Opening Surveys in ChessBase Magazine 122

3/19/2008 – The innovation of the year in 2007 probably occurred when the Polish player Grzegorz Gajewski simply played ...d5 rather than ...c5 in a position of the Ruy Lopez which had been seen over a thousand times. In his survey for ChessBase Magazine 122 (one of 11 in the issue) the Danish grandmaster Lars Schandorff has brought together the most important games and variations.

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A new Marshall gambit

by Lars Schandorff

Everything is possible. Just check this out! In one of the best known positions in the Ruy Lopez a brand new spectacular gambit has appeared.

1.e4 e5 2.¤f3 ¤c6 3.¥b5 a6 4.¥a4 ¤f6 5.0-0 ¥e7 6.¦e1 b5 7.¥b3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 ¤a5 10.¥c2

Here Black has launched the stunning 10...d5!?. For a traditional chess mind it doesn't make sense and probably some of the ancient masters would turn in their graves if they knew about it. They always played the normal 10...c5 with a typical Ruy Lopez game.

But ...d5? Are you serious? Yes, I am. This is modern chess. And it is not just for club players who want a surprise weapon. The Norwegian Boy Wonder Magnus Carlsen took it to the highest level and used it to eliminate top Cuban player Dominguez and the British star Adams in his raid in the World Cup in Khanty-Mansyisk.

1) Take the free pawn

11.¤xe5

Black has left it for free. First he moved the knight away, then the pawn that protected it!

11...dxe4 12.¥xe4

Logical, but in my debut with the d5-gambit White played the more careful 12.d4 exd3 13.£xd3. Black had no problems after the queen exchange, on the contrary he was a little better Pedersen,C - Schandorff,L ½-½.

12...¤xe4 13.¦xe4 ¥b7

Black has great play for the pawn. Especially the pressure on the long diagonal from b7 to g2 will be annoying for White.

2) OK, then take the other pawn

11.exd5

Natural. Pawn e5 still hangs. But now comes a surprising sequence.

11...e4 12.¤g5

Again the most natural. 12.¤e5 or 12.¤d4 is nothing after 12...£xd5. In Khanty-Mansyisk Adams just took the pawn with 12.¥xe4 against Carlsen, but Black had the familar compensation of the bishop pair, Adams,M - Carlsen,M ½-½.

12...¤xd5 13.¤xe4 f5 14.¤g3 f4 15.¤e4 f3

Where did that pawn on f3 come from? It almost seems to have been thrown in to disturb White's king's position. Black clearly has the initiative and good chances to develop a nasty attack.

16.d4 fxg2 17.¤g3

White tried to play actively with 17.£h5 but was quickly pushed back in Guliyev,N - Fressinet,L 0-1. It was a blitz game but it shows Black's attacking potential.

17...£d6 18.£d3

After 18.¥e4 Gajewski won a brilliant game full of spectacular sacrifices - Kuznetsov,V - Gajewski,G 0-1. Actually the whole d5-line is somewhat of a Polish speciality.

18...g6

A complicated position with chances for both sides. It was tested in the match China - England and ended in a draw after a long tough fight - Wang Hao - Jones,G ½-½.

3) Counterstrike

11.d4

Forget about winning material. Play for the initiative instead. This has been the main choice of strong players.

11...dxe4 12.¤xe5 c5 13.¥g5

The most active, but maybe the simple 13.¥e3 is better. White overprotects d4 and goes after Black's e4 pawn afterwards - Kotronias,V - Mastrovasilis,A 1-0. This idea looks quite promising.

13...¥b7

The position is full of tension. The e4-pawn is weak but Black has good counterplay against d4.

14.¤d2

White completes his development. Ukranian star Volokitin played 14.dxc5 in the European Team Championship in Crete, but his opponent answered with one of the tournament's best attacking performances - Volokitin,A - Wojtaszek,R 0-1. Another great Polish effort.

14...cxd4 15.cxd4 ¦e8!?

A good waiting move. 15...£xd4 16.¤xe4 gives White the initiative despite the simplifications.

16.¤b3

An improvement over 16.¥xf6 that just leads to exchanges - Charbonneau,P - Benjamin,J 0-1.

16...¤xb3 17.¥xb3 ¤d5! 18.¥xe7 ¦xe7

Black is ok, see Dominguez Perez,L - Carlsen,M ½-½.

Conclusion: The new d5-line is an interesting and easy to learn variation for Black that so far has scored pretty well even on the highest level. When confronted with it in the World Blitz Ch. Shirov just replied 11.d3!? He got nothing out of the opening of course but actually won the game Shirov,A - Leko,P 1-0. His choice of move indicates that is is not easy to refute the d5 idea. Maybe White should just take the pawn like Adams did against Carlsen and say something like: Ok, you have two super bishops and great positional compensation, but I have a pawn! Another important try could be to follow in Kotronias' footsteps. He is after all one of the few who has won with White against d5. The near future will without a doubt produce more games with this amazing line.


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