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Botvinnik Variation

Written by GM Ruslan Scherbakov


Last updated Sunday, June 5, 2011

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 f3 f6 4 c3 e6 5 g5 dxc4

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This is one of the most original and complicated systems in modern chess theory.
The exceptional sharpness of the struggle and the very unusual strategy make this variation
very attractive for players who like to play for a win regardless of colour and are not
worried about taking risks.
For the sake of keeping a pawn on c4 Black allows the destruction of his kingside
pawn structure. But on the other hand Black manages to lessen White's influence in the
centre and on the queenside. Furthermore, by castling queenside, Black hopes to use the
opened lines on the king side to create an attack on the white king.
History
The system was played occasionally from the twenties to the forties, but gained its
reputation after the wellknown game Denker Botvinnik (radio match USAUSSR)

1945. Then its popularity increased quickly, and nowadays the Botvinnik variation is
included in the opening repertoire of many players from amateur chess lovers to world class
grandmasters.
Experts
There are a lot of players who are experts in this variation and have advanced the
theory a great deal, mainly GMs Peter Lukacs, Grigory Kaidanov, Alexander Shabalov,
Sergey Ivanov, Igor Novikov, Stanislav Savchenko, Jeroen Piket, top GMs Alexey Shirov,
Vladimir Kramnik and Vasily Ivanchuk and many others.
The main white adherents are GMs Alexey Yermolinsky, Predrag Nikolic, Rainer
Knaak, Loek van Wely, Alexander Beliavsky, Artur Yusupov and the World Champion
Garry Kasparov. Some players like Alexey Shirov, Vasily Ivanchuk and Igor Novikov use
this variation with both colours. I would like to mention two grandmasters in particular:
GMs Alexey Shirov and Sergey Ivanov.
Current Evaluation
These days Black's life in the Botvinnik variation is not easy since White's efforts
more and more frequently succeed, but these two guys have managed to hold Black's
position somehow. Alexey plays the same positions with both colours and sometimes (it
seems completely unbelievable!) he wins the same positions with Black and White against
strong grandmasters who are obviously prepared for the line.
It seems like Sergey Ivanov from St. Petersburg has been playing the Botvinnik his
whole life, and despite being under serious pressure for years he is still able to survive with
black. Although he is far from the top twenty he likes chess (and especially this variation I
suppose) very much, and without any doubt we'll be surprised many more times in the
future by his brilliant ideas, such as his positional sacrifice of two rooks for some passed
pawns in the ending.
Conclusion
The Botvinnik variation requires much courage, coolness and inventiveness as well
as very good home preparation, and despite all the difficulties it seems to be quite playable.

Contents
1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 f3 f6 4 c3
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4...e6 5 g5 dxc4 6 e4
6 a4D44 Botvinnik Variation/1Early deviations

6...b5 7 e5 h6 8 h4 g5 9 xg5
9 exf6 gxh4 10 e5 D44 Botvinnik Variation/2 8. Bh4 g5 9. exf6

9...hxg5
9... d5 D44 Botvinnik Variation/3 8. Bh4 g5 9. Nxg5 Nd5
10 xg5 bd7 11 exf6
11 g3 D44 Botvinnik Variation/5 Deviations after 11. g3

11...b7 12 g3 c5
12...b6 D44 Botvinnik Variation/6Various lines with 000

13 d5 b6
13...xf6 D44 Botvinnik Variation/4 Deviations after 11. ef6

14 g2 0-0-0 15 0-0 b4 16 b1
16 a4 D44 Botvinnik Variation/7, 8 & 9 16. a4

16...a6
D44 Botvinnik Variation/10Main lines 16. b1

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Botvinnik Variation/1 Early deviations


[D44]
Last updated: 16/02/09 by R.Scherbakov

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 f3 f6 4 c3 e6 5 g5 dxc4

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The Botvinnik Variation is one of the most original and complicated systems in modern
chess theory. The exceptional sharpness of the struggle and the very unusual strategy
make this variation very attractive for players who like to play for a win regardless
of colour and are not worried about taking risks.
For the sake of keeping a pawn on c4 Black allows the destruction of his kingside pawn
structure. But on the other hand Black manages to lessen White's influence in the
centre and on the queenside. Furthermore, by castling queenside, Black hopes to use
the opened lines on the king side to create an attack on the White king.

6 a4
Sometimes White prefers this move to avoid wild complications. However, it is much less
ambitious approach and it allows Black to achieve acceptable play.

6...b4 7 e4

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7...b5
This version of the Botvinnik variation is known to be risky for Black. It more often arises
from the Vienna variation after 1. d4 f6 2. c4 e6 3. f3 d5 4. c3 dc4 5. e4 b4 6.
g5 and here instead of a common 6...c5 Black goes for 6 ...b5 7. a4 c6 etc.
Black can also think about the much safer and 7...c5!?, transposing into the Vienna
variation with an extra tempo for White. However, the move a2a4 doesn't look very
useful, besides weakening the b4 square, White lost the possibility to check with
d1-a4 which is important in some lines. 8 xc4 cxd4 9 b5+!? The fact that the
pawn is on a4 of course has some pluses, the main one is that the bishop is well
protected on b5, while in the Vienna variation c4b5 check promises nothing
because of the simple ...c8d7. (after 9 xd4 h6 10 b5+ bd7 Black has no
problems) 9...c6 (9...bd7 10 xd4!) 10 xd4

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10...0-0!? An interesting pawn sacrifice. (10...d7 does not solve Black's problems: 11 00!? (11 xc6 would also promise a small edge for White: 11...bxc6 12 d3 h6 13
e3 e5! 14 f3 a5 15 c1 (15 c1 b8 16 0-0 c5!) 15...c5 (15...0-0?! 16 0-0 c5 17
d5!) 16 c4 xe3 17 xe3 b8 18 b3 0-0 19 0-0) 11...h6 12 h4 This position
arose in the game O.Danielian R.Scherbakov/ECC sf Balatonbereny 1993 which
continued by 12...b6?! (12...g5!? looked too risky although actually it was not so
6

clear: 13 g3 xc3 14 bxc3 xe4 15 xc6 xc6 16 e5 with certain initiative) 13 xc6
bxc6 14 c4! xc3 15 bxc3 xe4 16 g4 g5 17 xg5 hxg5 18 xg5 and White
has maintained the pressure) 11 xc6 (11 xc6 bxc6 12 xc6 xc3+ 13 bxc3 c7 is fine
for Black) 11...xd1+! 12 xd1 bxc6 13 xc6 b8 Black has got reasonable
compensation for the pawn. Now in case of the ambitious but weak 14 e5?! g4 15
f4 a5! he takes the initiative.
An immediate 7...a5 can be met with 8 d2 c5 9 e5 (9 dxc5!?) 9...cxd4 10 exf6 dxc3 11
bxc3 xc3 12 fxg7 xd2+ 13 xd2 e5+ 14 e2 xg7 with better chances for
White.
7...xc3+ 8 bxc3 a5 is another option but it does not completely equalises: 9 e5 Almost
forced. (Both 9 xf6?! xc3+ 10 d2 gxf6 11 xc4 xd4 12 0-0 d7, and 9 c2?! xe4! are
in Black's favour) 9...e4 10 d2 (10 c1!? is also interesting: 10...d7
a) 10...d5 11 e3 c5 (11...0-0 12 g3!?) 12 e2 (12 c2!?) 12...d7 13 0-0 c6 14 c2
cxd4 15 cxd4 c3 16 fd1 d7 17 e1! with idea f2f3 seems better for White
b) while 10...b5!? may deserve further investigation.
11 e3 (or 11 f4 b5 12 c2 f5 13 exf6 dxf6 14 e5) 11...b5 12 c2 f5 13 exf6 exf6 14
e2 with a good compensation for the pawn) 10...d5 (Both 10...xd2 11 xd2,
and 10...c5 11 xc4 promise better chances for White, according to the tournament
practice) 11 a5 With idea to attack Black's c4pawn from a4. (The main alternative
11 c2!? might be also promising: 11...c5 (11...d7!?) 12 e3 cxd4 13 cxd4 a5+ 14
d2 xd2 15 xd2 d5 16 xc4!? xc4 (16...e4+!? 17 e3 c6 was worthy of
consideration) 17 xc4 c6 18 c3 e7 19 a5 with advantage in the ending) The
game Werle Volokitin/Wijk aan Zee 2009 continued 11...c5 12 a4+ d7 13
xc4 c6!? 14 xd5 xd5 15 e3 and White has maintained a small advantage.

8 e5 h6 9 exf6
A common for the Botvinnik 9 h4?! is dubious here: 9...g5 10 exf6 (after 10 xg5?! a5!
White already faces problems: 11 exf6 (in the game Kempinski Van Wely/GER
chT Godesberg 2006 White found himself in trouble after 11 xf7?! xc3+ 12 bxc3
xc3+ 13 e2 d5! 14 d6+ d7 15 g3 b2+ 16 e1 c3+ 17 e2 h5! 18 h4 b2+ 19
e1 c3+ 20 e2 g8! with a big advantage) 11...xc3+ 12 bxc3 xc3+ 13 e2 hxg5

14 xg5 e5! and Black takes initiative) 10...gxh4 11 e5 White does not have any
advantage but at least he is not so bad. For example: 11...c5 (11...b7!? 12 e2 h3!?) 12
f3 xd4 (12...cxd4 13 0-0-0 c7 14 xb5 xe5 15 xc4 might be better for White) 13
c6 xc6 (13...xc3+ 14 bxc3 d5 is also playable: 15 axb5 xf3 16 gxf3 xc6 17 bxc6 g8
18 xc4 d8) 14 xc6+ f8 15 d1 xc3+ 16 bxc3 xc3+ 17 d2 a1+ 18 d1
c3+= with a perpetual check.

9...hxg5 10 fxg7 g8

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This position is known to be risky for Black. However, he might also find his chances in a
very sharp play.

11 g3

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11 h4 is an alternative it was supposed to be more promising but recently Black is often
able to get reasonable counter chances. 11...g4 12 e5 xg7 13 h5 f5 (Other options
do not promise easy life for Black: 13...g5?! 14 h6 h7 15 xg4 xg4 16 xg4 d7 17
e2 b7 18 f3, or 13...g3?! 14 h6 gxf2+ 15 xf2 f6+ 16 g1 h7 17 g4 d7 18 e4 h8
19 xc6 b7 20 axb5 with a certain advantage in both cases) 14 e2

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(White tried many options here, among those a piece sacrifice 14 h6 h7 15 xg4!? fxg4 16
xg4 deserves attention. Possible play is 16...d7 17 axb5 f6 18 xc4 with excellent
compensation but Black could probably defend with accurate play, 14 g3 can be well
met with 14...d5! 15 h2 e4+ 16 e2 d7 17 h6 h7 with acceptable play, Cheparinov
Vallejo Pons/Cuernavaca 2006) 14...g5!?
a) 14...c5?! can be well met by 15 h6 h7 16 xg4! xd4 (16...fxg4 17 xg4+) 17

h5+ e7 18 g6+ f6 19 c1! and Black faces problems


b) 14...d5?! is also insufficient due to 15 d2! d7 16 h6 h7 17 g5 with a
strong initiative
c) but 14...f6!? seems playable, although White's chances might be better after 15
d2
15 c2!? This modest developing move might promise better chances for White. (15 f1
h7!? looks okay for Black, the endgame after 15 d2!? xd2+ 16 xd2 is a bit better
for White but Black should solve the problems: 16...b7 17 f3 d7 18 h6 h7 19 xd7
xd7 20 fxg4 a6 21 gxf5 exf5 and White can hardly hope to get a full point since he
cannot prevent ...b4f8) 15...c5!? (15...b7!? is worthy of consideration) 16 f1!?
(16 dxc5 b7) 16...a6 17 dxc5 xc5 18 h6 h7 19 xg4 b7 and here both 20 axb5
(and 20 h5!? might be analysed more thoroughly.)

11...b7
11...g4!? deserves attention as well: 12 h4
a) 12 d2!? is interesting but far from clear: 12...xd4 13 g2 This position arose
in the game Izoria Bartel/EUch Kusadasi 2006, which continued 13...bxa4!? This
strange looking capture is actually not so bad. 14 0-0 and here 14...a3! seemed to be
a principled reply. (in the game White has maintained his initiative after 14...xg7?! 15
xa4 a5 16 fd1) 15 de4 xg7 (15...xd1?? 16 f6+) 16 xa3!? (16 bxa3 xc3 17 xc3
xc3 18 d6 could be parried with 18...d3! 19 xc6+ d7 20 xd3 cxd3 21 xa8 a4
with acceptable play) 16...xa3 17 bxa3 White has achieved excellent
compensation for exchange but this position requires more thorough analysis.
b) 12 e5 d5! is also playable for Black
12...c5!? (12...b7!? is also playable: 13 xg4!? (in the game Gustafsson
Ivanchuk/Dortmund 2008 Black had no problems after 13 g2 xg7 14 axb5 b6!)
9

13...c5 14 g2 xg2 15 xg2 cxd4 16 d1 c6 17 0-0 The position is very unclear


but Black's play seems more difficult because of his vulnerable king) 13 g2 cxd4
Black obtains good counter chances but the position remains extremely sharp. A
possible line is 14 0-0 (14 xa8!? deserved attention but the ending after 14...dxc3 15
xd8+ xd8 16 0-0-0+ d7 is too far from clear) 14...dxc3 15 xg4 cxb2 16 ad1 c7
17 xa8 and here Black can think about 17...e7! with such ideas as ...e7f6 and
...c4c3.

12 g2 c5
12...d7?! does not promise easy play for Black after 13 h4 gxh4 14 xh4

13 0-0 g4

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In case of 13...xg7?! 14 dxc5 xd1 15 fxd1 xc3 16 bxc3 White gets an annoying
initiative in the endgame.

14 axb5!

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10

A rather unexpected, very interesting and perhaps the strongest decision which poses
certain problems for Black in the whole line!
14 e5 xg2 15 xg2 cxd4 is okay for Black.
14 h4 xg2 15 xg2 was known to be the main option for years. It might still promise
somewhat better chances for White but in some cases he should be brave enough to
give up a piece for some positional advantages: 15...xg7 (15...cxd4 can be met by
the interesting 16 e4!? (White usually played 16 xb5 c6 17 xg4 a6 (17...c8?
is a waste of important time: 18 ad1 c5 19 f4 a6 20 xe6! fxe6 21 h5+ d7 22 xc5
axb5 23 axb5 with decisive attack) 18 e4 c8 The only move. (18...d7? 19 xd4!,
18...e7? 19 c7+!) 19 h7!? (White also tried 19 fd1 c5 20 h7 and here Black can
achieve a playable position by 20...e7 21 a3 xa3 22 xa3 b6 though White's
chances still seem preferable after 23 aa1) 19...e7 This position has been reached
in the game Sakaev Yakovich/RUSch Semifinal Kazan 2005. White came up
with a piece sacrifice 20 f4! (In case of the fainthearted retreat 20 a3?! d3
followed by ...d8d4 the knight couldn't help much in the attack anyway. On the
other hand, its sacrifice gives some pluses, such as: it saves time, opens the afile for
the rook and, by the way, increases the potential of the White apawn, which after
capturing on b5 may become a useful resource in the struggle) 20...axb5 21 h5!
White's initiative looked threatening but Black has managed to find a good defence:
21...f5 22 h6! d6! 23 axb5 e5! although he eventually went astray and lost)
16...f5 (16...xg7 17 axb5 would have been a transposition to the game Ivanchuk
Vallejo Pons/Morelia Linares 2006) 17 f4! Following Ivanchuk's footsteps. This
position was tested in the game Gormally Trent/Southend 2006. Here Black could
have thought about 17...f7!?
a) In case of 17...fxe4?! 18 xg4 White's attack could be very strong
b) while in the just mentioned game White has obtained a strong initiative after
17...e5 18 h5 d7 (18...fxe4?! 19 xg4 was still too dangerous for Black) 19 axb5
18 e2 e8 (18...d3 is met by 19 g5+!) 19 axb5 White has achieved good attacking
chances but Black's resources should not be underestimated.) 16 dxc5!? (In the game
Ivanchuk Vallejo Pons/Morelia Linares 2006 White successfully played 16 axb5
cxd4 17 e4! which should have been met with a cautious 'it would have been
transposed into the game Ivanchuk Vallejo Pons/Morelia Linares 2006. Here
Black should have played a cautious' 17...e7!, avoiding risky pawn advances,
which may create targets for opponent's pieces ', avoiding risky pawn advances,
which may create targets for opponent's pieces.') 16...xc5 (In case of 16...xd1 17
fxd1 White gets a small but comfortable edge in the endgame.) 17 axb5 (17 e2!?,
intending to capture on b5 with the knight and avoiding the endgame, was also
interesting. A possible play would be 17...d7 18 xb5 c8 19 ad1 with somewhat
better chances for White) 17...d7 18 e1 c7 This position arose in the game
Vallejo Pons Perez Candelario/Leon 2006, which continued 19 d5 b6 And here
it was better to put the queen in the center by 20 e4, keeping the better chances.

