Opening Trends in Sicilian, Caro-Kann, Philidor, Scandinavian, Pirc, and Alekhine - Batumi Olympiad
In Part 1 of his opening review of the Batumi Olympiad, GM Boris Avrukh covered all the opening developments in 1.e4 e6 and 1.e4 e5. The current database deals with all other Black's responses to 1.e4.
As it was the case with the first part, the author goes through all the theoretically important games. Besides, making a short theoretical overview of each line and pointing out the novelties, the author often suggests improvements on his own.
The database consists of 30 chapters which cover different theoretical lines. Such a format is ideal for those of you who want to follow the latest developments in their repertoire.
Chapter 1 - Sicilian Defence - Carlsen's Variation
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Qd2!?
Since Magnus Carlsen managed to beat R. Wojtaszek in this way, this variation became very popular, and some very strong players gave it a try. The idea is simple - b2-b3, Bb2, 0-0-0 and start pushing the pawns on the kingside. Black has three main schemes for development:
-5...Nf6 6.b3 e6
-5...g6 6.b3 Bg7
-5...g6 6.b3 Bh6
Avrukh provides some analysis and shares his opinion about the critical moments.
Chapter 2 - Sicilian Defence - Grand Prix Attack
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bb5+ Bd7 6.Bc4 Nc6 7.0-0 Nd4!?
This move was tried by several strong players this year.
It becomes a serious alternative to the main continuations - 7...e6 and 7...Na5.
Avrukh analyzes the position in details and concludes that the line is fully playable for Black.
Chapter 3 - Sicilian Defence - 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Nf3 a6 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.0-0 g6 7.Nce2N
Quite interesting new try for White. In the game played in Batumi, White quickly got into trouble, but the author improves on White's play and suggests several new ideas which can be a starting point for further investigations.
Having such lines in your repertoire is quite useful. Nowadays the effect of the surprise in the opening is vital.
Chapter 4 - Sicilian Defence - Alapin Variation
1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nf3 Nc6
Several crucial for the opening theory games were played in Batumi.
Avrukh analyzes 5.d4 and 5.Bc4, but against both Black found reliable solutions and successfully solved his opening problems.
Chapter 5 - Sicilian Defence - Rossolimo Variation
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5
The Rossolimo variation is quite popular nowadays. The author found several exciting games in Batumi.
There are two main directions for Black.
- 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 - now White has a choice between 4.Bxc6 and 4.0-0 Bg7 5.Re1
- 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6
The arising positions are very complex, and Avrukh shows some significant improvements for both sides.
Everyone who is interested in more details about Rossolimo can take a look at GM Neiksan's Database
Chapter 6 - Sicilian Defence - Moscow Variation
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+
The Moscow Variation is the preferable way for White to avoid the sharp positions in Naidorf or Dragon.
The theory is quite developed here as well
In Batumi, several lines were discussed in some high-level games.
Avrukh analyzes all main continuations here:
- 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5 Bd7 -
- 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5 Nc6 -
- 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5 Nd7 - the most trendy move nowadays
The author analyzes 3 main ways for White here:
- 4.Ba4!? - This strange-looking move probably deserves attention as MVL decided to play it.
- 4.0-0 a6 5.Bd3 Ngf6 6.c3 b5 7.a4!? this move drew some attention in Batumi and Boris analyzes it in details.
Chapter 7 - Sicilian Defence - Kalashnikov Variation
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6
Avrukh found one important for the theory game in Kalashnikov Variation.
Chapter 8 - Sicilian Defence - Maroczy Bind - New Concept for White
In one of the games in Batumi White chooses an unusual plan.
In this well-known position, instead of the normal 11.Be2 followed by 0-0, White has played 11.0-0-0!? with a very interesting position.
Chapter 9 - Sicilian Defence - Rauzer Variation
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6
The author found few interesting encounters in the variation where White chooses the setup with f2-f3 and Black answers with h7-h5 in an appropriate moment. Avrukh explains the critical moments and suggests few improvements. He shows some model games and common ideas for Black in this setup.
Chapter 10 - Sicilian Defence - Accelerated Dragon
The move 9...Re8!? is Boris Gelfand's specialty and he tested it in one theoretically very important game.
Chapter 11 - Sicilian Defence - Paulsen Variation
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6
Avrukh analyzes mainly the variations arising after 5.Bd3 Bc5 6.Nb3.
He went through some very important games, pointed out the critical moments. Additionally, he managed to provide a theoretical overview as well as some new ideas.
Chapter 12 - Sicilian Defence - Taimanov Variation - The Popular 7.Qf3
The most fashionable line against Taimanov Variation.
We have more than 1000 games in the database in this line in the last few years.
Avrukh overviews the variation and shows several interesting novelties for both sides.
He investigates both 7...Nf6 and 7...Bd6.
Chapter 13 - Sicilian Defence - Scheveningen Variation - New Idea - 15...Qd7!?
The move 15...Qd7 is the last fashion in Scheveningen and is an alternative to the most popular 15...Rd7, 15...Re8 and 15...g6. So far, White is unable to prove an advantage against this new idea.
Avrukh shows the main lines and introduces the recent developments in this line.
The author deals with the Naidorf Variation in six consecutive chapters. Hundreds of games were played in this variation in Batumi and many novelties and new concepts were revealed.
