CHESS Magazine: Opening trends

10/24/2017 – The Reti retains its seemingly inexorable grip on the top of our chart, while that club player favourite, the King’s Indian, makes a welcome return to the second spot. Elsewhere those non-c4 options after 1 d4 Nf6 continue to do well and the Kan has made gains under the patronage of Caruana, Andreikin and Artemiev. The statistics and a key game is given in this month's edition of the English chess magazine.

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Opening Trends

The Sicilian Kan variation has seen a recent surge in popularity. Here's a Kan game by rising Russian prodigy Vladislav Artemiev, facing the strong Russian IM Vadim Moiseenko.

[Event "Sochi"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Moiseenko, V."] [Black "Artemiev, V."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B41"] [PlyCount "96"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [SourceTitle "Chess 2017 #10"] [SourceDate "2017.09.27"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. c4 Nf6 ({Via an O'Kelly move order, } 5... Qc7 6. Nc3 b6 {was seen in Jones-Hanley, British Championship, Llandudno 2017, and then} 7. Be3 Bb7 8. Bd3 Nf6 9. O-O d6 10. Rc1 Be7 11. f4 Nbd7 12. b4 g6 13. Qf3 O-O 14. Qh3 Rfe8 {. Here Black would have come under heavy pressure had White now opted for the seemingly anti-positional} 15. f5 $1 exf5 {and then} 16. Nd5 $1 Bxd5 17. cxd5 Qb7 18. exf5 {, when the d-pawn is taboo:} Nxd5 (18... Qxd5 $2 19. Bc4 Qb7 20. fxg6 hxg6 21. Bxf7+ $1 {leads to mate}) 19. fxg6 fxg6 20. Rf7 $1 {with a crushing attack.}) 6. Nc3 Qc7 ({ The main reason for the popularity of 5 c4 was the discovery that} 6... Bb4 7. Qd3 $1 {is actually quite awkward for Black, as in that infamous sixth game between Carlsen and Anand back in 2014.}) 7. a3 b6 8. Bd3 {White is happy to transform the structure after this.} ({More aggressive would be} 8. f4 d6 9. Bd3 {, after which} g6 10. Be3 Bg7 11. Rc1 O-O 12. O-O Nbd7 13. b4 Bb7 14. Nb3 Rac8 15. Qe2 Qb8 16. Kh1 Qa8 17. Nd2 Nh5 $5 {led to a typically rich Hedgehog middlegame in Bernal Moro-Bruzon Batista, Spanish Team Championship 2017.}) 8... Nc6 9. Nxc6 $5 dxc6 10. Be3 Bd6 11. h3 O-O 12. O-O Bh2+ 13. Kh1 Bf4 { This manoeuvre is also seen in the Taimanov. Thanks to his grip on the central dark squares, Black should be OK, despite his lack of a hugely effective pawn break.} 14. Bxf4 Qxf4 15. Ne2 Qh4 $5 16. f4 Rd8 17. e5 Ng4 18. Qe1 $6 ({ The board has sprung to life and now} 18. Rf3 Nf2+ 19. Rxf2 Qxf2 20. Bxh7+ $1 Kxh7 21. Qxd8 Qxe2 22. Qh4+ {would have seen proceedings ended in perpetual check. White ambitiously rejects this, but quickly finds himself in trouble.}) 18... Qxe1 19. Raxe1 Ne3 20. Rf3 Rxd3 21. Ng3 g5 $5 22. Nh5 gxf4 23. Nxf4 Nxg2 $1 24. Kxg2 Rd4 25. Nh5 c5 26. Rg1 Kf8 27. Kf2 Rd2+ $6 ({After} 27... Bb7 $1 { and then, for instance,} 28. Rf6 Rad8 29. Rg7 R8d7 30. Rxh7 Be4 31. Rh8+ Ke7 32. Rb8 Rxc4 {, Black would have been pressing. Instead, as played, White is able to drum up sufficient activity and in the end Black even has to be the slightly more careful to hold the draw.}) 28. Ke1 Rd4 29. Rg7 Ra7 30. Rxh7 Re4+ 31. Kf2 Rxe5 32. Nf6 Rf5 $1 33. Rxf5 exf5 34. Kg3 Ke7 35. Nd5+ Kd6 36. Kf4 Be6 37. Ne3 Ke7 38. Nxf5+ Bxf5 39. Kxf5 b5 40. cxb5 axb5 41. Rh8 c4 42. Rc8 Ra4 $1 {A useful endgame device to remember; after....b4 White won't be winning a pawn as Black can unpin thanks to the check on a5.} 43. h4 b4 44. Rc7+ Kf8 45. Rxc4 Ra5+ 46. Kf6 Ra6+ 47. Kg5 bxa3 48. bxa3 Rxa3 1/2-1/2



This article was reproduced from Chess Magazine October/2017, with kind permission.

CHESS Magazine was established in 1935 by B.H. Wood who ran it for over fifty years. It is published each month by the London Chess Centre and is edited by IM Richard Palliser and Matt Read. The Executive Editor is Malcolm Pein, who organises the London Chess Classic. CHESS is mailed to subscribers in over 50 countries. You can subscribe from Europe and Asia at a specially discounted rate for first timers, or subscribe from North America.

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Reti: A Repertoire for White
Victor Bologan; PC-DVD, running time: 5 hours
RRP £25.99 SUBSCRIBERS £23.39

1 Nf3 followed by 2 c4 is, of course, by no means a new development, but it has been quite topical of late and might just surprise many opponents at club level. The Symmetrical English lines after 1 Nf3 c5 2 c4 Nf6 3 Nc3 can become quite theoretical, but here and with 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 c6 3 g3 there should be sufficient coverage for most viewers. Bologan admits that he has not covered every black defence, which is honest and shouldn’t be too big a deterent to getting the viewer up and running with 1 Nf3, but quite possibly not all will want to meet the King’s Indian, 1...Nf6 2 c4 g6, with 3 b4!?.

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Rocket Repertoire: The Four Knights
Simon Williams; PC-DVD, running time: 5 hours
RRP £25.99 SUBSCRIBERS £23.39

The popular English Grandmaster isn’t a man one associates with dull positions, so that he considers 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 N f6 to be quite a viable position as White makes one sit up and take notice. Williams covers both 4 Bb5 and 4 d4 exd4 5 Nxd4, two sensible options where he does his best to avoid excessive theory and to inject an attacking bent where possible. Unsurprisingly, though, some of the recommendations are still quite positional, something which one couldn’t describe the concluding Belgrade Gambit (4 d4 exd4 5 Nd5!?) coverage as.

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The Chess Player’s Mating Guide
Vol. 1: The King in the Centre -
Vol. 2: Weakened Kingside
Robert Ris, PC-DVD, running time 5 hours
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One of the first lessons you learn in chess is to bring your king into safety by castling – be it on the kingside or the queenside - after having developed your minor pieces. By ignoring this rule of thumb, not only may your king end up in trouble, but your other pieces and in particular, your rooks, may never end up playing much of a role, and before you know it, things are looking grim.

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RayLopez RayLopez 10/25/2017 01:26
Fashion is fashion, we club players have to keep up with the latest opening trends, lol.
Frederic Frederic 10/24/2017 05:36
I corrected it, Arminio. Autor's comment: "Must admit I never thought anyone read the Trends table in huge detail!" So thanks.
Arminio12 Arminio12 10/24/2017 10:58
In the top twenty "English, 1... e5" is ranked both as number 10 and number 19. What's the difference?