14...xg7
The principled 14...gxf3 does not solve the problems. White gets a rather annoying
initiative after 15 xf3 xf3 (15...c7?! is strongly met by 16 b6! xb6 17 dxc5 xc5 18
11

a4 xf3 19 xf3 c6 20 xc6+ xc6 21 xc5 with a clear advantage in the ending) 16

xf3 d7 17 dxc5 xc3


a) Black has no time for 17...xg7? 18 fd1 xc5 19 xd7!+
b) 17...xc5 seems playable but it still couldn't solve the problems: 18 c6+ d7
19 d5! (19 fd1!? was also interesting: 19...c8 20 xa7 xc6 21 bxc6 b6
(21...xg7 22 dxd7 c8 23 e4+) 22 xd8+ xd8 23 xf7 e7 24 b5 with
winning chances) 19...c8 (19...exd5?? 20 fe1+ e7 21 xe7++) 20 f6+! e7 21
xg8+ xg8 22 b7 d6 23 xa7 c7 24 xc7! (24 a8) 24...xc7 25 xc7 d6
26 xc4 e5 27 d1+ e7 28 c7+ f6 29 f4+ and the bpawn supported by two
strong rooks should decide the game.
18 bxc3 xc5 19 fd1 c8 20 d6! and Black found himself in a hopeless position,
Kramnik Carlsen/Monte Carlo rapid 2007.

15 e5!
15 h4? is weaker. After 15...xg2 16 xg2 cxd4 17 e4 it would have been transposed
into the line with 14. Nh4, see the game Ivanchuk Vallejo Pons/Morelia Linares
2006.

15...xg2 16 xg2 cxd4


An inclusion of 16...f6?! 17 xg4 cxd4 is even worse. After 18 e1! dxc3 (18...e5 19 xe5!
fxe5 20 xe5+ f8 21 d5) 19 xe6+ e7 20 f3 d7 21 d1 c8 22 bxc3
White's attack could hardly be parried.

17 a4!
A series of energetic moves helps White to develop the initiative. However, the play is still
very concrete.

17...xc3
17...dxc3 can be met by 18 b6+ d7 19 fd1 f6 (19...f5? 20 xd7! xd7 21 d1 axb6 22 c6+)
20 xd7 xd7 21 bxc3 a5 (21...xc3? 22 xd7 xd7 23 xd7+ xd7 24 xa7+ c6 25
xa8 xb6 26 c8 b5 27 f3+) 22 xd7 xd7 23 xa5 with a clear advantage.

18 b6+! f8

12

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19 xc4!?
A good decision.
19 b5? fails to 19...a5! (not 19...a6? 20 c5+ and 21. b7 +) 20 c5+ e8 21 bxc3 d5+!
22 xd5 exd5 and Black is doing well.
However, White has another good option to claim the better chances: 19 bxc3!? xb6 20
xc4 b7+ 21 g1 d7 (21...dxc3?? 22 fb1+) 22 cxd4 and Black's king will never
be safe.

19...d7 20 xd7+ xd7


The game Postny M.Nikolov/Aghios Kirykos 2008 continued

21 c5+!?
A routine 21 bxc3 b7+ 22 g1 xb6 23 fb1 d8 (23...d6 24 a6 d7 25 d1 b7 26
d6!) 24 d1 was also better for White.

21...g8 22 bxc3 b7+ 23 g1

13

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In the position with only major pieces on the board a safety of a king is most important.
Here the difference between the kings is obvious so Black has to conduct a rather
unpleasant defence.

14

Botvinnik Variation/2 8. Bh4 g5 9. exf6


[D44]
Last updated: 16/08/10 by R.Scherbakov

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 f3 f6 4 c3 e6 5 g5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5
7 a4 can be met by a natural 7...b6

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In the Noteboom variation similar positions often arise, but Black is usually forced to
protect the b5pawn with the rather undesirable ...f8b4.
a) Black also has some playable alternatives. 7...b4 8 b1 a6 (8...e7 9 e5 d5 10
xe7 xe7 11 xc4 gives White a small advantage as his knight has good chances to
get to d6) 9 c1 c3 10 bxc3 xf1 11 xf1 bd7 (11...h6 seems to be weaker: 12 xf6
xf6 13 bd2 bxc3 14 xc3 a5 15 c4 b4 16 d3 0-0 17 d1 d7 18 g3 with a small but
lasting edge) 12 bd2 (12 g3 can be met by the immediate 12...c5 13 g2 c8 14 cxb4
cxb4 15 b2 h6 16 xf6 xf6 17 bd2 e7 18 hc1 0-0 with good play for Black) 12...c5
13 d5!? (13 e5 gives nothing due to 13...h6 with an unclear position) 13...e7 14 dxe6
fxe6 15 cxb4 cxb4 16 c6 In the game Dizdar Sveshnikov/Bled 1999 Black came
up with an interesting 16...0-0!? and after 17 xe6+ h8 18 e5 d5 19 xd5 xg5
20 e4 e7 and achieved a good compensation for the pawn. White has something
to do with his king and also has to be care about the a4pawn. Yet, White would
probably secure the extra pawn in a more favourable situation
b) in the position after 7...b7 8 axb5 (8 e5 can transpose to another line after 8...h6
9 h4 (9 d2!? leads to complicated and unclear positions) 9...g5 10 exf6 gxh4 11

15

e5 xf6 which is unclear and quite acceptable for Black) 8...cxb5 9 xb5 b4+
10 c3 xe4 Black sometimes faces problems
8 xf6 gxf6 9 e2 b7 (in case of 9...a6 10 0-0 b7 White can start direct actions with 11
b3!? (11 d5 can be met by the cool 11...d7) 11...b4 (11...cxb3!? was also tried: 12 xb3
d7 13 d5 c5!? 14 b1 e7 15 dxc6 xc6 16 axb5 axb5 17 xa8+ xa8 18 xb5+ f8= and
Black is okay) 12 a5 c7 13 a4 c3 14 b6 a7 White has allowed Black to get a
strong passed pawn on c3, but he has gained some compensation for this. All the
White pieces (especially the minor pieces) look good, and it's impossible to say the
same about the unattractively placed Black forces. White is obviously going to break
open the position with d4d5, so Black should take care of his potentially shaky
king. The game Comas Fabrego Korneev/chTESP Div 1999 continued by 15 c4
d7 16 d5 cxd5 17 exd5 e5 with complicated play with mutual chances) 10 0-0 d7
Black shouldn't be worried to move his queen to a6 after a4a5. 11 d5 This direct
attempt looks dangerous but actually Black is okay. (11 b3!? comes into
consideration) 11...a6 (11...cxd5!? 12 exd5 b4 deserves serious attention: 13 a5 a6! 14
dxe6 fxe6 15 a4 g8! with a very good play) 12 dxe6 (12 d4 can be met by 12...cxd5!
13 exd5 c5) 12...fxe6 13 d4 c5! 14 h5+ d8 Not a usual placement for the king
but he feels quite safe here. Black's chances are already preferable, Peev
Ivanisevic/Lazarevac 1999.

7...h6 8 h4 g5

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9 exf6
This alternative to the main 9. g5 does not promise too much.
9 g3 is rarely played but is not without interest see the chapter D43 Moscow Variation/4
Early 8.e5.

9...gxh4 10 e5 xf6

16

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11 a4

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11 g3!? recently gained some popularity White develops his bishop first of all. However,
Black still keeps good counter chances. 11...d7
a) Black tried some other options and some of them are worthy of consideration:
11...g7 12 g2 0-0 13 0-0 (13 xb5 can be met with 13...h3!? 14 e4 e7) 13...a6 14
a4 with compensation
b) Perhaps 11...b7 is the strongest continuation: 12 g2 h3!? (12...e7!? seems
playable as well: 13 0-0 h3 14 e4 g7 15 h5 0-0) 13 e4 (or 13 f3 d7 14 xc6 xc6 15
xc6 a6 with excellent play) 13...d7 14 f4 xe5 15 dxe5 e7 16 0-0 (16 f3?! gives
Black the better chances after 16...0-0-0!) 16...g7 and Black can be satisfied with his
position.
12 e2

17

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(12 f4 does not put any problems for Black: 12...b7 13 g2 xe5 14 dxe5 d8 with a good play)

12...c5
a) Black often tried 12...xe5 13 dxe5 e7 (13...f5 14 g2 was better for White in
the game Kobalia Skatchkov, Sochi 1998, but 13...d8!? is playable ) 14 g2 b7
15 0-0-0 g7 16 f4 with a rather unclear position, which might promise chances for
both sides, according to tournament practice it means Black can be more or less
satisfied with that.
b) 12...b7 13 g2 xe5 14 dxe5 leads to the same as above.
13 c6 (Among other White's options, leading to crazy complications, we should pay more
attention to 13 e4!? b8 14 c6 b7 with extremely sharp play. Black is doing well
according to the practice but it's still may be a wide field for research) 13...b7! It
seems that this queen sacrifice is the only way for Black to solve his problems. (The
position after 13...e5?! 14 d5 (14 xe5 can be answered with 14...b7 and White
cannot get any benefit from discovered check) 14...b7 15 h3! is better for White
since a capture of the knight on c6 leaves Black with seriously weakened light
squares while it is not so easy to ignore such knight) 14 d5 xc6 15 xf6+ xf6
16 d5 (In case of 16 g1 cxd4 17 e5 b4+ 18 d1 e7 Black's position looked strong
enough) 16...xd5 17 g2 g7 The game Jobava Cheparinov/Wijk aan Zee B
2006 continued 18 a4 0-0 19 axb5 xb5 20 0-0 a6 with excellent compensation for
the queen.

11...b7
11...h3!? is also very interesting: 12 g3 c5!

18

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(Black has to hurry up with this push otherwise White would be fine after 12...b7?! 13 xh3
c5 14 0-0) 13 f4! A logical decision. Since the pawn on d4 has been undermined by

c5 White fortifies the pride of his position the knight on e5.


a) After 13 xb5 Black has to be brave to ignore the threat Nb5c7: 13...cxd4! 14
c7+ d8 15 xd4+ d7 (15...xc7 16 xc4+) 16 xa8 b4+! with a big
advantage
b) In case of 13 xh3 Black realises advantages of his position by 13...cxd4 14 g4
(14 xd4 d7 followed by ...Bf8c5 is very good for Black but maybe it is the best
continuation) 14...g7 15 f3 It looks like White is on top, however... 15...dxc3!!
16 xa8 (Black is winning after 16 0-0 cxb2 17 ad1 f5!! 18 xa8 b7!-+) 16...cxb2 17
d1 b4+ 18 e2 c3! 19 xb8 0-0 The Black king is safe and the faradvanced
passed pawn will cost too much soon, Tukmakov Khenkin/Iraklion 1992.
13...cxd4 (13...b7 is another possibility: 14 g1 g7 15 axb5 (15 xb5 is unclear:
15...e7 (15...0-0!?) 16 dxc5 xe5 17 fxe5 xc5 18 d6 e3+ 19 e2 a6 20 d4
xd4 21 xd4 with a sharp ending) This position occurred in the game
P.Cramling Doornbos/chTFRA 1999. Here 15...d7!? deserved serious attention
with a good play for Black) 14 xd4 d7 15 d1 b4 16 xh3 xe5 17 fxe5 e7
18 g2 (In case of 18 axb5 b7 19 f1 d5 with the idea of ...Ra8d8 or just ...Bb4c3
and ...Ra8b8 Black seems to be okay) 18...b7 19 xb7 xb7 20 0-0 b6 21
xb6 axb6 22 axb5 This position arose in the game Bellon Lopez
L.Dominguez/Santa Clara 1999. Thanks to more active rooks White looks slightly
better in this ending but Black shouldn't have too much trouble holding the balance.
The immediate Black sometimes goes for 11...c5!? is also interesting.
11...b4 is not very popular. In the game Bellon Lopez Norqvist/Stockholm 2006 White
got the better chances after 12 e2 (12 g3!? deserves serious attention) 12...b7 13
f3 e7 14 0-0

12 axb5

19

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12 e2 is also played, after which Black may consider the same 12...h3!? with unclear
play (or 12...c5 )

12...cxb5
Black also tried a crazylooking but typical 12...c5 but it seems that White's chances are
preferable after a cool 13 e2 For example, 13...xg2
a) 13...g7 14 xc4 0-0 15 dxc5 is better for White
b) 13...h3 14 f3 xf3 15 gxf3 g7? 16 b6!+
c) 13...cxd4 14 xd4 g7 15 f4 xg2 16 e4!
d) 13...g8 14 f3 xf3 15 gxf3 cxd4 (15...d8!?) 16 xd4
14 g1 h3 15 b6! with initiative.

13 xc4!
The only way.
13 xb5 does not promise much due to 13...b4+ 14 c3 0-0 with excellent play for
Black.

13...a6
The bishop is untouchable: 13...bxc4? 14 a4+ d8 15 a5+ c8 (15...e8 16 b5++) 16
a4!+ with decisive attack
13...d6 is playable but it does not completely solves the problems: 14 xb5+ e7 (or
14...f8 15 0-0 g8 16 g3 f5 17 e1) 15 g4!? (15 0-0 g8 16 g3 f5) 15...f4 Here an
immediate action in center 16 d5!? might promise better chances for White.

14 xb5! axb5
14...b4+!? is worthy of consideration: 15 c3 and here a restrained 15...0-0!? is not so
bad for Black (while 15...xc3+?! 16 bxc3 xg2 is too risky: 17 g1 h3 18 a4+ f8 19
e2! followed by Be2f3 give White clearly better chances.)

20

15 xb5+ d8 16 xa8 xa8 17 a4

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White has sacrificed a piece but his attacking forces do not look very powerful. However,
Black has no time to keep material advantage.

17...d6!
Both 17...xg2? 18 a7! c8 (18...d6 19 xf7+ xf7 20 xf7 f8 21 xe6 b4+ 22 e2 xh1
23 b6+! e7 24 c7+ f6 25 e5+ g6 26 d3+ f7 27 d5!+) 19 d7+! xd7 20
xd7+ b8 21 f3!! xf3 (21...b4+? 22 f2 xf3 23 xf3+ e7 24 b5++) 22 b5+!
a7 (22...c7 23 f1+ g5 24 c4+! b6 25 xf3+) 23 f1 e7 24 f2!+
and 17...d5? 18 a7 c8 19 d7+ xd7 20 xd7+ b8 21 b5+! c7 22 0-0 g5 23
g3+ were completely unsatisfactory for Black.

18 c4

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After 18 xa8 xe5 19 dxe5 xe5+ 20 e2 xb2 (20...h3 21 0-0!) 21 0-0 e7 22 e4 d7
23 xh4+ f8 Black should be able to defend without serious problems.

18...xg2!
21

The most precise way to keep balance.


18...c7 19 xa8 still gives White the better chances: 19...g5 20 b7 c1+ 21 e2
xh1 22 e5! despite Black has a whole extra rook at the moment. Here the best
defence is 22...h7!
a) 22...f8? fails to 23 c6+! xc6 24 xc6 e7 25 xc7+ f6 26 e5+ g6
(26...e7 27 c5++) 27 d3+ f5 28 xe6+ g7 29 c4 c1 30 e7+ g6 31 xf8
xc4+ 32 e3 c1+ 33 d3!+
b) 22...c1?! is also dubious: 23 xf7+ e7 24 xh8 xb2+ 25 f3 c3+ 26 g4
xd4+ 27 h3 d6! (27...b6? failed to 28 c8 xb5 29 xc7+ d7 30 g6+ f6 31
xh4+ with technically winning position) 28 g3! (28 f4?! f6!) 28...hxg3 29 f3!
c5 30 f7+ d6 31 f8+ d5 32 f3+ d6 33 d3+ e7 34 h7+ d6 35
f7+ d5 36 d3+ d4 37 b3+ c5 38 e2! and White still keeps a rather
annoying initiative
c) while after 22...xe5?? 23 dxe5+ it's mate in 6 moves!
23 c6+ xc6 24 xc6 e7 (not 24...c8?? 25 e8+ b7 26 c6+ b6 27 a8!+) 25 xc7+
f8 26 d3 h8 27 e4 a1 28 b8+ g7 29 e5+ g8 30 d5 a6+ 31 f3
b5! and Black should hold on
18...xd4?! is dubious: 19 xa8 b4+ 20 e2 g4+ 21 f3 xf3+ 22 xf3 The ending
is better for White thanks to his more active pieces and the passed pawn on the Q
side, Gustafsson Berczes/GERchT 2008.

19 xd6 xh1 20 a7

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20...g6
20...f3!? is also possible: 21 xf7+ (21 e8 f4) 21...c8 etc.

