What is modern chess?
To me, modern chess is characterized by intensive computer-aided opening preparation, extreme precision in attack and defense, and a willingness to take risks to win with either color. The initiative is at a premium these days and staying slightly ahead of the elusive curve is of paramount importance to the 2011 chess professional.
At the 2011 European Championship taking place in Aix les Bains, France, this breed of chess is on full display. Through 9 rounds the 393 player field (including 172 GMs, according to ChessBase!) have produced a great many new ideas and exciting games. Of the 962 games I was able to download from the tournament website, only 36% (351) were drawn - a very reasonable proportion for such an elite event (overall, White is scoring 55% to Black's 45%). With two rounds remaining, there are 12 GMs atop the leaderboard with 7/9.
One of these is GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland. Though perhaps best known as Anand's second in last year's World Championship match, Wojtaszek is a tremendous player in his own right. He broke 2700 in September, ranks 33rd in the world, and employs a high-energy style that has allowed him to shoot up the rating charts (his graph is the image in this post).
Wojtaszek's round seven victory over GM Zbynek Hracek particularly caught my eye. In a topical line of the Nimzo-Indian, the young Pole played in a manner that typifies the modern-day greats:
Don't be surprised if this guy is busting down the door to the top 10 soon!
As an interesting side note, GM Sebastian Feller - who is facing serious accusations of past cheating from his own federation - is in the hunt with 6.5/9. It would be pretty interesting if he could pull off a couple victories in the last two rounds.