GM Laboratory: Opening Trends in 1.e4 e5 and 1.e4 e6 - Batumi Olympiad
In his newest database, GM Avrukh makes a detailed overview of all the lines in 1.e4 e5 and 1.e4 e6 (French Defence).
The author took for base all games played at the Chess Olympiad in Batumi.
This is the biggest chess event in the world and countless new ideas were shown there.
The reader has the unique chance to see how the novelties are dealt with in one of the most famous chess opening laboratories in the world - the one of the famous theoretician GM Boris Avrukh.
In the 27 chapters, you can find more than 100 novelties played in Batumi.
The author gives his opinion about each line. He introduces new ideas but also shows previous and important for the opening theory lines and variations.
This is not a repertoire database, but in each chapter, you will find guidelines, and suggestions about which lines are reliable and which are not. Besides, you can use the database as an opening map which shows you where the theory is going and on which variations you should concentrate your efforts.
Chapter 1 - Bishop’s Opening and the Vienna Game
In Vienna Game Black tried the topical 5…d5
White managed to come up with a strong novelty and improve on the previous games.
In Bishop’s Opening, there was a very interesting game in which Black went for 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 a5!?
Quite a popular move. White came up with a new idea and won the opening battle.
Chapter 2 – Petroff Defence 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6
Thanks to the efforts of Fabiano Caruana and the Chinese players, Petroff is quite fashionable nowadays.
GM Avrukh found some encounters in almost all critical variations. Many novelties and new ideas are revealed in this chapter.
The featured lines are:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Bf5!?
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nc4!?
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3
For the moment it seems that Black is doing quite well practically everywhere.
Chapter 3 - Four Knight Defence
The latest fashion in this opening is the line 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Bc5!?
Avrukh found an exciting game and explained the critical moments of the current theory in this line.
There is nothing wrong with the main line 4…Nd4 which is also mentioned by the author.
Chapter 4 - Scotch Defence – 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5
There are not so many new developments in this line.
The author analyzed a game in the variation with 7.Bb5 where White even failed to equalize.
Chapter 5 - Scotch Defence 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6
Contrary to the previous chapter, in this line, we will find some significant theoretical discussions and novelties.
Recently, White does not manage to achieve something serious in the main line with 8.c4 and starts exploring new ways like 8.Nd2 and 8.h4!?.
GM Avrukh suggests easy solutions for Black against those lines.
Chapter 6 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6
There are not so many important games in this line in Batumi.
Avrukh found one instructive game in the line 4.d3 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.Re1 d6 7.a4 Na5
Chapter 7 - Italian Game – 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5
The modern main line continues: 6…d5 7.Bb5 Ne4 8.cxd4 Bb6 9.Nc3 0-0 10.Be3!?
This line can be seen quite often recently and White scores pretty well here.
Besides analyzing the games in this line which were played in Batumi, the author makes an overview of the critical variations and suggest quite a reliable repertoire for Black. Armed with the analysis of Avrukh the reader can take Black with confidence.
Chapter 8 - Italian game - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 – White delays 0-0
We are already in deep water here. Italian game is probably the most popular opening for White after 1.e4 e5 nowadays.
There were many essential games in Batumi.
In this chapter, you will see the lines where White is trying to delay the move 0-0 by means of 6.Nbd2 or 6.Bb3.
You will also find the analysis of the critical lines.
5…0-0 6.0-0 (6.Bg5!? is analyzed as well) d5!?
5…0-0 6.0-0 d6 (followed by ...a7-a6)
Chapters 8 and 9 - Italian game - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0-0
Nowadays, the most fashionable Italian position is being reached after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0-0 Nf6 5.d3
This is now the main line in Italian. Therefore we can find many theoretical discussions here.
Both sides have different setups:
Execute the advance a2-a4 (sometimes later b2-b4) fighting for the space on the queenside.
Playing slowly by means of c2-c3, Re1, h3, Nd2-f1-g3 followed by d3-d4.
White can also combine both setups
Black usually chooses between ...a7-a6 or ...a7-a5.