21 xf7+
Or 21 xb8+ e7 22 xh8 b1+ 23 e2 xb2+=

21...c8 22 d6+ d8 23 xb8+


22

23 d2? f8

23...e7 24 xh8 b1+ 25 d2 xb2+=

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Black gives perpetual check.

23

Botvinnik Variation/3 8. Bh4 g5 9. Nxg5


Nd5 [D44]
Last updated: 20/05/06 by R.Scherbakov

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 f3 f6 4 c3 e6 5 g5 dxc4 6 e4 b5

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7 e5 h6 8 h4 g5 9 xg5 d5

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This idea does not have a good reputation White gets a serious material advantage while
Black's counter chances do not look too promising as his king is rather vulnerable.
24

10 xf7!
A principled continuation.
10 f3 is an alternative which leads to doubleedged play after 10...a5 11 d2 b4 12
c1 d7 13 e2 b7 14 0-0 c5

10...xh4 11 xh8
White has obtained a big material advantage, but his knight is cut off from the main army.
Black also has the possibility of creating threats on the queenside and in the centre,
utilising White's lack of development.

11...b4

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12 c1
12 a3!? is very interesting attempt which at first glance looks like a blunder. 12...xc3
(12...a5 is possible, but the fact that the bishop is on a5 is definitely in White's
favour in the main lines) 13 f3! The point. 13...xd4 14 h5+! An important
intermezzo which defends the e5pawn. 14...d8 15 axb4 d5 (15...e4+ does not
solve the problems: 16 e2 xe2 17 xe2 h7 18 d2+ c7 19 d6+ b7 20 d1 xh8 21
e7+ d7 22 f4 e8 23 g7 followed by 0-0 and f4f5 and Black will not manage to
develop his queenside in time) 16 e2 White is simply going to complete his
development. His knight is quite safe as it has assistance from the queen. 16...c3
(maybe the simple capture 16...xb2!? 17 0-0 xb4 was stronger but after 18 f7+
c7 19 d6 or (19 xh6 White seems to be much better.) ) 17 d1 (17 0-0!?
deserves attention: 17...cxb2 18 ab1 xb4 19 xh6 c7 (19...c3? 20 d2+) 20
f7 with a clear advantage.) 17...xb4 18 bxc3! xc3+ 19 f1 c7 20 h4!
White's last piece comes into play while Black's army cannot be developed so
quickly. White has a clear advantage, Eingorn Stanojoski/Metz 2000.
12 d2 c5 13 0-0-0 is another line which leads to a very sharp and complicated struggle.

25

12...c5
12...e4+?! is known to be unsatisfactory for Black due to 13 e2 f4 (13...xc3+ 14 bxc3
f4 can be met by 15 c2 xc2 16 xc2 f8 17 g3 d3+ 18 xd3 cxd3 19 d2 with a huge
advantage in the ending: 19...g7 20 xd3 xh8 21 g4 d7 22 f4 b6 23 f1 followed by
f4f5f6, g4g5 and so on) 14 d2! (14 a3 is unclear: 14...xg2+ 15 f1 e3+ 16 fxe3
xh1+ 17 f2 xh2+ 18 e1 with mutual chances, 14 f3?! can hardly be recommended
due to 14...h7 winning the knight) 14...d3+ After the tactical operation
(14...xg2+?! 15 d1 xc3 16 bxc3 e3+ 17 xe3 xh1+ 18 d2+ Black finds himself in
big trouble. In order to equalise the material balance he has swapped off all his
developed pieces, and his king is now absolutely defenceless) 15 f1 xc1 (15...h7
is equally bad: 16 h5+ d7 17 g6 xc1 18 xc1 c7 19 h4 d7 20 e4 a6 21 h3 e7
22 f6 g7 23 f3 with a big advantage) 16 xc1 xd4 17 xh6 xc3 18 bxc3 xc3
19 g3 The knight on h8 has suddenly become very strong thanks to the assistance
of the queen. With his last move White secures his king, but his Black counterpart is
faced with big problems. Black has only his queen developed and this is obviously
not good enough to successfully fight against White's superior forces. White's
prospects are much better, as was proved in the game Lastin Sveshnikov/chT
YUG, Vrnjacka Banja 1999.

13 dxc5 d7
13...g5?! is a dubious alternative. White should probably continue with 14 e2 b7 15
h5+! f8 16 f3+ g7 17 0-0 xh8 18 f8+ g8 (18...h7 19 f3+) 19 xh6+
h7 20 xh7+ xh7 21 xb5 with much better prospects in the ending
13...xc3+?! is also not good: 14 bxc3 g5 15 e2 b7 16 0-0 with a big advantage as
Black does not have 16...xc3? because of 17 h5+ f8 18 d6+ g8 (18...g7 19
c7++) 19 xe6+ xh8 20 e8+ g8 21 xg8+ xg8 22 xc3+ with decisive
advantage
13...e4+ was tried in the game Eriksson S. Ivanov/Stockholm 2002. The idea is not
without interest but generally it looks suspicious. After 14 e2 xc3+ 15 bxc3 f4
16 g1 b7 17 f1 Black should have played 17...d5 and the position looks not so
clear. (17...f5? turned out to be bad: 18 g4! xe5 19 d8+! xd8 20 f7+ e7 21 xe5
with an almost winning endgame)

14 e2 xe5
14...b7 can be met by 15 h5+ d8 16 0-0 xc3 17 xc3! c7 (17...xc3 18 f7+! c8 19
bxc3) 18 g6 e4 19 g3 xc5 20 f3 f5 21 d4 b6 22 b4! cxb3 23 axb3 and
Black is hopelessly lost.

15 0-0 b7

26

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An important position for this line.
15...xc3? is known to be bad: 16 xc3! xc3 17 h5+ f8 18 d6+ g8 19 xe5 d5
20 f7+ h7 21 xe6 xe6 22 xe6 g5 23 g6! (23 f7? xg2+!) 23...g8 24 f4!
f6 25 xd5+ with decisive advantage.

16 h5+
The direct 16 xb5!? is also worthy of consideration: 16...0-0-0!?
a) Other moves seem to be even worse: 16...d8? 17 a4 f4 18 d4+ f8 19
xe6+! xe6 20 xb4 c6 21 f4 g8 22 e1! xe1 23 cxe1 and Black should
resign
b) A tempting 16...xc5? has a nice tactical refutation: 17 g6! xg6 (17...g5 18
xe5 xe5 19 xc4+) 18 xc4 df4 (18...e7 19 h5 f7 20 xg6+ xg6 21 c2++) 19
xc5 d8 (19...xg2 20 c7+ f7 21 xa8 xa8 22 f3+) 20 d6+ f8! (20...xd6?!
loses to 21 b5+! f7 22 xd6+) 21 xb7 xd1 22 xd1 xg2! Only this move
promises some chances to survive. 23 c8+ (23 xg2 e4+ 24 f3 xb7) 23...g7 24
c7+ f6 25 xg2 e4+ 26 f3 (26 g1? h4 27 f3 g6+ 28 f2 g2+ 29 e1 xb2)
26...e5 27 h7 (27 c2?! f4+ 28 g1 h3+ 29 h1 b5) 27...xb2+ 28 h1 f8 29
xh6+ g5 30 h3 xb7 and Black is still fighting.
17 d6+!? A tempting continuation. (17 c6!? was supposed to be the best White's option
but it is maybe not a simple true: 17...f4! The only way! 18 cxb7+ b8 19 c2!
(the position after 19 a4 xe2+ 20 h1 a5! is much less clear: 21 g6!? (21 cd1
xh8 seems just better for Black) 21...xg6 22 cd1 e5! with a good
counterplay, for example: 23 c2 d4 24 xd4 xd4 25 h7 d7 26 h8+ xb7
27 xe5 g5! and in the endgame the White's Qside is in danger) 19...d2 20 h7
xe2+ 21 h1 d7 (preventing Qh7c7 checkmate) 22 g8+ xb7 23 xe6 xc1
24 xe5 d3 25 f5 Two extra pawns promise White better chances but Black is
not without a counter play. Besides, Black might probably find an improvement.)
17...xd6! The only way. (The king's retreat is just lost: 17...b8? 18 xb7 xb7 19
f7! xf7 20 xc4 g5 21 b3+ and so on.) 18 cxd6 xd6 The sacrifice of two
exchanges makes a great impression Black's minor pieces look very powerful.
However, his king is not quite safe and White can possibly exploit this fact by
playing 19 h3!
27

a) 19 e1?! is pointless as after 19...c5! the rook should go back


b) 19 g3?? is a big mistake, which was played in the game Almeida Otero/Havana
2002. Here Black could have achieved decisive advantage by 19...h3! 20 xc4+
(20 f3 xf3+ 21 xf3 b6-+) 20...xc4 21 f3 (21 g4 f4!!) 21...e5
19...f4 20 g4 c5 Black's minor pieces look threatening but White has a wonderful
resource 21 f7!! (21 a4 gives nothing: 21...xg2! 22 xc4 c6 23 a6+ (23
xc6+ xc6 24 xc5 b7) 23...c7 24 a5+ b7 25 xc5 xh3+! 26 xh3 f3+
27 g2 e1+= with perpetual check) 21...xf7 (21...xg4 22 xg4 xg4 23 hxg4 e2+
24 h2 xc1 25 xc1+, 21...g3?? 22 d8#, 21...ed3 22 d6+! xd6 23 xc4+ b8 24
xf4!+) 22 xc4 xh3+ 23 xh3 xc4 24 b3! and the queen has no good square to

retreat as 24...d5? loses to 25 xd5 xd5 26 c1+

16...e7 17 e2!
White has also tested some other possibilities: 17 xd5+ xd5 18 f4 xc5+ 19 h1 g8!
20 c2 d3! 21 g6+ xg6 22 xg6 xf4 23 xf4 xf4 and the Black bishops
are dominating
17 e1 looks convincing but Black has a lot of counter resources. 17...g8! The last piece
comes into play! (17...xc5? was much weaker as after 18 g6+! White distracts a
very strong knight: 18...xg6 19 xd5+ xd5 20 xd5 and Black's compensation after
20...xf2+ 21 h1 g1+! 22 xg1 exd5 seems insufficient) This position arose in the
game Almeida Otero/Copa Plaza 2002. It was the time to force a draw by 18 xe5
(it's hard to believe but after 18 g6+? xg6 19 xg6 xc5 White could hardly parry
Black's initiative) 18...xg2+! 19 xg2 f4+ (19...xc3+?? 20 f3 xd1 21 g6++) 20
f1 h3+ 21 e1 g2+ 22 e2 f4+ 23 e1 (23 d2?? d3+ 24 e1 g2#)
23...g2+= with perpetual check.

17...g8 18 xe5 xg2+ 19 h1


Of course, not 19 xg2?? f4+ 20 g1 h3#

19...f4

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9-+-+p+-zp0
9+pzP-wQ-+L0
9-vlp+-sn-wq0
9+-sN-+-+-0
9PzP-+-zPrzP0
9+-tR-+R+K0
xiiiiiiiiy

28

20 g6+!!
This move comes as a shock the knight, which seemed to completely out of play, helps
White to get a very important tempo. This idea of Pablo San Segundo maybe closes
down the whole variation!
20 d6+ f6 21 f8+ looks also promising but in fact it is not so easy to prove White's
winning chances: 21...g5 22 f7+! xh5 (22...f5 is losing to 23 d6+ g5 24 e7+
xh5 25 xh4+ xh4 26 xb7 h3 27 fd1 xh2+ 28 g1 g2+ 29 f1+) 23 xh6+ g4
24 e5+ h3 25 xh4+ xh4 26 c6 h3! The king's march is very impressive! 27
fe1 xh2+ 28 g1 g2+ 29 f1 xc6 30 e3+! (not 30 xc6?? due to 30...h2! and
White cannot prevent checkmate!) 30...h2 31 g3 The only defence. 31...xg3 32
fxg3 g2+ 33 f2 and here Black should probably play 33...h3+! (33...c5+?! 34
e1 xg3 35 xb5 gives White winning chances) 34 e2 (34 e3 c5+) 34...a6 and
White can hardly play for a win, for example 35 a4 (35 g4 g3) 35...d6 36 f3+
xg3 37 e4+ f4 38 xd6 xf3+ 39 d2 e5 and so on.

20...xg6+
20...xg6 is losing by force: 21 g7+ d8 22 cd1+ d5 23 xd5+! exd5 24 g8+ c7
25 xd5+ c6 and here White has some possibilities, for instance, 26 xb4+ xc5
27 d5+ xb4 28 d2+ c5 29 e3+ c6 30 f3+ followed by Bf3g2.

21 f3

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+-+-+-+0
9zpl+-mk-+-0
9-+-+p+rzp0
9+pzP-wQ-+L0
9-vlp+-sn-wq0
9+-sN-+P+-0
9PzP-+-+-zP0
9+-tR-+R+K0
xiiiiiiiiy
There is no more mating threats for the White king and Black just cannot prevent numerous
threats.

21...xh5
It is impossible to resume the mating threat by 21...g2? as Black was losing his queen
after 22 d6+ f6 23 d8+ and Qd8h4+
21...g5 is equally bad: 22 c7+ f6 23 e4+!? (23 g1 was more prosaic: 23...xh5 24
xg5 (24 xb7 was the only Black's chance: 24...g3+!! 25 hxg3 h5+ 26 g2 xg3+! 27
29

xg3 g5+ and it is maybe already a draw) 24...xf3+ 25 g1 xg5+ 26 f2 f5 27

f1+ and so on) 23...xe4 24 xf4+!! xf4 25 fxe4 g5 26 xf4 xh5 27 c6 and
White is winning: 27...d2 28 f3! xc1 29 h3+, promoting the cpawn.

22 c7+ f8 23 b8+ g7 24 xb7+ h8 25 e2+

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+-+-+-mk0
9zpQ+-+-+-0
9-+-+p+rzp0
9+pzP-+-+n0
9-vlp+-+-wq0
9+-+-+P+-0
9PzP-+N+-zP0
9+-tR-+R+K0
xiiiiiiiiy
White has secured material advantage while Black cannot create any threats for the White
king, he even cannot take the c5pawn and get his bishop into play, San Segundo
Carrillo Vera/Benidorm 2002.

30

Botvinnik Variation/4 Deviations after


11. ef6 [D44]
Last updated: 21/11/06 by R.Scherbakov

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 f3 f6 4 c3 e6 5 g5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 h4 g5 9
xg5 hxg5 10 xg5 bd7

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+lwqkvl-tr0
9zp-+n+p+-0
9-+p+psn-+0
9+p+-zP-vL-0
9-+pzP-+-+0
9+-sN-+-+-0
9PzP-+-zPPzP0
9tR-+QmKL+R0
xiiiiiiiiy
This is the initial position of the Botvinnik variation. White has two main moves: 11. ef6
and 11. g3 which often lead to the same position, although there is some difference,
mainly: after 11. ef6 Black has such extra possibilities as 11 ...Bb7 12. g3 c5 13. d5
Ne5, 13 ...Bh6 or 13 ... Nf6 while after 11. g3 the main alternatives are: 11 ...Qa5 or
11 ...Rg8.

