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Levon Aronian vs Veselin Topalov
Amber Blindfold (2006) (blindfold), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 2, Mar-19
Bird Opening: Dutch Variation (A03)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Mar-20-06  acirce: What exactly are the complications? Doesn't he basically just have to see the elementary continuations after a capture on h5? Am I missing something?
Mar-20-06  gus inn: no - youre not missing something.Exept
perhaps a little lack in your own calculationability.Otherwise you wouldnt put the question. But still a very nice blow by Aronian.
Just imagine , if he could actually see the board !
Mar-20-06  notyetagm: <acirce: What exactly are the complications? Doesn't he basically just have to see the elementary continuations after a capture on h5? Am I missing something?>

My point was that it was not obvious to me after 33 ... ♖xf1 34 ♖xf1 that Black then couldn't take the h5-bishop since there is no longer a White battery on the g-file to threaten ♕g7#.

This was a rapid and blindfold game and he was playing the World Champion. Many grounds for possible errors.

Mar-20-06  Monoceros: <Eric Schiller> There aren't that many games in this database with the first three moves of this game. Only sixty-eight, although it is true that other variations on the g3 idea increase the total number of "Leningrad Reversed" games to a bit over a hundred. So it doesn't seem *that* common to me, but more common than I thought.

Mar-20-06  notyetagm: <Monoceros> I have Taylor's Bird book; it's quite good. He goes into quite a bit of detail on this Reversed Leningrad line. I believe the main GM practioner is Danielsen.
Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: I have about +4-2=1 with Reversed Leningrad. Notable is L Day vs Keene, 1976 the only draw. It's a good way to play for a win.
Mar-20-06  notyetagm: <IMlday> Why do you like this opening? Because you can force it on the opponent, i.e., you get your setup regardless of what your opponent plays?
Mar-20-06  Resignation Trap: It is pretty unusual for White's pawn to remain on e2 for the entire length of a game of 51 moves.
Mar-20-06  notyetagm: <Resignation Trap> But since White is playing a Reversed Leningrad, it's not really a white pawn but a black one.


Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: <notyetaGM>
I like it because it avoids simplification which is usually drawish. I wouldn't play it mechanically for a particular set-up; there are lots of sound, interesting options beginning 1.g3 with the f-pawn unblocked.
Mar-20-06  notyetagm: <IMlday> Thanks. I am looking for an opening repertoire for White and the Bird is one of my options. I like it because as an amateur there is less to learn. It's not the Open Sicilian, that's for sure.

I just play 1 f4, make sure I know how to confront From's Gambit, and I should be ok. That Aronian played the Bird against the World Champion with mucho money at stake testifies to its inherent soundness.

Like Taylor points out in his excellent Bird book, most of the anti-Dutch lines that White can play effectively just do not work with colors reversed a tempo down.

Mar-21-06  Monoceros: I feel a little stupid. Aronian's using the Bird shouldn't have been too much of a surprise; only a week before I had read an interview of Aronian (; it's a frickin' PDF file, unfortunately) in which he mentioned Bent Larsen as one of his favourite players. And Bent Larsen played Bird's Opening a lot.
Mar-21-06  gus inn: <notyetagm> you are right : It is GM Danielsen who is the practioner of Bird.He is one of my best friends. Actually working as teacher of chess in Grønland ,Namibia and to a certain degree : Iceland.And we actually had plans about making a book on Bird. But heres a tip in Froms, which we have used with succes: f4-e5 2. fxe5-d6.3.Nf3.Nc6.4.e4 (e.g.4-Nc6.5Bb5(!). (and if black goes Bc5 , white just play
d3,Qe2+Be3).So good luck in this relatively virgin territory !

Mar-21-06  gus inn: <notyetagm> i forgot to clarify that after 4- d6xe5.White responds Bb5 with a good game.
Mar-21-06  notyetagm: <gus inn> Thanks for the opening preparation.


Mar-22-06  ajile: Beware the From's Gambit after 1.f4 e5. The lines are very dangerous for White if he doesn't know the opening. A good way to fight the From's is for White to transpose into a Kings Gambit with 2.e4! since now it's Black who has the nasty surprise.


Mar-22-06  euripides: 15...Ne3 might be worth considering. It looks as if Topalov underestimated the dynamic strength of Aronian's broken king's side pawns.
Mar-23-06  Hauketo: gus inn, you said "And we actually had plans about making a book on Bird." Any chance of you guys picking that idea up again? I know Tim Taylor has written a good book on the Bird's, but he doesn't cover the reversed Leningrad and move orders that broadly.
Mar-23-06  Sami Jr: 33. Bxh5 is a most excellent move (takes pawn for free with superior board position). It would make a great chessgames puzzle. White forces trade of rooks.

If 34... gxh5, then white has mate in three: 35. Qxg5+ Kh7 36. Rf7+ Kh8 37. Qg7# mate!.

If 34... Kxh5, 35. Qg5# mate in one.

Of course Topalov doesn't fall for either sequence, blidfold or not, but still, 33. Bxh5 eventually cost him the game in the end.

<notyetagm> I agree, I think it's only a matter of time before Aronian becomes world champion.

Mar-23-06  ajile: < Sami Jr: 33. Bxh5 is a most excellent move (takes pawn for free with superior board position). It would make a great chessgames puzzle. White forces trade of rooks. If 34... gxh5, then white has mate in three: 35. Qxg5+ Kh7 36. Rf7+ Kh8 37. Qg7# mate!.

