New In Chess novelty of the year 2019

New In Chess novelty of the year 2019

| 2

What do you do when you are a 2600 player and are playing Black against a 16-year-old, 2700-rated rising star, who is an expert in the King's Indian Defence? You beat him with Black using the King's Indian Defence and by finding the novelty of the year over the board!

Every year, New In Chess Yearbook readers vote for the novelty of the year. This year Murali Karthikeyan won the contest for his queen sacrifice against Alireza Firouzja in the Neo-Makogonov Variation of the Kings Indian Defence. The young GM from India received more than 60 percent of the votes leaving novelties of Magnus Carlsen, Alexander Grischuk, and Wesley So far behind.  

You would expect the novelty of the year to be based on deep home analysis using the latest insights from neural network engines. Not this year!  After a 5-minute think Alireza Firouzja played in the following position 8. Nd2 where 8.Qd2 is played most often and 8.Bd3 is considered best.

Position after 7... Qa5
White spends 2 tempi (Nd2-Nb3) to chase the Black queen and is targeting a Maroczy bind structure after e.g. 8... exd4 9. Nb3 Qh5 10. Nxd4 where White has more space and control in the center and is slightly better. But Karthikeyan did not comply with Firouzja's strategy and unleashed a shocking novelty in the following position:
Position after 9. Nb3
After a long think, Karthikeyan played here 9... Qxc3!!N sacrificing the queen for 2 pieces and a superior pawn structure. The weaknesses in White's pawn structure gives Black very active piece play that more than compensates for his material deficit especially in an over the board game.
Position after 9... Qxc3 10. bxc3 dxe3
In this position, White has to choose between:
- accepting 4 pawn islands (after e.g. 11. Bd3 exf2 or 11. fxe3) with many weak squares (e.g. c5, e5) that become ideal outposts for Black pieces;
- limiting the damage to his pawn structure by playing f3 weakening White's dark squares and giving Black the opportunity to protect pawn e3, making it a thorn in White's position. While White is spending a lot of time capturing the e3 pawn, Black in the meantime activates all his pieces and targets White's weak pawns.
Firouzja chose the latter but was unable to hold.
Croatian GM Davorin Kuljasevic analyzed this game extensively and for New In Chess and you can find his annotations below.

FM Terry Chapman, who recently was interviewed by Ben Johnson for the Perpetual Chess Podcast stated that before every tournament he goes through the New In Chess Yearbook series to get inspired and to find fresh opening ideas to include in his opening repertoire. It make him eager to play especially if he can surprise his opponent with a Yearbook opening idea.

GM Erwin L'Ami writes in the New In Chess Yearbook series about novelties from correspondence games that have value for over the board player. As the second of Anish Giri, who is one of the best prepared top players, you can be sure that he knows what he is talking about.

I play the Scotch Gambit with White and published a Scotch Gambit Beginner's guide on Chessable. The following beautiful novelty including the subsequent sacrifice by GM Krishnan Sasikiran had my special interest:

Position after 12.f4. Black plays 12... f6!?
The standard move in this position is 12... Ne4. The move 12... Ne6 is also good. Sasikiran introduced in this position the novelty 12... f6!?. An amazing discovery in a well known position, especially for a correspondence game! After 13. fxg5 fxe5 14. Nf5 d4 Black wins the piece back and has comfortable play. But how does Black continue after 13.exf6?
Position after 13. exf6. Black plays 13... Nh3!
After 13... Nh3!! 14. gxh3, Black is a piece down but Black has sufficient compensation as Sasikiran shows. White's king is vulnerable, Black has a lead in development and the bishop pair. Please see the game with the annotations of Erwin L'Ami below. 
They often say that chess players spend to much time on opening preparation. This is true, but I do agree with FM Terry Chapman that the New In Chess Yearbook series is a source of inspiration that makes you appreciate the richness and beauty in chess. You can use the opening ideas in the Yearbook series to spice up your opening repertoire. Both elements make you more eager to play which in itself will contribute to your success behind the chessboard.