11 exf6 b7 12 g3 c5
Recently 12...c7!? gained some popularity: 13 g2 c5

31

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+-+kvl-tr0
9zplwqn+p+-0
9-+-+pzP-+0
9+pzp-+-vL-0
9-+pzP-+-+0
9+-sN-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+QmK-+R0
xiiiiiiiiy
14 d5 (a simple 14 0-0!? is actually very interesting: 14...xg2 15 xg2 b7+ (An
immediate 15...0-0-0!? may lead to similar play: 16 dxc5!? c6+ 17 f3 xc5 18 e2 and so
on) 16 f3 0-0-0 17 dxc5! Consistent play White is opening the Qside. (17 d5 does
not promise much: 17...b6 18 xb5 xd5 19 a4 a6 20 a3 xb2+ 21 c2 b5 with
excellent play) 17...xc5 18 e2 d3 19 e4
a) It is not so clear if the inclusion of 19 a4!? b4 is useful for White: 20 e4 d5 21
fd1 b3 and Black has fortified his position on the Qside 'and Black has fortified
his position on the Qside.'
b) 19 ad1!? is interesting: 19...c5 20 e4 b6 21 b3 d5 22 bxc4 bxc4 Black's
pieces are more active at the moment but his king is much more vulnerable and
besides he is a pawn down. The game Werle Shabalov/Willemstad 2006 continued
23 e3 h5 (23...dg8!? deserved attention, keeping in mind such options as Qd5h5
or maybe Rh8h4) 24 b1 c6 25 fd1 e5 Black decided to concentrate his forces
in center. 26 g1 dd5 27 h4 and White has got somewhat better chances.
19...c6 (19...h6?! is dubious: 20 xh6 xh6 21 b3 b6 22 bxc4 bxc4 23 c2 c6 24 ab1, while
after 19...d5 20 h4 b7 21 fd1 c5 22 b3! Black found nothing to oppose White'
simple play on the Qside in the game Greet Ashton/GBRch Douglas 2005:
22...b6 23 c3 c6 24 bxc4 bxc4 25 ab1 d4 26 b5! and so on) 20 b3!? a3 21 bxc4
bxc4 22 ab1 d5 23 e3 g8 24 c2 and White eventually got to the black king
by very simple means, Zakharevich Kornev/St.Petersburg 2005. It must be
mentioned that the approach 14. 0-0!? can be played only through 11. g3 order of
moves since Black can play ...Qd8c7 after an inclusion of the moves 12 ...c5 13.
d5) 14...b4! An interesting idea of GM Lenier Dominguez. (Black's only option used
to be 14...e5+?! 15 e2 0-0-0 16 dxe6 xe2+ 17 xe2 xg2 18 e7! (This is much
stronger than 18 exd7+ xd7 19 hd1 b4 20 xd7 xd7 21 d1 e4! with a very good
endgame) 18...xe7 19 fxe7 dg8 This position was tested several times and White
seems to be better. In the game Lesiege Khassanov/Montreal 2001 White came up
with an interesting 20 h4!? and after the dubious (20 xb5, 20 f4 would promise the
edge for White) 20...g6?! (20...xh1!? 21 xh1 a6 was better. After the possible 22 e1
g6 23 f3 e8 Black didn't look too bad.) 21 xb5!? e6+ 22 d2 xh1 23 xh1 a6
24 a3 e5 25 e3 White exploited Black's pawn weaknesses little by little.) 15
d6! This pawn advance seems to be critical for the assessment of this line. (15 b5
b6 16 dxe6 leads to very complicated play after 16...xe6+ 17 f1 0-0-0! 18 xa7+ b8
32

19 a4 xg2+ 20 xg2 b7! and White should give up his knight although the position
after 21 b5 c6+ 22 f3 a8 23 d1 xb5 24 d5+ c6 25 xf7 d6 is very unclear, The
knight sacrifice 15 0-0 is interesting but it's probably not the best White's option:
15...bxc3 16 dxe6 fxe6 17 e2 f7 18 fe1 e8 19 xb7 xb7 20 bxc3 Black has got an extra

piece but his king is not quite safe as it has no pawn shield. Besides, White has some
extra pawns and if he would advance his Kside pawns the Black king might face
real danger. The position is unclear but, fairly, White does not seem to be able to
play for a win, Almeida Dominguez/CUBch Holguin 2002) 15...b6 16 e4
d5!?
a) The early knight sortie 16...e5 is probably not the best way to treat the position:
17 0-0 0-0-0 18 e2 d5 19 fd1 c6!? (in case of 19...c6 White can play 20 a3 b3
21 xd5! exd5 22 c3 with annoying initiative) 20 ac1 xd6 The game P.H.Nielsen
Smeets/Wijk aan Zee B 2005 continued 21 xc4!? Black's lightsquared bishop is
probably the most efficient piece in such position so White is always happy to get
rid of it even by some material concessions. 21...xc4 22 xc4 with better chances
for White
b) 16...0-0-0 17 0-0 d5 leads to the same
17 0-0
a) other options are also worthy of consideration: 17 f4!? c6 18 f3 0-0-0 19 0-0
e5 (or 19...h6 20 d2 xf4 21 xf4) 20 e3 xd6 21 a3 b3 22 d2 c7 23 ad1
xe4 24 fxe4 b6 25 e2 b7 26 d5 xd5 27 exd5 d6 28 xc4
b) 17 a4!? 0-0-0 18 0-0 xd6 19 xd6+ xd6 20 fd1 b7 21 a3 b6 22 a5
with better chances for White
17...0-0-0 18 e2 (White has tried other options: 18 a3!? b3 19 f4 c6 20 f3 xe4 21 fxe4 e5 22
e3 b6 23 a4, 18 f4 xd6 19 c1 c7 20 e2 with somewhat better chances in both
cases) 18...xd6 (18...c6?! 19 b3 b6 20 f4 xd6 21 xd6 xe4 22 xe4 xd6 23 ad1
c7 24 bxc4 White's chances are preferable. Both sides have got pawn superiority of
flanks but the bishop is usually much more effective in such cases. Besides, White
can also put problems for the opponent's king, which has been demonstrated in the
game Van Wely Agrest/ECC Feugen 2006) 19 a3 (19 f4!? c7 20 ac1 deserves
attention, 19 xd6+ xd6 20 f4 c6 is okay for Black) 19...b3 This position arose in
the game Ionov Solovjov/St.Petersburg 2005. White could have achieved
somewhat better chances by 20 ac1 (in case of 20 xd6+ xd6 21 f4 c6 22 f3 Black
could think about 22...c3!? 23 bxc3 c4 with complicated play) 20...e5 21 fd1

13 d5

33

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+-wqkvl-tr0
9zpl+n+p+-0
9-+-+pzP-+0
9+pzpP+-vL-0
9-+p+-+-+0
9+-sN-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zP-zP0
9tR-+QmKL+R0
xiiiiiiiiy
Here Black has a lot of alternatives to the main 13 ...Qb6.

13...xf6
The other side line is
13...b6?! was proved to be dubious due to a brilliant idea of Lev Polugaevsky: 14 dxe6!
xh1 15 e7 xd1+?! Later Black found a more stubborn way but it does not help to
solve the problems: (15...d7!? 16 xd7+! after (16 f3?! xe7 17 fxe7 f6! 18 xf6 xh2
Black has good counter chances) 16...xd7 or (16...xd7 17 d1+ c6 18 d8 xe7 19
fxe7) 17 xb5 xe7 18 fxe7 f6 19 e3 xe7 20 h4 with a clear advantage) 16
xd1 a6 17 h4!! This is the point. Having sacrificed a rook in the ending, White does
not have it in mind to win some material back. (17 exf8+?! leads to unclear play
after 17...xf8 18 d6 b8 19 e3 h5 20 e2 e5) 17...h6 18 f4!! White's genius idea
is clearer now: although Black is a rook up, it doesn't seems to be so as the rook h8
is completely out of play and there is no way to get back in. 18...b4 19 d6! b8
(19...bxc3 20 xb6 cxb2 21 xc4 followed by Rb2 was hopeless for Black) 20 d1 xg5
21 fxg5 d5 22 xc4 xe7 Forced otherwise black just cannot make progress in
developing the rook on h8. 23 fxe7 xe7 24 f6 hf8 25 e3 with a huge
advantage, Polugaevsky Torre/Moskva 1981.
13...e5 is a rare guest in tournament practice. 14 g2 d3+ (14...h6? is bad because of
the unexpected 15 h5! b4 16 0-0! bxc3 17 ae1! with decisive attack) 15 f1 Black
has prevented White from castling but this is at a cost. 15...d7 (15...exd5? looks bad
for Black after 16 e2+ d7 17 xd5) 16 dxe6 fxe6 Capturing on e6 with the queen
looks dubious: (16...xg2+ 17 xg2 xe6 18 f3 and the Black king is in trouble.) 17
e2 an immediate attempt to loosen Black's queenside with (17 b3 doesn't bring
desired effect: 17...0-0-0 18 bxc4 h6! with a good counterplay) 17...0-0-0 18 h4!?
White's prospects are certainly better. The fact that the Black pawn is on e6 instead
of f7 favours White a great deal as here he has a strong passed fpawn. The knight
looks very strong on d3, but White can loosen its support by b2b3 and
simultaneously open files against the Black king. The question is can Black exploit
the poor placement of the White king in the game Beliavsky Zaja/ Pula 2000 he
failed to do that.
13...h6
34

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+-wqk+-tr0
9zpl+n+p+-0
9-+-+pzP-vl0
9+pzpP+-vL-0
9-+p+-+-+0
9+-sN-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zP-zP0
9tR-+QmKL+R0
xiiiiiiiiy
is another possible deviation from the main line. The most principled approach seems to be
14 xh6 xh6 15 d2 xf6 16 e4 (16 0-0-0 f8 is known to be slightly better for
White) 16...f3 17 d6+ e7 18 xb7 h5! (18...xh1? is bad for Black due to 19
d6+ e8 20 xh6 e4+ (20...xb7?! 21 0-0-0 f8 22 f6+) 21 e2 h1+ 22 d2
xb7 23 d1 f8 24 c1 and so on.) 19 d6+ (19 g1 was also tried but it looks
like after 19...xd5! (19...c3?! is worse due to 20 c2! e5+ 21 e2 cxb2 22 d1 exd5 23
xb2 with idea Nb7xc5) 20 g2 xd2 21 xf3 xb2 Black has good
compensation for the piece) 19...e8 20 g1 c3!? An interesting option. (20...e5+ 21
e2 xb7 22 0-0-0 is supposed to be not quite satisfactory for Black.) 21 bxc3 e5+
22 e2 xe2+! 23 xe2 xc3+ 24 f1 xa1+ 25 g2

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+-+k+-+0
9zpN+n+p+-0
9-+-zPp+-+0
9+pzp-+-+-0
9-+-+-+-+0
9+-+-+-zP-0
9P+-+QzPKzP0
9wq-+-+-tR-0
xiiiiiiiiy
Forced play has led to the position, in which Black faces some concrete problems. The
knight on b7 is not as bad as it looks and also helps White to maintain the initiative
see the very important game C.Hansen M.Mueller/Germany BL 2002 for details.
13...c7!? also deserves serious attention we analysed it on the previous move without
inclusion 12 ...c5 13. d5 but here it may be even more efficient since White does not
have the promising option 12...Qc7 13. Bg2 c5 14. 0-0!?

14 g2

35

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+-wqkvl-tr0
9zpl+-+p+-0
9-+-+psn-+0
9+pzpP+-vL-0
9-+p+-+-+0
9+-sN-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+QmK-+R0
xiiiiiiiiy
14...e7
The alternative is 14...h6!?

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+-wqk+-tr0
9zpl+-+p+-0
9-+-+psn-vl0
9+pzpP+-vL-0
9-+p+-+-+0
9+-sN-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+QmK-+R0
xiiiiiiiiy
is very interesting: 15 xf6!? (15 xh6!? deserves serious attention: 15...xh6 16 xb5 (16
0-0?! b4! is known to be fine for Black) 16...xd5 17 0-0 One of the critical positions
of this line. Black has a choice. 17...b6
a) Another options are: 17...e7!? 18 c1!? xg2 19 xh6 (19 d1? h8!)
19...xf1 20 xf1 with somewhat better chances for White
b) 17...b8!? seems reasonable, getting the rook into play. Perhaps White should
react with 18 a3!? (18 c3?! xg2 19 xg2 xb2 is just fine for Black) 18...e7 19
e1, maintaining a small advantage
18 d2!? (In the game Van Wely L'Ami/NEDch Leeuwarden 2005 White came up with
the wrong 18 c3? xg2 19 xg2 and here Black could have achieved a big advantage
by 19...b7+! 20 g1 e7 since 21 f3 could have been met with 21...xb2 22 e2 d8)
18...h5 19 xd5 exd5 (19...xd5? 20 e2!) 20 f4!? and so on) 15...xf6 16 0-0
0-0-0 17 xb5 exd5 (Still White has not demonstrated a clear way to get better
chances after 17...a6!? 18 c3 exd5 but for some reason this continuation is not very
popular) 18 xa7+ b8 19 b5

36

XIIIIIIIIY
9-mk-tr-+-tr0
9+l+-+p+-0
9-+-+-wq-vl0
9+Nzpp+-+-0
9-+p+-+-+0
9+-+-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+Q+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
This position was supposed to be better for White. Black's main problem is not so much the
weakness of the queenside, as his darksquared bishop, which might be rather
useless here. However, he has recently discovered a way to use it in the Kside
actions. 19...a6! A good idea. Black is still going to play a typical ...Bh6g5
followed by ...Qa6h6 but at the moment his queen prevents such threats as Qa4a7
or Qd1-e1-a5.
a) 19...g7?! was proved to be slow in the game Kasparov Ivanchuk/Linares 1994,
which continued 20 a4 h6 21 h4 f6 22 e1! xh4 23 a5! and White has
launched a strong attack
b) The more logical 19...g5 can be well met with 20 e1! (20 f4?! is weaker due to
20...h6! 21 fxg5?! (21 h3 is safer) 21...xh2+ 22 f2 d4 23 g1 h4!! with
strong initiative) 20...d7 21 b3 and White's attacking chances seem to be higher.
20 a4 g5 21 f3 (21 h4 xh4 22 gxh4 dg8 could have been a transposition after 23 f3 h6)
21...h6 22 h4 xh4! 23 gxh4 dg8 24 fe1 xh4 25 f1

XIIIIIIIIY
9-mk-+-+rtr0
9+l+-+p+-0
9-+-+-+-+0
9+Nzpp+-+-0
9P+p+-+-wq0
9+-+-+Q+-0
9-zP-+-zPL+0
9tR-+-tRK+-0
xiiiiiiiiy
This position arose in the game Williams Ivanisevic/Reykjavik 2006. It might seem that
White has defended but Black has found the way to maintain his initiative.
25...xg2!! 26 xg2 d4 27 g3+ (An alternative 27 f3 f4 28 g4 led to a draw after
28...h1+ 29 f2 h2+ 30 g1 h1+!=) 27...xg3 28 fxg3 h1+ 29 e2 h2+ 30 d1
f3+ 31 c1 d3 and Black's initiative was sufficient to hold balance.

37

15 0-0 xd5 16 xe7 xe7 17 xb5 b6 18 a3

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+-+-+-tr0
9zpl+-mkp+-0
9-wq-+p+-+0
9+-zpn+-+-0
9-+p+-+-+0
9sN-+-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+Q+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
A critical position for this line.

18...h4?!
This spectacular idea of Vladimir Kramnik does not solve the problems.
18...c3!? is a worthy alternative: 19 c4 c7 20 bxc3 (20 c1 cxb2 21 xb2 b6 is
completely okay for Black) 20...xc3 21 d2 xg2 22 xg2 e4 23 e3 f6 24
f3 with small advantage for White but Black's position is quite playable.

19 d2!
With the idea 20. f4

19...f4!
The logical 19...d4? leads to the trouble for Black: 20 g5+ f6 21 xb7 g8 22 e5
d7 23 e2 xb7 24 xc4 with a big advantage
19...g8? is also bad: 20 f4 xf4 21 xf4 xf4 22 xf4 xb2 23 d6+!!+

20 xc4 a6

38

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+-+-+-+0
9zpl+-mkp+-0
9q+-+p+-+0
9+-zp-+-+-0
9-+N+-sn-tr0
9+-+-+-zP-0
9PzP-wQ-zPLzP0
9tR-+-+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
20...c7? is bad due to 21 f3 xg2 22 g5+ f8 23 gxh4+ with decisive advantage.

21 fc1!
This is probably the best continuation.
21 xb7 may promise only a slight edge: 21...h3+ 22 g2 xb7+ 23 f3 d8 24 xd8+!?
(in case of 24 c3 Black can force a draw by 24...xc4 25 xc4 xb2+ 26 h1 f2+ 27
g1 h3+=) 24...xd8 25 gxh4 f4+ 26 h1 e7 27 ad1+ c7 28 e5
21 e3 is an important alternative. It looks like Black can achieve a good counterplay by
21...d8 22 c2 e2+ 23 h1 h5 White is a pawn up but Black's initiative is
fairly strong. 24 ae1 dh8! (24...d4?! is probably not the best continuation. The
game Murdzia Mueller/Hamburg 2002 continued by 25 c3 dh8 26 h4 e2!? (in
case of 26...f3?! White can secure the advantage by 27 d5+! xd5 28 xf3 c6 29
e3) 27 xe2! (A tempting 27 f5+? fails to a rather unexpected 27...xf5! 28
xh8 xg3+!! and Black is winning: 29 g1 (29 fxg3? xf1+ 30 xf1 xf1+) 29...xg2
30 xg2 xf1 31 xf1 f6 32 h5 e2-+) 27...xg2+ 28 xg2 xe2 29 d5+!
exd5 (29...xd5 30 xh8) 30 e1 xe1 31 xe1+ f6 Here White could have
probably secured reasonable winning chances by playing 32 a5! d4 33 xa7
then the queen goes back to blockade the dpawn, after which White can advance
his Kside pawns.) 25 f5+! (Other moves are just bad for White: 25 xe2?? xh2+
26 g1 h1+ 27 xh1 xh1# checkmate!, 25 g4? d4 26 c3 xg2+ 27 xg2 c6+ 28 f3
f5-+) 25...f8! 26 h4 (The point is that after 26 h4?! xg2+ 27 xg2 Black has
27...f4+! 28 gxf4 xf5) 26...d4 27 b1 f5 28 xb7 xb7+ 29 e4 Here Black
can choose between some good continuations, generally he has nothing to worry
about.

