Chess Journalists of America

For those who have not heard, there is a daily internet chess newspaper headed by GM Alex Baburin called Chess Today. We have received his permission to excerpt one of his periodic "Trainers Corner" articles. We suggest you investigate this chess news daily that keeps up with chess as it happens.
Pete Tamburro

Grandmaster Alexander Baburin’s “Trainer’s Corner”
—The First Daily Chess Paper on the Net

(ed. note: by special permission, GM Alexander Baburin has allowed the CJA web site to use his “Trainer’s Corner” (questions from readers) as a feature on the website. If you are not familiar with his newspaper, here’s the scoop: you get emailed to you every day an issue of CT, complete with latest news and speculation along with a deeply annotated game right from the tournaments and matches. They will throw in problems and humor and will answer subscriber’s questions. If you think about it, in one month you get about 100 pages of chess news, including 30 games with in-depth notes. What monthly magazine does this? It’s only $15 for 4 months. About 12 pennies a day to have a GM give you a daily lesson! For information email to ct@gmsquare.com or go to the interactive website at www.chesstoday.net)

Question: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 is standard, whereas 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.c4 is unusual. Any good reason?

GM Baburin: OK, let’s talk about the following position first:

Isolated d-pawn in the Caro-Kann, discussion: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4:

This is the Panov Attack. White has an easy development with Nc3, Nf3 and Bg5. Black has a harder time developing his pieces. He needs to develop his kingside first and a lot depends on how he develops his f8-bishop. He can play...Nf6, ...g6 and ….Bg7, which is a very good set-up against the isolated d-pawn as Black’s king will be safe. However, then Black might have problems with the d5-pawn. White can often take on d5 and then hold on to the pawn. Yet if Black plays...e6, he has no problems developing the kingside, but deploying the c8-bishop may not be easy.That is why the Panov attack is one of White’s most dangerous weapons against the Caro-Kann defense. Now let’s consider a different position:

Isolated d-pawn in the French, discussion:

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.c4:

Here Black has no problems with development, as both his bishops could be deployed easily. Black can play ...Nf6 and Be7 (or Bb4), followed by 0-0. Meanwhile White would have to take on d5, centralizing Black’s knight or lose a tempo, if he plays Bf1-d3xc4. This explains why this system is less dangerous for Black than the Panov attack—here Black has fewer problems with development, which is very important when playing against the isolani.That said, White’s chances are not to be underestimated: in the past many strong GMs employed this line against the French. Nowadays Latvian Grandmaster Miezis plays it regularly with good results. I guess one of the main attractions of this system for White is that he can be sure to get it against the French—he is the one who chooses here. I’ve included in the CT-313 database a few games played in this system for your study. It’s not a bad idea to include this line into your opening repoitoire, if you like playing with the isolated d-pawn or want to practice such positions.

In the past few years a modification of this plan became rather popular: 4.Nf3 Bd6 5.c4!?:

In this case, Black has committed his bishop to d6 (and it was a good move, preparing ...Ne7) and thus moves like ...Bb4 are less appealing now. Black must keep in mind such moves as c4-c5 or cxd5, so he is likely to play ...dxc4, allowing White to develop the bishop without losing any time. The play may continue:

5...dxc4 6.Bxc4 Nf6 7.0-0 0-0 8.Nc3

Later White can play Bc1-g5, pinning the f6-knight and exploiting the fact that Black’s bishop went to d6 and not to e7. All in all, White has a good initiative in this line.

Question: In the Najdorf with 6.Bg5 e6, 7.Bc4 looks natural (and is played after 6...Nbd7), but is unknown. Is this because of ...h6, ...g5, ...b5, ...b4 and ...Nxe4? Generally, that is very risky.

GM Baburin: We are talking about the following position here:

Najdorf discussion[B95]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Bc4:

I think that here Black should play 7...b5 8.Bb3 Be7

Now White finds himself in a rare line of the 6.Bc4 system. In that variation, White usually needs to play something like f2-f4-f5 or e4-e5 in order to activate the b3-bishop. Otherwise, the bishop might become a passive piece, simply observing the e6-pawn. The move Bc1-g5 is less thematic, therefore , and probably this why White does not play this line too often. Yet it is not unknown—about 200 games in Mega2000!

On the other hand, I doubt that White really should fear 8...h6?! 9.Bh4 g5 10.Bg3 b4. That is simply too risky for Black in my opinion. Also, 9.Bxf6!? Qxf6 10.0-0 is worth considering—White has a great lead in development here.

Now let us examine why 7.Bc4 is seldom played after 6...e6 and yet it is the main reply to 6...Nbd7. The reason is that after 6...Nbd7 7.Bc4, Black may need to play ...e6 and White can often strike on e6 with Bxe6. This is a direct result of 6...Nbd7 and one reason why that move is far less popular than 6...e6.

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