If 34... Kxh5, 35. Qg5# mate in one.>

Your first line doesn't work. You forgot that Black's bishop on c4 covers f7. 34...gxh5 35. Qxg5+ Kh7 36. Rf7+ BxR oops!

Mar-24-06  diction: 30. Bxh5 is a surprising shot but not necessarily very good...I also doubt that Topalov missed it. why not 30.. Bd5 31. Bf3 Bxf3 to win the pawn back easy after 32. Qxf3 Qe5 or smth similar. of course the move in the game isn´t bad either

maybe white should have retreated his bishop; after 30.. Re5 31. Qg3 Í prefer 31.. Re6

32. Qg5+ Kg7 gives White nothing
32. Qxd6 Rxd6 a lot of activity = compensation, Black will probably win back the pawn too.

Perhaps it was worth intervening with 30. Rd1 before Bxh5 so that Black doesn´t have Rxf1.

Mar-24-06  Sami Jr: <agile> Ooops is right. Thanks for your observation on the oversight of Black's bishop on c4. Sadly I have lost too many games on such oversights...
Jul-28-06  Ybrevo: <Hauketo> (and to all others who are interested...) If you can still find the book "Trends - Bird´s Opening" by GM Julian Hodgson (published 1992, so it may be hard), you will have 100 games of which 46 covers the Reversed Leningrad.
May-04-07  Themofro: For those interested in learning about the Bird's Opening, i highly reccomend Timothy Taylor's Bird's Opening, also is a free website run by GM Henrik Danielsen (only GM that plays the Birds's consistently) where he uploads analysis, live blitz games etc. All of his blitz games are with the Bird's Opening (which he calls the polar bear system), and he has a entire section (labeled "the polar bear system") on the Bird's Opening, i haven't timed it or anything, but probably two hours or more of analysis on the Bird's and a couple Dutch games as well. He plays the Leningrad Bird almost exclusively, with excellent results.

For those looking for help on the Bird's opening on, i posted a min-opening repoertoire on all the lines of the Bird's opening in the Henry Edward Bird page, and have since added some lines to it, such as the Danielsen Recipe, and From's declined. Those can bve found mainly in the Bird's Opening (A02) page on here as well.

Also, for those worried about the From's gambit, you can either transpose into king's gambit, decline it with a fine position, or take the gambit at which point you have the following lines:

<1 f4 e5 2 fxe5 d6 3 exd6 Bxd6> the point: black threatens checkmate with Qh4+, attacking white's slightly weakened k-side squares. <4 Nf3, and now we have subvariations>

<4... g5> is the from Lasker and most common (i beleive) continuation. Idea is straightforward, get the knight to move, then attack on the k-side. Play now continues 5 g3 g4 6 Nh4 and most common black response is 6...Ne7, for an wonderful example of how to play this line as white (and a splendid game in general) check out T Taylor vs J Becerra-Rivero, 2005 . In general in the From Lasker, black will get a slight attack (usually around 10 moves or so) in which every move theres a trap, however someone who knows the lines and/or is alert should emerge from it with a nice white edge. Those who don't know the lines and/or aren't alert however are massacred usually.

Other than the From Lasker, black has the the 4...Nf6 mestrel (this is probably the best From line, play is relatively quiet, with a fine edge for white. The full Mestrel (one of the craziest variations is all of chess IMHO) is different however, it is so complicated that there's no definite consensus as to whos better, although white's probably slightly better. Note though that very few, if any players will play the full mestrel as black, without having studied it forever. IM Timothy Taylor says that after decades of looking at a position arising from it that he still doesn't know who's better!

And then theres the From Schlecter, 1 f4 e5 2 fxe5 Nc6, this was a very hot line at one point, and still in many computer's databases, based that if 3 Nf3? then black gets a much stronger than normal From Lasker with 3...g5. However, the correct response, 3. Nc3! and black doesn't have compensation for the pawn and white is better.

Overall consensus on the From gambit, Lasker isn't good if white knows what he's doing (WILL get mauled however if he doesn't), Mestrel variation is a bit better for white (with the Full mestrel remaining a unknown, although probably marginally better fro white) and the Schlecter From which is more or less refuted by 3 Nc3.

May-04-07  Themofro: As for the Leningrad, it is a very solid and good opening IMHO. It more or less refutes a recipe (an early Bg4 by black, with the aim of Nd7, Bxf3 and e5) as shown in my reperatoire in the Henry Edward Bird page. One of the best things on the Leningrad, is that white has a very pleasent endgame almost always, so one doesn't have to be afraid or reluctant to go into an endgame. How you play it depends, although the way Danielsen plays it generally involves, the fianchetto k-side (of course), Nf3, d3, 0-0, and Na3 (sometime a4 before Na3 if white is allowed). That is primarily against the main line Polar Bear as he calls it, ending position of that is

click for larger view

black to move.

For more information of this position and line check Danielsen's website. He's worked out a fine white response to all of blacks moves here and it's a very interesting postion. White will aim for a e4 push usually and many times white will aim for a pawn sacrifice on f5, that can be quite devestating. Black will aim for a e5 push usually. It's important to note that often times white is quite happy to allow e5 if he can get in e4 as a response to it.

Overall that position is quite pleseant for white, N on a3 will aim for c5, and maybe d6 later. white's q-Bishop and q-rook are quite slow to develop, but thats not that important in the line. Also, after e4, white bishop is usually fine placed on e3, and the a7-g1 diagonal can be monitored by it, also, if black tries to play on that diagonal, the white king is quite safe on h1 usually.

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