21...xg2
21...h3+? is just bad for Black: 22 xh3 xh3 23 g5++ and so on.

22 gxh4 g8 23 xf4 h3+ 24 g3


White can also fix a draw by 24 h1
39

24...xg3+ 25 hxg3 b7 26 e3
A logical play has led to the position, in which White's chances are preferable without any
doubts. The only Black's threat Qg2mate is safely prevented and so the White
rooks can start exploiting the opponent's weaknesses, trying to combine it with the
hpawn advance.

26...xb2

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+-+-+-+0
9zp-+-mkp+-0
9-+-+p+-+0
9+-zp-+-+-0
9-+-+-+-zP0
9+-+-sN-zPl0
9Pwq-+-zP-+0
9tR-tR-+-mK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
There is no reason to refuse from this capture.

27 ab1!?
White has many good options, such as a simple 27 a4!?

27...a3
27...xa2 28 a1 e2 29 xa7+ f6 30 c7 is bad for Black.

28 b7+ f6 29 c4!?

40

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+-+-+-+0
9zpR+-+p+-0
9-+-+pmk-+0
9+-zp-+-+-0
9-+R+-+-zP0
9wq-+-sN-zPl0
9P+-+-zP-+0
9+-+-+-mK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
Black's life is difficult.

41

Botvinnik Variation/5 Deviations after


11. g3 [D44]
Last updated: 01/09/07 by R.Scherbakov

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 f3 f6 4 c3 e6 5 g5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 h4 g5 9
xg5 hxg5 10 xg5 bd7 11 g3 g8!?

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+lwqkvlr+0
9zp-+n+p+-0
9-+p+psn-+0
9+p+-zP-vL-0
9-+pzP-+-+0
9+-sN-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zP-zP0
9tR-+QmKL+R0
xiiiiiiiiy
A fairly interesting possibility.
11...a5 doesn't have much popularity, but it is played sometimes and White must know
what to do. 12 exf6 a6 13 f3 b4 (13...c8?! is dubious as was proved by a very
creative play in the game Kramnik Ehlvest/Riga 1995: 14 e2 b4 or (14...c5 15 d5
b7 16 0-0 b4 17 e3) 15 e4 c5 16 d5! exd5 17 f5! dxe4 18 0-0-0! It is not often
that White castles queenside in the Botvinnik! 18...c7 Does not help too much
(18...c7 19 g4 e5 20 he1 d8 21 xe4 xd1+ 22 xd1 d6 23 f4 c8 24 g5 b7 25
e1 winning the piece back and securing a big advantage) 19 g4!+ with decisive

attack) 14 e4 0-0-0
a) 14...d8 has unsuccessfully been tried in the game Krush Shabalov/Las Vegas
2007: 15 e2 (15 f4!? was also worthy of consideration) 15...b6?! (A typical
15...c5! should have been played, trying to get counter chances as quickly as
possible. However, it couldn't solve the problems: 16 dxc5 b7 17 d6+ xd6 18
xb7 xc5 (or 18...xc5 19 c6+ f8 20 0-0) 19 0-0 and White keeps the better
chances) 16 c5 d5 17 xa6 xa6 18 e3 and White has achieved a big
advantage.

42

b) 14...d5 does not solve the problems: 15 e3 c5 16 d1 d8 (16...0-0-0?! is


dubious: 17 g2 c3 (17...b7 18 g5 xf3 19 xf3 xf3 20 xf3 xf6 21 c1) 18 bxc3
xa2 19 g5+) 17 g2 c3!? 18 xc5 xf3 19 xf3 xc5 20 dxc5 e5 21 e4!
and White secures the better chances.
15 e2 b7 16 0-0 d5 17 e3 The tournament practice promises better chances for
White.

12 h4!
12 xf6 xf6 13 exf6 xf6
and 12 h4 b7 13 g2 c7 are known to be unclear but quite playable for Black.

12...xg5 13 hxg5 d5 14 g6! fxg6 15 g4 e7 16 g2

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+l+kvl-+0
9zp-+nwq-+-0
9-+p+p+p+0
9+p+nzP-+-0
9-+pzP-+Q+0
9+-sN-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zPL+0
9tR-+-mK-+R0
xiiiiiiiiy
The ending after 16 xg6+ f7 17 xf7+ xf7 18 g2 looks unclear but recent practice
also shows it is better for White.

16...d8!

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+lmk-vl-+0
9zp-+nwq-+-0
9-+p+p+p+0
9+p+nzP-+-0
9-+pzP-+Q+0
9+-sN-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zPL+0
9tR-+-mK-+R0
xiiiiiiiiy

43

A very interesting approach Black does not even try to offer any resistance on the Kside
and just moves his king to the safe place.
The only way to protect the important g6 pawn is 16...f7 17 e4 e7 but it seems that
Black is suffering here: 18 h8 (18 xb5!? cxb5 19 xa8 b6 20 e4 d7 21 h8 c6 22 f3
is also supposed to be better for White) The game Eingorn Onischuk/Cuxhaven
1994 continued by 18...a6?! (18...b6 looks better. Then possible is 19 c2!? (19
e2!? also deserves attention) 19...f5 20 e4 d7 21 h7 g7 22 d6 xd6 23
xg6 xg6 24 xg6 e8 (24...f5 25 g4! xd4? 26 xg7+ d8 27 0-0-0 c5 28 h1+) 25
xe8+ xe8 26 xg7 keeping better chances.) 19 a4! b4 20 b5! and Black found
himself in trouble.
An interesting 16...a6!? was tried by Penteala Harikrishna in some games. White still
failed to find a clear way to prove his superiority: White always captured on g6: 17
xg6+ (a straightforward 17 xd5 cxd5 18 xd5 leads to a very sharp play:
18...exd5 19 xg6+ d8 20 xa6 (Both 20 0-0-0!?, and 20 h7!? b4+ 21 f1 are
worthy of consideration) 20...b4+ 21 f1 xb2 22 e1 xd4 23 e6 The game
Riazantsev Geller/Salekhard 2006 continued 23...b6! (23...b6? failed to 24 b7
g7 25 e7+! xe7 26 h5!+ and Black had no satisfactory defence against the
forthcoming Rh5xd5!) 24 xb6+ xb6 25 h8 e7 26 h7+ d6 27 e7 and here a
draw was agreed in the very complicated position, in which White's play seemed
more difficult) 17...f7 18 xf7+ (18 e4!? would be met with 18...g7!? with
complicated play) 18...xf7 19 f4 (19 e4 b4+ 20 e2 f8 is okay for Black)
19...d8!? (19...c8 looks more risky: 20 f5 exf5 and here it is maybe stronger to
continue by simple 21 xd5 (21 h7+ g7 22 xd5+ cxd5 23 e6+ g6 24 exd7 d8 is
good for Black) 21...cxd5 22 xd5+ g7 23 0-0-0 with advantage) 20 xd5 cxd5
21 g4 c8 White's chances still seem preferable.
16...b7 does not solve the problems: 17 xg6+ f7 18 xf7+ xf7 19 h7+ g7 20
xd5 cxd5 21 xb5 g8 22 h2 with advantage.

17 xg6
The immediate 17 xd5!? is very unexpected and rather interesting White parts with his
bishop but clarifies the situation in center. Yet, Black seems to be OK here:
17...cxd5 18 xg6

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+lmk-vl-+0
9zp-+nwq-+-0
9-+-+p+Q+0
9+p+pzP-+-0
9-+pzP-+-+0
9+-sN-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zP-+0
9tR-+-mK-+R0
xiiiiiiiiy

44

Now White's plan is simple the Kside invasion as well as the pawns advance. Black has
to find the way to activate his pieces which is not so easy as the central pawn chains
cut his position in two. 18...g7!?
a) 18...a6?! is well met by 19 a4! e8 (19...b4 20 xd5!) 20 xe8+ xe8 21 axb5
b7 22 f4 and White is much thankful to substitute the Black b5pawn by his own
b) 18...b8 is playable: 19 h7 e8! (19...b4? is bad as after 20 0-0-0 b6 21 g8!
Black is deprived of any counterplay: 21...a6 22 c2!? followed by Rd1-h1 and so
on.) 20 xe8+ xe8 21 f4 b4 gave Black reasonable counter chances in the game
Bacrot Fressinet/FRAch, Val d'Isere 2002 but perhaps White can still prove his
superiority.
19 a4!? White is hoping to get his knight to d6. (the rather unexpected retreat 19 g4!? is
connected with a concrete idea White is threatening to win the bishop by h1-h7
which was impossible due to ...d7f8. This has been tried in the game Sulypa
Korneev/EUch Istanbul 2003, which continued 19...f8 20 xb5 b8 21 d6 xb2 22
f3 b6 23 a3 xd6! 24 exd6 b7 25 0-0-0 d7 26 h4!? a6!? with good counter
chances as White does not have really useful files for his rooks, while 19 xb5 b4+
20 c3 xb2 21 g5+ c7 22 c1 f8 23 0-0 b8 is also good for Black) 19...f8 20
g4 b4 21 b5 The game Jakovenko Yevseev/RUSch SemiFinal Kazan 2005
continued 21...a6!? 22 d6 a5 23 h5 with extremely complicated play.

17...b4 18 c2
Here in case of 18 xd5 Black has 18...xb2!

18...a5

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+lmk-vl-+0
9zp-+n+-+-0
9-+p+p+-+0
9wqp+nzP-+-0
9-+pzP-+-+0
9+-sN-+-zP-0
9PzPQ+-zPL+0
9tR-+-mK-+R0
xiiiiiiiiy
A critical position for this line, which was tested in the game Kramnik Shirov/Monaco
2002. White's chances look preferable but Black has a lot of counter resources.

45

Botvinnik Variation/6 Various lines with


0-0-0 [D44]
Last updated: 03/08/08 by R.Scherbakov

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 f3 f6 4 c3 e6 5 g5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 h4 g5 9
xg5 hxg5 10 xg5 bd7 11 exf6 b7 12 g3 b6 13 g2 0-0-0 14 0-0 h6

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+ktr-+-tr0
9zpl+n+p+-0
9-wqp+pzP-vl0
9+p+-+-vL-0
9-+pzP-+-+0
9+-sN-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+Q+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
This is not the most popular continuation but it is played from time to time.
The similar idea is rare played with inclusion 14...c5 15 d5 h6 White can continue by 16
xh6 xh6 17 d2 dh8 18 h4 (18 dxe6 is an alternative: 18...fxe6 (18...xf6 19
exf7+) 19 h4 xf6 20 xb7+ xb7 21 fd1 with better chances for White
although Black is not without a counterplay) 18...xf6 19 dxe6 This position
occurred in the game Timoshenko Bergez/ Paris 2001. After a natural but weak
19...xg2?! White achieved a big advantage by a very strong intermediate move
(19...fxe6 should have been played, we mentioned this position in the line 18. de6) 20
exf7!, intending to capture the rook h6!

15 xh6
15 h4
15 e3
and 15 e4 are the other possibilities.

15...xh6
46

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+ktr-+-+0
9zpl+n+p+-0
9-wqp+pzP-tr0
9+p+-+-+-0
9-+pzP-+-+0
9+-sN-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+Q+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
16 b3!?
This approach might be a refutation of the whole line with 14 ...Bh6.
After 16 d2 g6 17 ad1 xf6 18 f4 c7 the practice promises slightly better
chances for White.
16 e4 is one of the main continuation, which also secures a small advantage for White:
16...c5 With a little delay Black commits this program pawn advance. (16...xf6?! 17
c5 is clearly better for White) 17 d2 (17 f3 is also interesting: 17...xf6
a) 17...xe4 does not solve the problems: 18 xe4 cxd4 (18...xf6 19 dxc5 xe4 20 cxb6
f5 21 bxa7 b7 22 fd1) 19 a4! c5 (19...xf6 20 f4 dh8 21 axb5) 20 f4 h5 21
axb5 and White has eventually proved his superiority in the game Beliavsky
Palac, Bled 1996
b) 17...xf6? is even worse: 18 dxc5 (18 f4!?) 18...xe4 19 xe4! with a big
advantage
18 d6+ c7

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+-tr-+-+0
9zplmkn+p+-0
9-wq-sNptr-+0
9+pzp-+-+-0
9-+pzP-+-+0
9+-+-+QzP-0
9PzP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+-+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
This position has been tested before and it was known to be more or less acceptable for
Black. In the game Estremera Panos Cifuentes Parada/Pamplona 2002 White came
up with an excellent 19 xf6!! (White has only tried 19 xb7+ but the position after
19...xd6 20 dxc5+ xc5 21 ad1+ d3 22 e4 e7 was proved to be quite good
47

for Black thanks to his superior knight on d3: 23 d2 d4 (23...d7 24 e2 d4 25


xd4 xd4 26 d1 f5 27 ed2 was unclear in the game Van Wely Piket/Wijk aan
Zee 1999) 24 e3 f5 25 h4 e5 26 f3 b4 27 e2 xe2 28 xe2 c3 29 bxc3 bxc3
30 e4 c5 and Black got better chances and has eventually converted his
advantage, Campos Moreno Korneev/Montcada 1999) 19...xf6 20 dxc5 a6 21
xb7 a4 (21...a5?! 22 f3 b4 23 a4! gave White a strong initiative.) 22 f3 d7
23 b3 with the initiative but the position is probably not at all clear) 17...h5
a) in case of 17...hh8 18 a4 xe4 19 xe4 cxd4 20 axb5 c5 White should
probably secure his strong bishop by 21 f3! b3 22 b4 xa1 23 xa1 with a
strong initiative.
b) Perhaps 17...g6!? deserves more attention although after 18 dxc5!? (after 18 a4
xf6 19 xf6 xd4!? (19...xg2 20 xg2 xd4 21 e2 xf6 22 axb5) 20 e2 xf6 21
axb5 f5 22 xb7+ xb7 23 a4 xb5 24 fa1 a6 25 xa6!? xa6 26 xa6 xa6
27 b3 b5 28 bxc4+ c6 (28...xc4? 29 h4+) 29 h4 d6 Black should be able to
hold on without serious problems) 18...xc5 19 e3 White keeps somewhat better
chances.
18 f4 xe4 19 dxc5 xc5 20 xe4 White has secured the better chances, Khalifman
Buhmann/EUch Plovdiv 2008.

16...cxb3
Both 16...xf6?! 17 bxc4 xd4 18 c1 h5 19 cxb5 c5 20 d1 with a clear advantage
and 16...c5 17 d5 cxb3 (17...a5?! 18 e4 b6? 19 c1 h5 20 dxe6 fxe6 21 f4+) 18 xb3 do
not seem encouraging for Black.

17 xb3

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+ktr-+-+0
9zpl+n+p+-0
9-wqp+pzP-tr0
9+p+-+-+-0
9-+-zP-+-+0
9+QsN-+-zP-0
9P+-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+-+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
White has tried some other continuations but this simple capture is probably the best.
17 e4 xf6 18 c5 b2 19 b1 e5 is acceptable for Black
while 17 axb3!? might be promising as well: 17...xf6 18 e2 e5 (or 18...dh8 19 h4 b8 20
d2 c7 21 fc1) 19 c1 dh8 20 h4 exd4 21 d1 c5 22 xd4 xg2 23 xg2 and
White has got the better chances thanks to the vulnerable Black's king.

48

17...a5
It is very important that 17...xf6 could be met with 18 a4! b4 19 a5! xd4 20 ac1!! (not
20 a6?! a8 21 a4 e4 and Black was very much alive in the game Cebalo Fercec,
Nova Gorica 2008) 20...h5!? (other options did not help: 20...xh2 21 xh2 g4+ 22
g1 h8 23 fd1 h2+ 24 f1 a6+ 25 e2 xe2+ 26 xe2 xg2 27 xd8+ xd8 28 d3+
c8 29 d4+, or 20...bxc3 21 fd1 c5 22 xd8+ xd8 23 xb7) 21 fd1 g4 22 xd8+

xd8 23 h3 g5 24 d1+ d5 25 xb4 e7 26 g4 g5 27 d4 with a strong


initiative.

18 e4
A simple 18 ac1!? looks strong enough.

18...xf6 19 c5

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+ktr-+-+0
9+l+-+p+-0
9-wqp+psn-tr0
9zppsN-+-+-0
9-+-zP-+-+0
9+Q+-+-zP-0
9P+-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+-+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
White's superiority is beyond doubt, Leitao Coelho/Sao Paulo 2008.

