An important improvement?

ArnieChipmunk
CM ArnieChipmunk
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0 | Chess Event Coverage
An opening that is currently not very popular at the highest level, is the Tarrasch Defence. You mainly see Slavs, Queen's Indians and thanks to Radjabov many King's Indians as well these days. Although Grischuk uses the Tarrasch occasionally, no top player seems to have seriously studied the opening since Kasparov in the eighties. The reason might be that Black players unconsciously associate it with boring positions and a draw as the best possible result. This is a misconception.

The Tarrasch Defence is a dynamic opening in which Black obtains active piece play in exchange for an isolated d-pawn or a weakish c-pawn, which only leads to a draw if White refuses to try and win or doesn't act pointedly. In my own experience with Black, I have a pleasant overscore against equal rated opponents. In a recent blitz game against Loek van Wely, I managed to make an easy draw with it. In the Premier League of the Dutch competition, my White opponents also seem to have trouble 'breaking through', even if they prepared specifically for it.

Last week, in the match of my team Homburg Apeldoorn versus LSG from Leiden, I got a Tarrasch on the board again. In that game, I got the opportunity to play an improvement on a Khalifman recommendation, which, in my humble opinion, solves the problems in one of the most important lines for White.

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If the move 16...Qd7! (or the entire idea Qe7-d7) after 16.Qa4 is indeed an improvement on known theory, this means in my view that White has to start looking for another way to obtain an advantage against the Tarrasch. Perhaps with the 'positional' approach 9.dxc5, or with the sharp move 11.f4!? The question that intrigues me most is why Khalifman, who did know the idea after 15.Qc2, doesn't mention the move Qd7 in this position.

Until I get an answer to this question, my conclusion is that Black is alive in (this variation of) the Tarrasch Defence...
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