Chapter 14 - Sicilian Naidorf - 6.Be3
In recent years, the move 6...e5 became the main line in this position and the move 6...e6 is rarely played at the high -level. The encounters in Batumi followed this fashion. We had opening discussions in both directions:
Some very important novelties were introduced in those lines. For example, 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be2 Be7 9.h4!?N
A remarkable novelty in such a well-known position.
The other interesting line which is discussed in this chapter is 6...Ng4.
Avrukh found a new and quite an interest concept for White in this line.
Chapter 15 - Sicilian Naidorf - 6.h3
The author found many important for the opening theory games in this fashionable line.
He analyzed 6...Nc6 and 6...e6 7.g4 Nfd7!?
This is a must-study chapter for each Naidorf player. Some important novelties were revealed for both sides!
Chapter 16 - Sicilian Naidorf - 6.f3 e5
We are continuing the examination of the Naidorf with this trendy line.
The main position is being reached after the moves: 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 Be7 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 Nbd7 11.g4 b5 12.g5 Nh5 13.Nd5 Bxd5 14.exd5
This is a fresh line in Naidorf with a double-edged play. We already have more 1000 games here and the theory is growing up quickly.
Black's main tries here are 14...f5 or 14...f6. Boris analyzes this position in detail and suggests some interesting novelties and concepts.
Chapter 17 - Sicilian Naidorf - 6.Bg5
This is probably the most complicated variation in the whole Sicilian and definitely the most aggressive approach against Naidorf. The author found many interesting games from Batumi including few overwhelming novelties.
Chapter 18 - Sicilian Naidorf - 6.Be2 e5 7.Nf3
Only in recent years, White has realized that this move is a very playable alternative to the common 7.Nb3.
The main line continues 7...Be7 8.Bg5 Nbd7 9.a4
An important crossroads for Black when both 9...0-0 and 9...h6 are possible.
GM Avrukh analyzes this variation in detail, suggests some important novelties and explains the plans for both sides.
Chapter 19 - Sicilian Naidorf - 6.Nb3 and 6.g3
The author found only 1 interesting game per variation in Batumi, but both games were quite important for the opening theory and deserve attention.
Chapter 20 - Pirc Defence - 4.Be2 Bg7 5.h4!?, 4.Bg5
Avrukh found two quite interesting games in those variations in Batumi.
The concept with an early h4 is quite interesting and the idea of 4.Bg5 is very dangerous for Black.
Chapter 21 - Pirc Defence - 4.f4
White's main weapon against Pirc Defence.
Some important for the theory games were played in Batumi in this line.
The author analyzed the standard 4...Bg7 5.Nf3, but also 4...Bg7 5.a3 which gained popularity recently.
Chapter 22 - Modern Defence - 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6
There were a few interesting games in the Modern Defence in Batumi.
White tried the two most dangerous lines for Black: 4.f4 a6 5.Nf3 b5 6.Bd3 Bb7 7.e5 and 4.Be3 a6 5.Qd2 b5 6.0-0-0. Boris overviews those lines and points out some interesting new ideas.
Chapter 23 - Modern Defence - 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c6 4.f4 Qb6!?
A very tricky idea. The author found a model game for White in this variation, which is also important for the opening theory.
Chapter 24 - Philidor Defence - 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5
Philidor Defence has a reputation for being a good opening to play for a win with Black.
Even though White is probably slightly better, the structures can vary and Black can choose among several setups.
The author analyzes several encounters in Batumi and introduces some interesting new ideas.
Chapter 25 - Alekhine Defence - 1.e4 Nf6
Alekhine Defence is an infrequent guest in grandmaster practice.
One game caught the author's eye in Batumi. The Alekhine specialist GM Baburin managed to draw the game against GM Sergey Karjakin. Despite Black's success, his position after the opening was just worse. Chapter 26.
Chapter 26 - Scandinavian Defence - 1.e4 d5
The author noticed some interesting games in this opening in Batumi.
There are some intriguing developments in the main line - 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5, but probably more interesting is Nakamura's setup 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 g6
Chapter 27 - Caro Kann - 1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.d4 Nc6 5.Ne5!?
It's hard to believe, but this line appears to be not without venom. Moreover, it's been played a lot by top GM's including Carlsen, Kramnik, Anand, Caruana, and Grischuk.
There are several high-level encounters in Batumi as well.
Boris made an overview of the whole line and also analyzed 5.Bb5.
Chapter 28 - Caro-Kann - 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5
The Advanced Variation is the main weapon for White against Caro - Kann nowadays.
Of course, in Batumi, we saw some important theoretical discussions.
Avrukh analyzed the trendy 4.h4 and the main line 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2
Chapter 29 - Caro-Kann - The Two Knight Variation
This is a fashionable variation nowadays. Some very important for the opening theory encounters were analyzed in the main line after 3...Bg4, but the author also examined the trendy 3...dxe4.
Chapter 30 - Caro-Kann - 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2(c3)dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6!? (4...Bf5)
This move became quite popular recently. The arising positions are far from being standard. That is the reason why this line is a perfect weapon when Black is playing for a win. The theory is still developing here and there are is a room for improvements practically at every moment.
Also, Avrukh analyzed the main line after 4...Bf5
He analyzes in details some heavy theoretical battles here and suggests several strong novelties.