49

Botvinnik Variation/7 16.Na4 NOT


16...Qb5 [D44]
Last updated: 05/06/11 by R.Scherbakov

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.f3 f6 4.c3 e6 5.g5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.h4 g5


9.xg5 hxg5 10.xg5 bd7

XIIIIIIIIY
9r+lwqkvl-tr0
9zp-+n+p+-0
9-+p+psn-+0
9+p+-zP-vL-0
9-+pzP-+-+0
9+-sN-+-+-0
9PzP-+-zPPzP0
9tR-+QmKL+R0
xiiiiiiiiy
11.exf6
The same position may also be reached by 11.g3 b7 12.g2 b6 13.exf6 0-0-0 (13...c5
gives White an interesting extra possibility 14.dxc5!? xc5 15.0-0 A possible play is
15...xg2 16.xg2 c6+ 17.f3 0-0-0 18.e2 d4 19.e4 c5 20.xc5 xc5 21.h4 with a
certain advantage.) 14.0-0 c5 15.d5 b4 16.a4 and so on.

11...b7 12.g3 c5 13.d5 b6 14.g2 0-0-0 15.0-0

50

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+ktr-vl-tr0
9zpl+n+p+-0
9-wq-+pzP-+0
9+pzpP+-vL-0
9-+p+-+-+0
9+-sN-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+Q+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
15...b4
The main continuation.
15...h6 is rarely played in this situation. White would continue by 16.xh6 xh6 17.d2
dh8 18.h4 (18.dxe6 is an alternative: 18...fxe6 (18...xf6 19.exf7+) 19.h4 xf6
20.xb7+ xb7 21.fd1 with better chances for White although Black is not
without a counterplay) 18...xf6 19.dxe6 This position occurred in the game
Timoshenko Bergez/ Paris 2001. After a natural but weak 19...xg2?! White
achieved a big advantage by a very strong intermediate move (19...fxe6 should have
been played, we mentioned this position in the line 18. de6) 20.exf7!, intending to
capture the rook h6!

16.a4

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+ktr-vl-tr0
9zpl+n+p+-0
9-wq-+pzP-+0
9+-zpP+-vL-0
9Nzpp+-+-+0
9+-+-+-zP-0
9PzP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+Q+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
16...a6!?

51

Since Black began experiencing problems in the main line 16 ...Qb5, much more attention
has been paid to this retreat, which is rather popular nowadays. The following play is
more or less forced.
16...d6 is supposed to be weak due to 17.f4! a6 (17...e5 18.e3 h6 19.c1 xe3 20.xe3
is also better for White) 18.dxe6! fxe6 19.xb7+ xb7 20.g4 h6 21.d6! c6
22.fd1 with a big advantage since 22...xa4 23.e7 looks unsatisfactory for
Black.

17.a3 xd5! 18.xd5 e5

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+ktr-vl-tr0
9zp-+-+p+-0
9q+-+pzP-+0
9+-zpLsn-vL-0
9Nzpp+-+-+0
9zP-+-+-zP-0
9-zP-+-zP-zP0
9tR-+Q+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
19.axb4
19.xc5!? is worth considering: 19...xc5 20.e2!? deserves attention: (20.axb4 is fine for
Black: 20...xf2+ 21.xf2 xd5 22.f1 c6! 23.f4 (not 23.e2? f3+! 24.xf3
d1+! 25.f1 xf1+ 26.xf1 d8) 23...g4 24.c2 b6+ 25.h1 c6 26.g1 b6+
27.h1 c6= with repetition of moves) 20...xd5!? (20...exd5 is also far from clear:
21.xe5 bxa3!? (Black faces problems after 21...b3?! 22.ae1 c6 23.h4) 22.b4!? (after
22.bxa3 he8 23.c3 (23.f5+ e6) 23...e4 Black keeps good counter chances)
22...cxb3!? (22...xb4 23.fb1, 22...b6 23.fe1) 23.fc1 (23.ac1 b2 24.xc5+ b7
25.c7+ a8 26.e1 a5 27.g2 a2 28.xb2 xc7 29.e7 d7 30.xa2 c6 looks okay for
Black but perhaps White would still maintain some edge by 31.g1 d4 32.h4) 23...b2
24.xc5+ b7 25.xa3!? b1+ 26.c1 ab6 (26...xc1+ 27.xc1) 27.e7+ a8
28.xa7+ xa7 29.xb1 he8 30.xa7+ xa7 The position seems acceptable for
Black but his king is cut and White still keeps the better chances: 31.h4 d4 32.g2
and so on though a draw seems to be the most likely result) 21.axb4 c6 22.bxc5
xc5 23.f3 d3 24.e3 b5 This position arose in the game Ragger
Amanov/KhantyMansiysk (ol) 2010, which continued 25.ac1 This thematic
exchange sacrifice helps White to remove opponent's powerful knight. However,
Black has sufficient defensive resources. (25.a2!? deserved attention, leaving the
rook on the afile: 25...a6 26.g2 and perhaps White may still prove somewhat better
chances) 25...xc1 26.xc1 b4 27.xa7 d8 28.f2 b7 and here fortifying the
pawn structure by 29.e1!? deserved attention, after which White would have
52

thought about the slow advance of his Kside pawns and in some cases he would
offer the exchange of queens as well. For example, 29...a4 (29...b6+ 30.h1 xb2
31.xc4 seemed unsafe for Black but perhaps he was not so bad after 31...d6)
30.g2 d3 31.c3 d5 32.h4 a8 33.f1!? with idea g3g4 and if 33...a2 then
34.e1 and so on. However, it was still not so easy for White to make real progress.

19...xd5 20.e2 cxb4 21.c3

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+k+-vl-tr0
9zp-+-+p+-0
9q+-+pzP-+0
9+-+rsn-vL-0
9-zpp+-+-+0
9+-sN-+-zP-0
9-zP-+QzP-zP0
9tR-+-+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
21...a5
This is natural but Black has a few other options.
Black can sacrifice the exchange by 21...d6 22.xd5 xd5 23.f3 d3 24.e3 Curiously
enough, the position is very similar to the main line. Here White just has the rook on
a1 instead of the knight on e4, but can it be more attractive for Black?! (24.h4!?
might be more promising for White: 24...b3 (24...c5+ 25.g2 d4 26.fd1!) 25.g2
b7 is somewhat better for White) 24...c5 25.xc5 xc5+ 26.h1 (26.g2 is not
better: 26...g5 (26...d8!? is interesting: 27.fd1 d5!? and if 28.b3? then
28...cxb3! 29.d2 (29.xd3? xd3 30.xd3 c2+!-+) 29...b2! 30.ad1 b3! with decisive
advantage) 27.f4 d5+ 28.f3 b7 29.f5 xf3+ 30.xf3 e5 and Black's strong Q
side pawns should give him sufficient counterplay.) 26...a5 (26...d8 is also not bad)
27.b3! The thematic undermining push which fights against Black's powerful knight
on d3. (In case of 27.a4 h5 28.fa1 e5 29.f1 d4 30.xa5 xa5 31.xa5 xb2 Black
gets sufficient counterplay) 27...d8 28.bxc4 This position arose in the game
Karavade E.Sveshnikov/Reykjavik 2011. Here 28...b3!? looked more to the point
but White may still hope for some advantage.
21...c6 with the same idea gives White an extra option 22.f4!? bxc3 (in case of 22...d3
23.xd5 xd5 24.e3 White's king is quite safe and he can focus his attention on the
opposite wing) 23.xe5 White should be satisfied to swap such a strong knight, his
chances are preferable, Rahman Sriram/Calcutta 2001.

22.xa5 xa5 23.e4 d3 24.e3!?

53

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+k+-vl-tr0
9zp-+-+p+-0
9-+-+pzP-+0
9wq-+-+-+-0
9-zpp+N+-+0
9+-+nvL-zP-0
9-zP-+QzP-zP0
9+-+-+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
This idea of Alexander Beliavsky is recently the main continuation.
24.b3 proved to be harmless for Black due to 24...e5 25.d1 b2! (25...c5? is bad:
26.xc4! xe4 27.b5 c7 28.e3 h5 29.e8 d5 30.a1 with a very strong attack.)
26.xb2 (26.e3 is in Black's favour due to 26...xb3 27.a1 e5! with the idea of
...e5f3+!) 26...xb2 and so on

24...h5!?
24...h5 is dubious: 25.xa7!? (25.b3!? comes into consideration amongst other possibilities,
25.d2!?) 25...d5 26.e3 In the game Beliavsky Atalik/JUGchT playoff
Vrnjacka Banja 1999 Black should have played 26...d7!?, protecting the pawn on
f7 in advance to make the manoeuvre g4g8 less effective. The rook can also be
useful in supporting the queenside pawns from the 7th rank, as well as defending the
king. Also the Black queen now has access to more good squares, especially d5.
Nevertheless White's chances are preferable.
24...e5?! seems to be not so good here, as after 25.d2 xb2 26.f3 White's initiative
looks strong.
24...b7?! does not solve the problems: 25.g5! d5 26.xf7 (26.b3!?) 26...g8 27.f4
(27.b3!?) 27...a5 28.e5 xe5 29.fxe5 xe5 30.f7 h8 31.f4 with a clear
advantage.
the attempt to consolidate the position by 24...d5?! probably does not work: 25.g5
(25.xa7 xb2 is too unclear.) 25...e5 26.a1 (an undermining 26.b3!? is always
interesting in such positions.) 26...a5 27.g4+ This position occurred in the game
Sakaev Abreu/World Teams, Yerevan 2001. Black's life already looks difficult:
27...b8 (in the game Black has lost quickly after 27...b7? 28.xf7!) 28.xf7!
xf7 (28...h7 29.g5 h8 is maybe more tenacious but obviously insufficient)
29.xa5 and White's attack could hardly be parried.

25.f3
A rather important position for this line is reached.

25...e5!?
54

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+k+-vl-tr0
9zp-+-+p+-0
9-+-+pzP-+0
9+-+-wq-+-0
9-zpp+N+-+0
9+-+nvLPzP-0
9-zP-+Q+-zP0
9+-+-+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
This idea is rather interesting Black finds a target in White's camp.
In the game Rahman Gaston/Paris 2002 Black tried 25...a5!? 26.b3! A typical
undermining move White is trying to loosen the knight on d3 as well as to open
play against the Black king. 26...a4! A tricky idea. Now it seems that White is forced
to clarify the situation on the Qside but... 27.h4!
a) both 27.bxa4 b3 28.h4 b4
b) and 27.bxc4 c5 28.g5 d6 (28...g6?! 29.d1, 28...b3?! 29.d2) 29.d2 b3!
gave Black reasonable counter chances.
27...axb3 (27...f5!? deserved attention, keeping the queen in action although White's
chances still look preferable the Black king is not quite safe, as usual in the
Botvinnik Variation) 28.g5 g6 29.c1! b2 30.xc4+ c5+ and here White should
have played 31.xc5+! xc5 32.c2, getting a strong initiative although his win
was still not so clear after 32...b1+ 33.xb1 xe4 34.fxe4 g8!? 35.xb4 d8
Another possible option is 25...b7!?, improving the king first of all. However, the position
after 26.b3 (or 26.a1 a5 27.b3) 26...c5! 27.g5 d6 is preferable for White as the
Black king is still vulnerable

26.c2 b5
26...xb2!? was worthy of consideration: 27.b1 b3! 28.xb2 (28.c1 a3!) 28...xb2
29.xb2 a5 with good counter chances for Black thanks to his strong Qside pawns.
Yet only White would play for a win here

27.b3!?
27.d2 can be met by 27...xb2! 28.xb2 c3 29.a2 and here, in the game Hebden
D.Howell/GBch Torquay 2009, Black had to play 29...c5! 30.xc5 (White could
have secured his extra piece by 30.c4? but it was bad for him! 30...h5! 31.g2 xc4
32.xc4 xe3 33.xe3 b3 and Black's Qside pawns decide the game) 30...xc5+
31.g2 cxd2 32.xd2 d8 33.f4 with a very complicated position. A possible
continuation would be 33...b7 34.c1 d6 35.c4 b6 36.h4 a5 37.h5 Here any
result seems to be possible but everything might still be ended with a repetition of
moves
55

27...c3
This position arose in the game Krush Becerra Rivero/USAch Saint Louis 2009. Here

28.d1!?
was maybe more promising, pushing the knight from its strong position. Then after

28...e5 29.g2 a5 30.f4


White's initiative would be strong.

56

Botvinnik Variation/8 16.Na4 Qb5 17.a3


NOT 17...ed5 [D44]
Last updated: 05/06/11 by R.Scherbakov

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.f3 f6 4.c3 e6 5.g5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.h4 g5


9.xg5 hxg5 10.xg5 bd7 11.exf6 b7 12.g3 c5 13.d5 b6 14.g2 0-0-0
15.0-0 b4 16.a4 b5 17.a3

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+ktr-vl-tr0
9zpl+n+p+-0
9-+-+pzP-+0
9+qzpP+-vL-0
9Nzpp+-+-+0
9zP-+-+-zP-0
9-zP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+Q+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
17...b8
This knight retreat was the main continuation for years but at the moment White has
managed to find the way to put Black under pressure. However, the situation might
change again!
17...e5 seems less precise due to 18.e2!? (18.axb4 cxb4 19.d4 would be a transposition to
the line 17...b8 18. ab4 cb4 19. d4 c6 etc.) 18...d3 19.dxe6! xg2 20.xg2
c6+ 21.f3!? and White is better when compared to similar positions because of the
fact that Black's fpawn has moved to e6 where it's weak, and at the same time
White's fpawn already became passed.

18.axb4 cxb4

57

XIIIIIIIIY
9-snktr-vl-tr0
9zpl+-+p+-0
9-+-+pzP-+0
9+q+P+-vL-0
9Nzpp+-+-+0
9+-+-+-zP-0
9-zP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+Q+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
19.d4
This continuation was supposed to be a real blow for Black but things have recently
changed.
White also tried other options: 19.e3 xd5 20.xd5 xd5 21.e2 c6 22.fc1 e5 (in
case of 22...a5?! 23.b3! c3 24.xc3! bxc3 25.xc3+ d7 26.c2 d6 27.c1 b7 28.b4!
xb4 29.b1 g4 30.xa7! White obtains a very strong attack) 23.b3 (23.xa7 is much
weaker due to 23...b7! 24.e3 d3! The Black pieces have become very powerful
while the white pieces are passive now, especially the knight on a4 which has
nothing to do) 23...c3 24.xc3 This is a standard sacrifice for this kind of position
otherwise the knight on a4 is just useless. 24...bxc3 25.xc3+ b8 26.c2 After
(26.xa7+?! b7 27.e4 b4 28.c2 d6 Black is better since there is no standard b3
b4! and if 29.a4? then 29...f3+!! 30.xf3 e1+ 31.g2 xh2+ 32.xh2 h5+ with
checkmate.) 26...d6 27.xa7+ b7 Black is still in danger but he can probably
hold the balance, as was proved in the game Kasparov Tal/Moscow 1983.
If Black is able to survive after White's queen sacrifice then 19.g4!? might be revived as it
is also known to be dangerous for Black.

19...c6

58

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+ktr-vl-tr0
9zpl+-+p+-0
9-+n+pzP-+0
9+q+P+-vL-0
9NzppwQ-+-+0
9+-+-+-zP-0
9-zP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+-+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
20.dxc6!
A rather unexpected 20.b6+ does not seem much promising: 20...axb6 21.dxc6 xc6
22.xc6 xc6 23.g4 b7 with acceptable play for Black in the game Hebden
Arun Prasad/SCOch Edinburgh 2009. (while 23...c5 may not be the best: 24.a7
d7 25.xd7 xd7 26.h4 Now White gets some benefit as Black has to spend time
moving his king to safety. However, the position still remains rather unclear, Carlsen
Smeets/Wijk aan Zee A 2010)

20...xd4 21.cxb7+

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+k+-vl-tr0
9zpP+-+p+-0
9-+-+pzP-+0
9+q+-+-vL-0
9Nzpptr-+-+0
9+-+-+-zP-0
9-zP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+-+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
21...b8!
21...c7?! is less precise: 22.e3 e5 23.c3! (23.b3? c3) 23...bxc3 24.bxc3 c5 25.cxd4
xd4 26.fb1 c5 27.a6 and Black found himself in trouble in the game Kamsky
Kramnik/New York (m/1) 1994

22.e3 e5
59

Other options do not solve the problems: 22...c5 23.xc5 xc5 24.a6!
22...h5 23.h4
22...d5 23.xa7+! xb7 24.b6

23.b3!
The thematic 23.c3?! is dubious: 23...bxc3 24.bxc3 c5 25.fb1 d1+! 26.xd1 xe3
27.fxe3 b6!? and White has to fight for a draw, Derbenev Slugin/Lipetsk 2009.

23...c3!

