March 2021 – Opening Novelties

Opening Novelties

In this article, we would proceed with our series of opening novelties analyses for the month of March 2021. So far, we have already looked at lots of interesting games in the  January edition and 2nd January edition of opening novelties. We would continue from the February edition of opening novelties to carry out analyses on games from tournaments such as the Cerrado GM 16 Febrero 2021, Barcelona, ARM-ch Rapid 2021, Yerevan, and 1st FIDE OWCCCC Pools-East 2021 tournament.

1.Carlsen, Magnus – Zakharov, Alexander S.

What could be better than starting out with a game by the world champion, Magnus Carlsen where he slowly dominated his opponent and forced him to resign in a bad position.

In the position above, Carlsen played the excellent Bg5-f4 offering an exchange of bishops. If black exchanges on f4, then white gets to develop his e2-knight. The main idea is that the exchange of the dark-squared bishop weakens black's dark squares as white have ideas of playing b4 restricting the c5 pawn break and b5, forcing an exchange of pawns and weakening black's d5 pawn. Let's have a look at how the game continued:

Opening Novelties: First Game

2. Petrosyan, Manuel – Pashikian, Arman

This game between these two strong grandmasters featured deep strategical ideas and positional techniques. During the opening phase, white played the nice move 10. Nh4 attacking black's bishop with the option of placing the knight on f5 later. After the opening phase, black was stuck with an isolated pawn which white tried to take advantage of. The game was pretty equal till the 38th move where black fell for a nasty pin, and there he resigned.

The game can be found below:

Opening Novelties: Second Game


3. Perez Mitjans, Orelvis – Maze, Sebastien

For our last game in this edition of opening novelties, we would be looking at another game by two grandmasters where the two knights variation of the Caro-Kann was played.

The game ended in 33 moves after a terrible blunder by white in an equal position which immediately gave black the win.

1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Nxe4 6. Qxe4 Nd7 7. Bc4 Nf6  8. Ne5 e6  9. Qe2 b5
10. Bb3  Qc7 11. O-O Bd6 12. d4 O-O 13. c3 a5  14. Re1 a4 15. Bc2 Nd5!?

This seemingly innocent move made by the french GM is actually a very powerful one which was recommended by the computer engine. Evaluating the position, we can see that black's play is based on the queenside, and white's pieces, especially the bishop pair are staring menacingly at the black king.

On this note, black would love to go for an immediate pawn break  15…c5 trying to undermine white's pawn structure and to also get some activity on that side of the board. However, after black's c5, white can immediately play 16 Qd3 forcing black to play g6 either now later, which would inflict weak dark squares around the black king that could be exploited.

With black's 15… Nd5 first,  16. Qd3 would be met with 16… f5! where white's attack is temporarily halted and he now has to deal with black's plan. Besides f5, black also has ideas of playing f6 chasing the strong knight on e5. It's worth noting that that centralized knight on d5 delivered the second to the last blow later in the game, sacrificing the black queen and threatening a back rank mate.

Check out the game here.

Opening Novelties: Third Game

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