The classical way is to play ...a7-a6, ...Ba7, ...Re8 and prepare ...d6-d5
The modern approach is to play a7-a5 (preventing b2-b4 but weakening the b5-square) followed by ...Be6 and d6-d5.
In all these setups, Avrukh analyzes many games from Batumi.
He found a lot of novelties, new concepts, and interesting ideas.
Those chapters (8 and 9) are must study for everybody who wants to play the Italian Game for Black or White.
Chapter 10 - Ruy Lopez – 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6
There is one important game here. White chooses the interesting line 4.c3 a6 5.Bxc6!? dxc6 6.d4 exd4 7.cxd4 Bg4 8.Qb3
This is an interesting way to fight for the advantage.
It seems that White can pose some problems in this line.
Chapter 11 - Open Variation of Ruy Lopez - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4
Open Ruy Lopez has been recently a reliable variation, and nothing has been changed in Batumi where many interesting games were played. Probably the main discovery is that Black can even go for the line 6.d4 Be7!?
In old times, this was considered risky and not enough for equality, but the modern practice shows us that this line is quite playable.
Avrukh also found important for the theory games in the main line after 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.Nd2
Here, both 9…Nc5 and 9…Be7 are popular, and Black is doing quite well.
Chapter 12 - Ruy Lopez - Arkhangelsk Variation - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5
There are several interesting games in this line.
The well known critical position is 7.c3 d6 8.a4 Rb8 9.d4 Bb6 10.a5 Ba7 11.h3 0-0 12.Be3 Ra8 13.Re1 h6 14.Nbd2 Re8
Avrukh shows the lines 15.Qc2 and 15.Nf1. He makes an overview, explains critical moments and even suggests some great novelties.
Chapter 13 - Ruy Lopez – Karjakin’s Weapon - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Be7 7.d3 0-0 8.Nc3 d6 9.a3!?
This variation became quite popular after the match Carlsen – Karjakin in New York.
Avrukh analyzed the rare move 9…Rb8 and also the main line 9…Na5.
In the main line, White found an exciting new concept and managed to pose some problems for Black.
Chapter 14 - Ruy Lopez - Breyer and Minor Lines
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Nb8
This is the starting point of the substantial Breyer Variation.
The main line continues 10.d4 Nbd7 11.Nbd2 Bb7 12.Bc2 Re8 13.Nf1 Bf8 14.Ng3 g6
This is the main tabiya, and Boris analyzed the old mainline 15.b3, but also the fashionable 15.a4 Bg7 16.Bd3 exd4!? (the newest trend in this line).
In both variations, Black is doing pretty well and even introduced some important novelties.
Besides Breyer, in this chapter Avrukh analysed lines:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.d4 Bg4 10.Be3 exd4 11.cxd4 Na5 12.Nbd2!? – the speciality of GM Gawain Jones.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.d3 where the young Romanian GM Deac introduced an interesting novelty.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Nbd7
which is quite trendy nowadays and the game which Avrukh analyzed confirmed that Black is doing pretty well in this line.
Chapter 15 - Ruy Lopez – Anti-Berlin
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3
This variation becomes the main line in the Berlin Defence.
Many new ideas are introduced in this line on the Olympiad.
Black tried the fighting 4…d6 with decent results.
More popular is the main continuation 4…Bc5
In this position, fashionable lines are:
5.c3 0-0 (5…d5 is quite an important line analyzed by Avrukh) 6.0-0 and then both 6…d6 and 6…Re8 are
This chapter is a must study for all Ruy Lopez fans.
Avrukh made a detailed overview of all new and interesting ideas and explained the theoretical nuances.
As always, many novelties are introduced in this chapter.
Chapter 16 - Ruy Lopez – Berlin Variation
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.Re1
Many important games are played in this line in Batumi.
We achieved the main tabiya after 5…Nd6 6.Nxe5 Be7 7.Bf1 Nxe5 8.Rxe5 0-0 9.d4 Bf6 10.Re1 Re8
Here Avrukh analyzed 11.Bf4, 11.c3 and 11.Rxe8 Nxe5 12.d5
It is quite interesting to see all those lines and the small nuances between them.