XIIIIIIIIY
9-mk-+-vl-tr0
9zpP+-+p+-0
9-+-+-zP-+0
9+q+-zp-+-0
9Nzp-tr-+-+0
9+Pzp-vL-zP-0
9-+-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+-+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
24.fd1

XIIIIIIIIY
9-mk-+-vl-tr0
9zpP+-+p+-0
9-+-+-zP-+0
9+q+-zp-+-0
9Nzp-tr-+-+0
9+Pzp-vL-zP-0
9-+-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+R+-mK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
24.ad1 can be well met by 24...d6!? (while 24...h6 is not an exact transposition to 24.
fd1 after 25.xd4 exd4 (25...c2? 26.c5!! cxd1 27.xd1+) 26.xd4 c2 (26...d2?
27.a1 c4, c5, 26...e5? 27.c4+) 27.c4 xc4! (27...c1 28.fxc1 xc1 29.xc1+
) 28.bxc4 and here Black is forced to play 28...c1 (28...d8?? is simply met by
29.c5+ as 29...d1?? comes without check!) 29.xc1 xc1 In this ending White
might achieve some benefit compared to the one which arises after 24. fd1: 30.c5
60

a5 31.d5 and so on but perhaps it is still drawish) 25.fe1!? This position still
requires thorough analysis. White maintains good compensation for the queen and I
feel that his play over the board is easier. Black has no clear strategical plan and
should just keep things under control, which might be uncomfortable...

24...h6!
The only way.
24...d6? 25.xd4 exd4 26.xd4 leads to problems for Black:
24...xd1+? is also not good: 25.xd1 e8 26.e4! and White is dominating

25.xd4
25.xd4 exd4 26.xd4 c2 is okay for Black

25...exd4 26.xd4 c2 27.c4

XIIIIIIIIY
9-mk-+-+-tr0
9zpP+-+p+-0
9-+-+-zP-vl0
9+q+-+-+-0
9NzpR+-+-+0
9+P+-+-zP-0
9-+p+-zPLzP0
9tR-+-+-mK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
This position and so the whole line was supposed to be problematic for Black. However,
Black has got a strong resource

27...xc4!
27...e5? is insufficient: 28.f1 c1 29.fxc1 xc1 30.xc1 and White's two minor
pieces and powerful b7pawn overwhelms Black's queen: 30...xf6 31.h3!!+ (after
a natural 31.h4 e6 White does not have 32.c6?! due to 32...e1+ 33.h2 xf2 34.c5
xh4+!= with perpetual check!) 31...e7 32.c6!! xb7 (here 32...e1+ failed to
33.h2 xf2 34.c5+) 33.c5 xc6 34.xc6 xh3 (surely not 34...c8?? 35.a6#
mate!) 35.a6+ c8 36.xb4+ with a decisive advantage
27...c1+? also loses: 28.axc1 xc1 29.xc1 d3 30.h3!! followed by c1-c6! and a4
c5

28.bxc4 d8!
The position after 28...c1+?! 29.xc1 xc1 has been mentioned in the line 24.ad1
61

29.f3
Or 29.d5 b3 30.f1 c1+ 31.xc1 xc1 32.xf7 b2 33.g6 xb7 34.h4 c6

29...c1+
A tricky idea 29...d6? can be met by the astonishing 30.c5 (30.c5!?) 30...a6 31.g2!
c1 (31...xa4?? 32.e1!+) 32.b6!! xb6 33.xc1 xc1 34.cxb6 a5 35.d5 but
here Black still keeps drawing chances this ending requires more analysis.

30.xc1 xc1

XIIIIIIIIY
9-mk-tr-+-+0
9zpP+-+p+-0
9-+-+-zP-+0
9+-+-+-+-0
9NzpP+-+-+0
9+-+-+LzP-0
9-+-+-zP-zP0
9+-vl-+-mK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
In this ending White still keeps some edge but it still requires special analysis. Black's
resources seem sufficient to hold on.

62

Botvinnik Variation/9 16. Na4 Qb5 17.


a3 ed5 [D44]
Last updated: 05/06/11 by R.Scherbakov

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.f3 f6 4.c3 e6 5.g5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.h4 g5


9.xg5 hxg5 10.xg5 bd7 11.exf6 b7 12.g3 c5 13.d5 b6 14.g2 0-0-0
15.0-0 b4 16.a4 b5 17.a3 exd5 18.axb4

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+ktr-vl-tr0
9zpl+n+p+-0
9-+-+-zP-+0
9+qzpp+-vL-0
9NzPp+-+-+0
9+-+-+-zP-0
9-zP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+Q+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
18...cxb4

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+ktr-vl-tr0
9zpl+n+p+-0
9-+-+-zP-+0
9+q+p+-vL-0
9Nzpp+-+-+0
9+-+-+-zP-0
9-zP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+Q+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
63

18...d4 is a very risky alternative. White seems to be very close to win but still failed to
come to the end: 19.xb7+ xb7

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+-tr-vl-tr0
9zpk+n+p+-0
9-+-+-zP-+0
9+qzp-+-vL-0
9NzPpzp-+-+0
9+-+-+-zP-0
9-zP-+-zP-zP0
9tR-+Q+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
20.c3!?
a) 20.e1 seems to be less promising: 20...cxb4 21.xd4 (21.f3+? is unsuccessful:
21...c6 22.f5 d6 23.e4 (Rh2 was threatened) 23...de8! 24.xd4 e5 25.f4 g6!-+
and heavy material losses are inevitable.) 21...xg5 22.xc4 and here in the game
Filippov Wang Lei/Shanghai 2000 Black could have played 22...c8!?, intending
to meet 23.xf7 with 23...c7 with unclear play.
b) 20.f4!? is an interesting attempt to put problems for Black: 20...c6 21.c1
Apart from this move White has some other possibilities.
b1) 21.e1!? deserves attention: 21...a6! (21...d3? can be strongly met by 22.b5!
xb5 23.b3! h6 (23...cxb3? 24.c3 c6 25.xb3+ b6 26.xf7+ d7 27.e8+) 24.bxc4
c6 25.xh6 xh6 26.xd3+ with decisive advantage) 22.h4 d3 23.b3 cxb4
24.bxc4 xf6 25.b3 d4 with complicated play, in which White can still try to
achieve something
b2) 21.b3!? looks interesting as well. Then possible is 21...h6 (21...c3!? is worthy of
consideration) 22.b5! xb5 23.f3+ c6 24.xc5+! xc5 25.xa7+! b6 26.c7+
xc7 27.xc7 xc7 28.bxc4 d3 29.h5 with good chances for White
The position after 21. Rc1 arose in the game Pelletier M.Mueller/Zurich 2005. Here
Black should have played 21...b6! with very unclear play (while the typical
21...h6? turned out to be a decisive mistake: 22.xc5+ xc5 23.xc4! xf4 24.xc5 e4
25.e1+ and so on.)
20...dxc3 21.d5+ b6 (21...c8?! gives White a big advantage after 22.xa7) 22.f4

64

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+-tr-vl-tr0
9zp-+n+p+-0
9-mk-+-zP-+0
9+qzpQ+-+-0
9-zPp+-vL-+0
9+-zp-+-zP-0
9-zP-+-zP-zP0
9tR-+-+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
The position looks very dangerous for Black, since white's threat is a1-a5 with f4c7
next but a fantastic idea of Sergey Ivanov allows Black to stay in the game. (22.a5
xb4 23.bxc3 xa5 24.b1+ b5 25.xb5+ xb5 26.xf7 Black's chances are not worse.)
22...h5! Other moves did not help.
a) 22...cxb4? 23.c7++
b) 22...cxb2? 23.a5 xb4 24.c7+! xc7 25.xa7++
c) 22...a6 23.a5 xb4 24.bxc3 (24.xa6+!?) 24...xa5 25.b1+ b5 26.xb5+ axb5
(26...xb5 27.c7) 27.xf7 with a big advantage. Thanks to the bishop on f4 White
keeps all the Black pieces undeveloped.
d) 22...c8 23.a5 c6 24.xc4 b7 25.fa1 a8 26.bxc3 with an overwhelming
advantage.
23.xh5 cxb2 24.ad1 To pin the knight is very logical. Now it seems like Black is in
serious trouble again but another fantastic idea of Sergey Ivanov comes as a total
shock. 24...cxb4! and (24...c3 25.bxc5+ xc5 26.xf7+, 24...xb4 25.xf7 are
unsatisfactory for Black) 25.c7+ Other continuations seem to be acceptable for
Black:
a) 25.xf7 c3
b) 25.d5 c5 26.xf7 (26.e3 c3 27.xc5+ xc5 28.xd8 xf1+ 29.xf1 b1+) 26...c3
27.b1 (27.e6+ c6 28.f5 c2) 27...e2-+
c) 25.e3+!? c6! 26.f3+ (26.xf7 c3) 26...c7 27.f4+ b6 28.e3+ c5
25...c6 26.xb5+ xb5 27.xd8 c3! Black had no time to move the knight so he has to
sacrifice it as well! (27...c5 28.e7 h6 29.d5 c1 30.xc5+ a6 31.xc4 b1
32.fxc1+, 27...b6 28.g4 h6 29.f4 with g5, Be7+) 28.xd7

65

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+-vL-vl-+0
9zp-+R+p+-0
9-+-+-zP-+0
9+k+-+-+-0
9-zp-+-+-+0
9+-zp-+-zP-0
9-zp-+-zP-zP0
9+-+-+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
An absolutely crazy endgame is arisen. Black has a couple of pawns for two rooks but
things are not so clear as the pawns are very dangerous. 28...c2 (In the origin of this
fantastic line the game Aseev S.Ivanov/St.Petersburg (ch) 1997 Black preferred
28...a5 ) 29.dd1 cxd1 (29...h6 was proved to be insufficient in the game Nimzo
7.32 Rebel Century/Computer Chess Match Tournament, Cadaqu 2000: 30.f4 cxd1
31.xd1 a4 32.c7! b3 33.e1 c2 34.d6! a5 35.g4 a4 36.e2+! b3 37.xb2+ xb2
38.g5+ with decisive advantage.) 30.xd1 c4 31.f1 (31.g4?! is harmless for
Black: 31...h6! 32.b1 c3 (32...b3 seems more straightforward) 33.a5 (33.e7
a5) 33...f8! and White should fight for a draw) 31...b3 32.e2 a2! 33.e7 h6
34.f4 (34.xb4 c1 35.d2 b1 36.xc1 e4+ 37.e3 a5= is drawish) 34...b3! The only
move. (34...a5 is losing to the simple 35.f3 b1 36.xb1 xb1 37.g4 b3 38.g5+) 35.c5!
The only move! (after 35.d2 a1 36.c5 b1 37.d4+ b2-+ Black is probably
winning.) 35...b1 36.xb1 xb1 37.xa7 Just in time! Now in the game

Wojtaszek Jedynak/POLch U20, Trzebinia 2002 Black could have achieved a


draw easier by playing 37...a2! 38.d4 f8! 39.h4 c5! 40.c3 b4! 41.e5
d6!= with the repetition of moves.

19.f4!?

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+ktr-vl-tr0
9zpl+n+p+-0
9-+-+-zP-+0
9+q+p+-+-0
9Nzpp+-vL-+0
9+-+-+-zP-0
9-zP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+Q+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
This retreat might be a heavy blow to the whole Black's approach.
66

19.d4?! does not seem to work: 19...c5 20.xc5 xc5 21.f4 d4! Black has realized
his idea without much effort. 22.f5+ b8 23.xb7 xb7 Black's chances look
preferable now. His pawns are very strong and his king is quite safe, Shredder 4
Nimzo 7.32/Cadaqu 2000.
while 19.e1 can be well met by 19...d4 20.xd4 xg2 21.xg2 xg5 22.xc4+ b8 and
Black is holding on. For example, 23.ac1 White also placed either rook on d1 but
without much success.
a) in case of 23.ed1?! White may find himself in trouble after 23...f5!
a1) other moves are weaker: 23...c8 24.xf7! e5 (24...xf6 25.b6! h7
26.d7+!+) 25.d5 xf6 26.b5+ c7 27.ac1+! c6 28.c2! with decisive
attack
a2) or 23...e5? 24.b6! f5 25.h4! c5 26.xd7+ xd7 27.xd7 xf2+ 28.h3
f5+ 29.g4+
24.d5 xh2+! (24...h3+? 25.f3) 25.xh2 xf2+ 26.h3 d6! and White's king
suddenly gets attacked
b) 23.ad1 does not promise much as well: 23...a5 (23...f5!? is also playable)
24.d5 c7 (24...xa4?? 25.b3+) 25.d3 and here Black would defend by 25...c6!?
(or 25...h6!? )
23...d6 24.c6 d2! The best continuation, which solves all the problems. The game
Topalov Shirov/Sofia 2009 continued 25.g1 xh2! 26.e2! d3! 27.e3 d2
and after some more repetition a draw was agreed.
19.e3 is a common option: 19...c5 20.g4+ d7

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+k+-vl-tr0
9zpl+r+p+-0
9-+-+-zP-+0
9+qsnp+-+-0
9Nzpp+-+Q+0
9+-+-vL-zP-0
9-zP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+-+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
(In case of 20...b8 White gains a strong initiative by 21.d4 xa4 22.xa7+ c7 23.xa4 a8
24.xa8 xa8 25.xa8 c3 26.bxc3 bxc3 27.f4+ d7 28.d1 and Black is in trouble)

21.xc5!?
a) Vassily Ivanchuk's fantastic queen sacrifice 21.g7!? which has shaken the chess
World in 1996 is already supposed to be harmless for Black: 21...xg7 22.fxg7 g8
23.xc5 xg7! (after the dubious 23...d4?! 24.xb7+ xb7 25.xb7 b6 White
launched a decisive attack by 26.xd4!! xd4 27.fd1 Ivanchuk Shirov/Wijk aan
Zee 1996.) 24.h3 (Ivanchuk's compatriot the FIDE World Champion Ruslan
Ponomariov has tried to find the truth in 24.xd7!? xd7 25.xa7 but Alexei
Shirov has proved that Black's position is still full of counter chances: 25...g6!
With idea to exchange the rooks by ...Rg6a6. 26.fa1 (26.d1!? comes to mind as
67

possible improvement but Black's chances should not be worse) 26...e6! Perhaps
White has underestimated this resource Black is going to take on e3, then
attacking the weak e3 and b2pawns with the queen. It seems that Black is already
better in all lines, Ponomariov Shirov/Wijk aan Zee 2003.) 24...f5 25.xf5
gf7!? (25...d4!? 26.xd4 gf7 seems also possible) 26.h3 h7 27.e6 he7

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+k+-+-+0
9zpl+rtr-+-0
9-+-+L+-+0
9+qsNp+-+-0
9-zpp+-+-+0
9+-+-vL-zP-0
9-zP-+-zP-zP0
9tR-+-+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
This position has been tested in the game Ernst Hermansson/Stockholm 2002. White
cannot do everything he wants because of the weakened long diagonal. It seems that
he should have forced a draw by moving his lightsquared bishop back and forth.
b) 21.xc5 was also tried but without much success: 21...xc5 22.g7 (an early
inclusion 22.xc5 xc5 may lead to the same) 22...hd8 (22...h5?! is weaker as after
23.f3 e5 24.g4 it becomes clear that the rook does nothing on e5: 24...c6
25.xf7+ with decisive advantage for White.) 23.xc5 xc5 24.h3 c7 25.xd7
xd7 26.g5 (26.fe1 d4! 27.e7 d5 is fine for Black) 26...b6! Resuming the
program idea ...d5d4. Besides, the king quite often gives a very good support for
the Black's Qside pawn avalanche. The game Haba Kopal/CZEch Luhacovice
2003 logically continued 27.fe1 d4! 28.xc5+ xc5 29.e7 c6 30.xd7 xd7
31.xa7 e6 and White has not managed to stop Black's pawns.
21...xc5 22.g7! (22.xc5 xc5 23.g7 may lead to the just considered game Haba
Kopal/CZEch Luhacovice 2003 after 23...hd8 and so on.) 22...hd8 23.h3 d4
(23...xe3 does not help much: 24.fxe3 d4 25.xf7 dxe3 (25...c6 26.xd7+ xd7
27.e8+ c7 28.e4+) 26.xd7+ xd7 27.e8+ c7 28.ad1!+ and White is
winning) 24.f4 d5!? Probably the best continuation Black should protect his
important f7pawn. Still White's chances look preferable but the position is very
complicated and too far from clear. It's too early for precise conclusions, more
analysis and practical tests are required.

