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Open Catalan

After a month of not being able to post a game, it finally works now, so my column can finally resume.

This week’s column is on the open Catalan, after examining the closed Catalan last week month.  Obviously, the difference between these 2 systems is that one leads to an open position, and the other leads to closed structures. Just like last week, there isn’t a specific order of moves, but simply when black releases the central tension with ….dxc4

 

Basic Theory:

Examples:

 

 

Kramnik came with an unsound novelty, so Leko was out of his book fast. Leko had emerged with a pleasant position, but made a mistake which gave Kramnik an edge. Then when Leko was given a choice between 2 seemingly identical choices, he picked the wrong square and then succumbed to Kramnik’s attack.

 

White had an uncomfortable position after 20.e5? which weakened kingside light squares. Carlsen created a dangerous attack on the king with few pieces left on the board, so Eljanov was forced to bail out for a lost ending.

 

 

This 10. Na3 line is quite trendy right now at the highest level, but due to fast entrances into drawish endings I can’t recommend it. Anand couldn’t make any progress.

Conclusion:

Unlike the closed Catalan, in the open Catalan both sides have so many possibilities in the opening that the game can take many different characters that I can’t give a universal guide on what to do that will apply to every line. I will tell you that black is pretty much forced to break with …c5 or …e5, and white will keep his center at all costs. Again, this opening is highly theoretical, so despite all the variations in the basic theory, it was basic. There are many lines I didn’t include because I don’t have a month to write this (this week notwithstanding). The theory is an introduction to what opening I am examining, not a through guide.

If you have suggestions for next week, let me know!

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