The author explained them well, introducing the main ideas, the main theoretical lines, and the new ideas which were tried in Batumi. Of course, he also suggests improvements and novelties.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8 Kxd8 – Berlin Endgame
Nothing exciting happened in the Berlin Endgame in Batumi. There was only one meaningful game in which GM Karjakin introduced a new idea and achieved a small advantage. Still, the game ended in a draw. So far White should try to fight for an advantage in the other lines.
We will find a new idea in the line 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.dxe5 in which Black shows an important theoretical novelty.
Chapter 17 - French Defence – Tarrasch Variation – 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 or 3…Be7
Nothing so important for the opening theory happened in those lines, but Boris shows several model games how to play with White. Especially instructive are his explanations in the line 3…Be7 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nfd7 6.Bd3 c5 7.c3 Nc6 8.0-0 a5
Chapter 18 - French Defence – Tarrasch Variation – 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Nf3
This line always had the reputation of being harmless for Black and the games in Batumi confirmed this evaluation.
The author makes a small overview and suggests some possible improvements, but the evaluation stays the same.
Chapter 19 - French Defence - Tarrasch Variation with 3...c5 4.exd5 exd5
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 exd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Be2 Nf6 7.0-0 c4!?
A very interesting attempt to challenge White's set-up. GM Avrukh analyzed this variation and improved on Black’s play.
The arising positions look quite playable for Black and we can say that this is a good way to fight for the initiative.
Chapter 20 - French Defence – Tarrasch Variation – 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Nf3 cxd4 6.Bc4 Qd7!?
The move 6…Qd7 is fashionable and now is more popular than the old main line 6…Qd6.
In Batumi, Black tried this continuation several times.
After 7.0-0 Nc6 we reach the starting tabiya of the variation.
Avrukh analyzed both 8.Nb3 and 8.Qe2, but so far Black is doing quite well in this line.
Chapter 21 - French Defence – 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nc6!? – Weapon for White
This idea is very interesting against 3.Nd2, but against 3.Nc3 is suspicious.
Avrukh found quite an interesting and fresh option for White – 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e5 Ne4 6.Ne2!?
The author analyzed the main line and improved on White’s play. According to his analysis, White keeps an upper-hand in all lines.
Chapter 22 - French Defence – Rubinstein Variation – 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4
There were not so many games in this line at the Olympiad.
GM Avrukh analyzed one interesting encounter in the line 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Bg5 h6 7.Nxf6 Nxf6 8.Bxf6!?
Interesting and not so popular idea. Black failed to find the right continuation and quickly got into trouble.
Chapter 23 - French Defence – 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5
Classical French is always very popular. The main line continues 4…Nfd7 5.f4 (5.Nce2 is analyzed as well) 5…c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3
Here, the author analyzed
It seems that Black had a hard time in those lines recently. Avrukh made an overview here and suggested some significant improvements and novelties for Black and White.
Chapter 24 - French Defence - 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 gxf6
Avrukh found some theoretically important encounters in this line.
He suggests several improvements, and it seems that White has the upper-hand in this line.
Chapter 25 - French Defence – Winawer Variation - 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Ne7
Avrukh shows an important theoretical game starts with 7.h4!?
This variation gained some popularity recently.
White’s play seems easy and quite natural
Chapter 26 - French Defence – Winawer Variation - 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Qa5!?
Several games were played in this variation in Batumi
The main line continues 7.Bd2 Qa4 8.Qg4 g6!?
This is the latest trend in this line.
The position is quite sharp and good knowledge of the nuances is required. Avrukh pointed out some critical moments and novelties.
Chapter 27 - French Defence – Winawer Variation - 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba5!?
This is the latest trend in the French Winawer. Even players like Magnus Carlsen and Mamedyarov played this line for Black.The main line is 6.b4 cxd4 when both 7.Qg4 Kf8! and 7.Nb5 Bc7 are critical.
The author makes an overview of the variation, shares his thoughts and suggests several improvements for both sides. The conclusion is that 5…Ba5!? becomes a serious alternative to the main line – 5…Bxc3.