to seize control of the cent centre the queen. Black chose to maintain neutrality by inviting a bishop exchange. This would lead to a series of exchanges to simplify the game.

This game would have proceeded with a slight positional advantage for black that might just be convertible with the right moves, but a draw was agreed at move 30. Of course, one would be tempted to claim a draw against a player who is over a hundred Elo rating above him.

This is the whole game. 

Opening Novelties #4

[Event “3rd Prague Masters 2021”] [White “Nguyen, Thai Dai Van”] [Black “Wojtaszek, Radoslaw”] [Result “1/2-1/2”] [WhiteElo “2577”] [BlackElo “2687”] [Variation “Ragozin variation”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 O-O 8. e3
Bf5 9. Qb3 Bxc3+ 10. bxc3 Nbd7 11. Be2 c5 12. dxc5 g5 13. Bg3 Nxc5 14. Qb4 Qe7
15. O-O Nfe4 16. Rad1 Rfd8 17. c4 dxc4 18. Bxc4 Rxd1 19. Rxd1 Be6 20. Bxe6 Qxe6
21. Qa3 g4 22. Nd4 Qd5 23. f3 gxf3 24. gxf3 Nxg3 25. hxg3 Ne6 26. Kg2 Rc8 27.
Qb3 Qxb3 28. Nxb3 a5 29. Nxa5 Rc2+ 30. Kh3 b6 1/2-1/2

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