19...h6

68

XIIIIIIIIY
9-+ktr-+-tr0
9zpl+n+p+-0
9-+-+-zP-vl0
9+q+p+-+-0
9Nzpp+-vL-+0
9+-+-+-zP-0
9-zP-+-zPLzP0
9tR-+Q+RmK-0
xiiiiiiiiy
The best defence.
19...c5? fails to solve the problems: 20.xc5 xc5 21.e1 (21.h4 c6 22.e1 with a clear
advantage) 21...a6
a) or 21...d7 22.a5 b6 23.e7 xa5 24.xd7 xd7 25.h4 c7 26.h3 xf4
27.g4 c6 28.xf4 b7 29.xd7 xd7 30.d6+
b) 21...d7 22.g4
c) 21...de8?! 22.xe8+ xe8 (or 22...xe8 23.h5 and Black cannot protect his f7
pawn: 23...f8? 24.e5) 23.xd5 d7 24.xb7+ xb7 25.e2 d5 26.h4 followed
by Ra1-c1
22.e7! xe7 23.fxe7 dg8 24.d4 d7 25.e5 c5 26.f3 e8 27.d1 and Black can
resign
19...c6?! is dubious. The game Gozzoli Brunner/Nancy 2009, continued 20.e1 c5
(20...a5 21.h4 b7 couldn't help much: 22.b3! b6 (22...c3?? 23.f1+) 23.e7+!
xe7 24.fxe7 c8 25.xb6 xb6 26.e3 a6 27.d4 and Black is in deep trouble)
21.xc5 xc5 22.e7! and Black was soon crushed
Finally, 19...c6 20.d4 h6 (20...c5?! 21.h4 e6 22.h3 is bad for Black) 21.xh6 xh6
22.xa7 is also unsatisfactory for Black.

20.d6
20.d2!? is an interesting option where White improves his queen, at the same time
keeping his f6pawn alive. 20...xf4 21.xf4 f8! Probably the only defence.
a) 21...c5? 22.xc5 xc5 23.fe1 d7 24.e5 c6 25.h3! a5 (or 25...xh3
26.e8+ d8 27.xd8+ xd8 28.b8+ d7 29.xa7+ e6 30.c8+ e5 31.e7+! xf6
32.c7+) 26.xd7+ xd7 27.d1 e6 28.dxd5! with decisive attack

b) 21...c6? 22.d4 b8 23.fe1 he8 and here in the game Nakamura


Smeets/Wijk aan Zee 2011, White could have put Black on the verge of defeat by
playing 24.f4+! c8 25.e7 For example, 25...xe7 (or 25...d4 26.xc6 xc6
27.xd4 xe7 28.fxe7 e8 29.xa7 xe7 30.a5 e6 (30...e5 31.b6+ b8 32.d5)
31.xb4 e5 32.c5 f3+ 33.g2 with technical win in the ending) 26.fxe7 e8
27.d6 and so on.
22.fc1
a) 22.e5 can be met by 22...e8!? 23.d4 e6 24.xa7 c7 with active play
69

b) while an immediate 22.b3 is also not too effective: 22...c3 23.e5 (23.d4 e6
24.xa7 d6, 23.fc1 d4) 23...a6! with the idea ...d5d4 was also good for Black:
24.e7 e6 25.xf7 d4 etc.
22...e6 23.e5 c6 24.b3 d7 25.h4 c3 (25...e8 26.h3 is better for White) 26.xc3
(26.h3 d4) 26...bxc3 27.f1 (27.xc3 c7 28.h3 e8 29.ac1 b7 is okay for Black)
27...b4 28.a6+ d8 29.xc3 c7 and Black holds on. White can force a draw by
30.d1 (or 30.a4 xa4 31.xd5+ d7 32.a8+ c8 33.d5+) 30...h5! 31.xh5 xc3
32.xd5+! xd5 33.xd5+ e8 34.a8+ d7 35.d5+ However, this line
certainly requires more thorough analysis.

20...f8 21.e7 e8

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21...xe7 22.fxe7 de8 would be a transposition.

22.e1
22.d4 seems promising but in fact it would give Black reasonable counter chances after
22...xe7 23.fxe7 h6! 24.fe1 (or 24.b3 xe7 25.fc1 e5 (25...c3!? deserved
attention: 26.f1 e5! 27.xc3! f3+ 28.g2 d7! (28...xf1+?! 29.xf3! h3
30.e2+ d8 31.f4) 29.xf3 f5+ 30.f4 xf4+ 31.xf4 f6+ 32.g5 g6+
33.h5 bxc3 34.xc3+ b8 and Black keeps reasonable drawish chances) 26.c5
c3 27.xa7 c6 28.g4+ he6 29.xe6 fxe6 and Black has got compensation for
the exchange) 24...e6 25.h3 8xe7! (25...6xe7? 26.xe7 xe7 27.c5+) 26.xe6
xe6, which might promise some edge for White after 27.e3!?

22...xe7 23.fxe7 h7!


After 23...h6?! 24.f3 f6 25.h5 White gets a clear advantage.

24.d4!?
24.b3 c3 25.d4 f6 seems less promising but thematic knight's sacrifice on c3 might be
checked at some point.
70

24...f6 25.xa7 hxe7 26.xe7


26.ed1!?

26...xe7 27.h4

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White's chances seem preferable but Black might probably defend.

71

Botvinnik Variation/10 Main lines 16.


Rb1 [D44]
Last updated: 02/03/10 by R.Scherbakov

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 f3 f6 4 c3 e6 5 g5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 h4 g5 9
xg5 hxg5 10 xg5 bd7 11 exf6 b7 12 g3 c5 13 d5 b6 14 g2 0-0-0 15
0-0 b4 16 b1!?

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This spectacular invention of Wolfgang Uhlmann become popular nowadays. Black's life is
rather difficult here.

16...a6
16...h6?! has known better times, now Black is in trouble: 17 xh6 xh6 18 b3! bxc3 (in
case of 18...cxb3 19 a4 b5 20 axb3 exd5 21 c1 White takes a strong initiative) 19
bxc4 a6 20 xb7 xb7 21 dxe6 b2 and here White gains a decisive advantage by
22 e7!+ (after 22 exd7+ xd7 23 f3 c2= White has no more than perpetual check) For
example, 22...e8 (22...dh8 23 d5! b6 24 d1 c7 25 xf7 e5 26 xd7 e1+ 27
f1+) 23 c6 d2 24 b3 b2 25 xd7+ and Black has to resign.

17 dxe6
The immediate 17 e1 can be met by a principled 17...bxc3! (17...b6?! is weaker: 18 g4
xd5 19 xd5 xd5 20 bd1!? (20 xd5 xd5 21 a3 d4 22 e4 c6 23 xd4 cxd4 24
72

axb4 xb4 25 xd4 c5 26 f4 was also better for White, Komljenovic Agopov, Villa
de Benasque 1999) 20...xg2 21 xd8+ xd8 22 xg2 c8 23 c1 xa2 24 e4

c7 (24...a6 was more tenacious but it couldn't save the game: 25 a8+ c7 26
f4+ b6 27 d8+ b5 28 a1! b6 (28...xa1? led to quick checkmate after 29
d7+ b6 30 c7+) 29 c7 b7+ 30 f3 c6 31 f4+ with decisive initiative) 25
f4+ d6 26 xd6+ xd6 27 d1+ c7 28 e5+ and Black resigned, Montella
Hanison, corr. 2000.) 18 dxe6 xg2 this position will be thoroughly analysed
below (see 18. Re1 bc3!).

17...xg2

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18 e7

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The curious 18 e1!? does not pose real problems for Black. It seems that he can simply
take the knight: 18...bxc3!
a) 18...e5? was unsuccessfully tried in the game Veingold Fridmans/Tallinn
1998: 19 xd8+! xd8 20 e7+ xe7 21 fxe7+ e8 22 xe5+ and Black found
himself in trouble since he has no time to take on c3 because of d1-d8 threat

73

b) 18...fxe6!? seems to be a playable alternative. The position after 19 xg2 bxc3 20


bxc3 (20 f7 c6+ 21 g1 g7 22 xd8 xd8 23 bxc3 xc3 24 e2 f8 followed by ...Bc3
d4 is better for Black) 20...c6+ 21 g1 d6 (21...h6 22 g4 is unclear) 22 g4
c7 is quite acceptable for Black but he should not be too relaxed as was proved in
the game Pitkaenen Iaselli/ICCF email 2000.
19 e7
a) the alternatives seem to be worse: 19 bxc3?! b6 20 e2 (20 g4 h3 21 f3 d6
22 c6+ c7-+) 20...c6 21 e7 e8
b) 19 exd7+?! xd7 20 e8+ c7 21 e2 c2!? 22 xc2 d5
19...b7 (19...c6!?) 20 exd8+ (20 e8 c6 21 f3 c2!! 22 xc2 xf3-+) 20...xd8 21 bxc3
c6 22 xb7 xb7 23 d2 c6 (with the idea ...Bf8d6) 24 f4 h5! and White's
compensation for the piece gives him only some drawish chances. Yet, perhaps
White can improve his play in this line...

18...xf1

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The bishop retreats over the long diagonal do not solve the problems: 18...b7 19 exd8+
xd8 20 e2 (in case of the dubious 20 e1?! Black is quite happy to take the
knight: 20...bxc3 21 bxc3 c6, transposing to the line which was considered above see
18. Re1 bc3!) the position after 20...c8 (after 20...f3 21 e1 d6 22 d2 a8
Black's threats on the long diagonal look dangerous but White has sufficient
resources: 23 f3! e5 (23...xf3? 24 bd1) 24 f1 xf3+ 25 xf3 xf3 26 d1 c8!?
(26...xe2?! 27 xe2 is even worse for Black) 27 xd6 xd6 28 xd6 xe2 29 c6+
b7 30 xc5+ Black is hopeless as he is losing another pawn (b4 or f7) by force
because of his unfortunately placed pieces, Atalik S.Ivanov/JUGchT, Vrnjacka
Banja 1999.) 21 f4!? (a typical 21 c2 e6 22 f3 d6 23 bd1 should be better for
White as well) 21...d6 This position arose in the game Rogers Stellwagen/Wijk
aan Zee GMB 2003. White should have probably played 22 d5!? (a routine 22
e2?! allowed Black to comfortably improve his pieces: 22...c6 23 f3 e5! 24 g2 d4
25 bd1 e5 with idea ...Ne5g4.) 22...c6 (22...e5 23 e7+ d8 24 g4 d4 25 bd1
seems clearly better for White ) 23 f4! b8 (23...xf6 gives nothing: 24 xd6 xd6 25
xf6 xf6 26 g4+ followed by Rf1-e1 or Rb1-c1) 24 f3! e5 25 xe5 xe5 26
fe1 d6 with counterplay but White's chances should be preferred.
74

18...a8 19 exd8+ xd8 20 e2 is similar to 18 ...Bb7.

19 xf1

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19 d5

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is an important alternative but recently Black seems to be able to hold on. 19...xe7!? This
capture looks risky but perhaps this is the most precise way to hold balance.
(19...h6 is another possibility: 20 xh6 (After 20 exd8+ xd8! 21 e4 h3! Black
holds on) 20...d3 21 a8+ (21 e4 gives nothing: 21...xe4 22 xe4 de8 23 g7 h5
24 d1 b5 and now White has to equalise with 25 a8+ b8 26 e4=) 21...b8 22
exd8+ xd8 23 e1! bxc3 24 f4 b6 (24...b7? 25 e7!+) 25 bxc3 f5 26 f3!? A
new idea by Loek Van Wely. (Since the game Azmaiparashvili Shirov/Madrid
1996 this endgame was known to be drawish: 26 h4 b7! (26...e6?! is weaker: 27
h2 d7 28 h5 with advantage for White) 27 xb7+ xb7 28 e7+ d7 29 xb8
xb8 30 xd7 xd7 31 g2 c7! (31...c6+? 32 f3+) 32 f3 d6 33 f4 c6!!
and White cannot make progress in moving his pawn mass. (33...e6?? is losing: 34
g5 is winning: 34...c6 35 f4 e4 36 g4 h7 37 h5 a5 38 h6 e4 39 g7+ etc.) 34 g5
f3 35 f5 d5!= and so on still according to Alexei Shirov's home analysis!)
26...e6 A good idea Black moves his bishop to the long diagonal. 27 g4 d5 28
xb8+ xb8 29 xb8 xb8 30 f2 The endgame is certainly better for White
75

he can just push his Kside pawns forward and see what will happen. It still should
be drawish but in the game Van Wely Smeets/NEDch Leeuwarden 2005 Black
failed to prove it.) 20 fxe7 d3! (20...dg8? is bad for Black: 21 e4 promises
better chances for White 21...d3 (or 21...g6 22 a8+! b8 23 xf1 (or 23 f4!?
b7 24 xb7+ xb7 25 xf1) 23...c6 24 d1!! xa8 25 d8+ c7 26 f4+ b6 27
xh8 e6 28 e8 xe8 29 xe8 d5 30 xb8+ a6 (30...a5 31 e8 f5 32 xc5 d1+
33 g2 d5+ 34 h3+) 31 e8 f5 32 e6+! a5 33 xc5+) 22 d6+ c7 23 f4
b6 24 e1+ with decisive initiative.) 21 e4 (21 exd8+ xd8 22 e4! xb1 23
d6+ c7 24 f4 is a transposition to the main line) 21...xb1 22 d6+ c7 23 f4
b6 24 xc4+ b5 25 d6+ b6 26 exd8+ xd8 Black seems to be able to hold
balance in this critical position. 27 a4!? This unexpected resource helps White to
obtain big material advantage. However, as often happens in the Botvinnik,
everything is still too far from clear!
a) The game Topalov Kramnik/Dortmund 1996 ended with repetition of moves by
27 c4+ b5 etc.
b) while after 27 xf7 e8 28 d6+ a5 29 c7+ b6 30 xd7 e1+ 31 g2 the
best defence is 31...a6!, after which White cannot prove his advantage. (not
31...e4+? 32 f3 c6 33 d2 a1 34 e5) For example, 32 d6 xa2! 33 a4+ (after
33 c8+ a5 34 c4+ xc4 35 c7 d5+ 36 f3 e2+ 37 g1 xb2 Black is not worse)
33...a5 34 c6+ b6 with a probable repetition of moves.
27...bxa3! 28 c4+ xc4! 29 xc4 a2! This faradvanced and wellfortified pawn
seriously distracts White's extra queen! Black keeps sufficient compensation for the
queen, as has been proved in the game Mikhalevski Karim/Caleta 2008.

19...xe7!?
19...bxc3? is known to be bad after the simple 20 bxc3!+ and Black cannot defend against
numerous threats.
19...c6 is also a common option but White can still maintain the better chances: 20
exd8+ xd8 21 d5 xh2 22 g1 h8 Here White has a choice. 23 c1!?
a) after 23 f4 c8!? 24 f3 b7 25 d1 h6! (in the game Rytshagov
Hermansson/Stockholm 2002 we considered 25...b6 26 g2 with a small advantage
for White) 26 h5 g7! Black is okay
b) as well as after 23 f3 e5 24 e4 d6 25 d1 d3, Van Wely
Shirov/Monte Carlo 2005
23...d6 In the game Kasimdzhanov Shirov/Linares 2009 White came up with 24 h4!?
and posed some problems for Black: 24...e5?! This typical knight's sortie is
probably not the best. (24...e5!? deserved serious attention, improving the bishop
first) 25 e7! d7 26 f4! d3 27 xc4 and Black experienced problems.
19...e8? was unsuccessfully tried in the game Veingold Korneev/Dos Hermanas 2000.
The position after 20 e4 c3+ 21 g1+ turned out to be hopeless for Black

20 fxe7 dg8 21 e4

76

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21 d5? is bad for due to 21...xg5! 22 xg5 bxc3, securing extra piece

21...xg5!
A good novelty.
21...c6 can be strongly met with 22 f3! (22 d6+ b8 (22...c7? is met by 23 f4 xh2 24
e2! b6 25 xc4+ a6 26 d6! xd6 27 xd6 f6 28 d1+) 23 f4 a8! was more or
less acceptable for Black in the game Shulman Kaidanov/USAch San Diego
2006) 22...xh2!? (both 22...f5? 23 d6+ b8 24 e2 b6 25 f4 a8 26 e1+, and
22...f6 23 f4 are in White's favour) 23 g1 hh8 24 d6+ b8 25 f4 a8 26
xf7 h5 27 e2 f6 28 e1 c3!? 29 bxc3 bxc3 30 g4! and White's chances are
clearly better although the position still remains too complicated

22 xg5 e8 23 e2
23 xf7 c3+!? 24 g2 xe7 is very unclear
while 23 d5!? xe7 24 g1 deserves attention and might have still promised the better
chances for White

23...g6!

77

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24 e4
The point of Black's previous move was that after 24 e4 he has a strong 24...xe7!,
getting a good ending after 25 xg6 fxg6 26 c1 b6 However, White may still
try to prove a slight edge.

24...xe7 25 e1 d8! 26 xc4 g4!

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27 e2!?
The only way to fight for advantage.
27 e3?? failed to 27...f5 28 d6 d1+ 29 g2 xd6-+
The game Van Wely Smeets/Wijk aan Zee 2009 ended with a repetition of moves after
27 d5 f5! 28 a8+ c7 29 xa7+ c6! (29...d8?? failed to 30 a5+! followed by
31. Nd6 with check!) 30 a8+ (But not 30 a6+? b6 with problems for White.)
30...c7

27...f3 28 e3! h1+ 29 e2 b6


78

Black has got good counter chances but it still requires more through analysis.

79