When studying openings I look attentively to what (strong) grandmasters play, which I already mentioned earlier in my article to analyze with a computer. However my choice of openings still remains something very personal. Besides this choice is already more or less for 20 years fixed (see the article the sequence). Even a line is only replaced when really no repairing is anymore possible (examples on my blog are Dutch steps in the English opening , the fake truth ). This all fits in the philosophy of the scientific approach but most players play the game a lot more competitive. Swapping between openings is done regularly just to become not too predictable.
This means a continuous search for new playable openings. An amateur has mostly neither the time, nor the courage to do all the necessary research so we look to what grandmasters have in their repertoire. Naturally the stronger the grandmaster, the more players are attracted to this repertoire. If an absolute topgrandmaster starts to play an opening which is on top also easily playable for other players (amateur or prof) then we sometimes see a chain-reaction. A few players pick it up and their opponents are so impressed that they too insert the opening in their repertoire. If after some time it also turns out that black can show a plus-score on master-level than it completely goes wild.
Some smart readers in the meantime will realize that I want to discuss this time the Aronian system or also called sometimes the Cozio defense deferred. 5 years ago this variant was still considered as eccentric but today a lot of (strong) players are playing it. The system has some unique characteristics. First it gives a direct answer on the Spanish, which today is still considered as the main-weapon for white after e5. So it is in the same category of openings like the Schliemann-gambit or the Berlin. On top we can play the opening via a number of sequences. When Aronian started to play the system in 2009, he chose for the sequence 1.e4 e5 2.Pf3 Pc6 3.Lb5 Pge7 4.0-0 a6 5.La4 g6 6.c3 Lg7. However soon it was discovered that it is also possible to play first a6 or even g6. These permutations mean permitting or excluding certain side-lines. I don't know the sensitivities but I do know that since 2011, Aronian changed to the sequence 1.e4 e5 2.Pf3 Pc6 3.Lb5 a6 4.La4 Pge7 etc. This means the exchange variant of the Spanish is again permitted but probably some nasty lines (quick d4?) are avoided. The impact of this change can be clearly seen if we put in a time-line the popularity (number of games per year with a player of +2300 in my database) with this specific sequence.
Also end of last year in the European championship for countries (in which Bart achieved the grandmaster title) we noticed several games with this opening. First I want to show a marvelous game played by Aronian whom refutes harshly the white experiment.
|Popularity 1.e4 e5 2.Pf3 Pc6 3.Lb5 a6 4.La4 Pge7|
[Event "ETCC (Open)"] [Site "Warsaw POL"] [Date "2013.11.12"] [Round "5.25"] [White "Pavasovic, Dusko"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2563"] [BlackElo "2801"] [ECO "C70"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nge7 5. Bb3 d5 6. Nc3 Be6 7. Ng5 Nd4 8. O-O Nxb3 9. axb3 d4 10. Nxe6 fxe6 11. Ne2 d3 12. cxd3 Qxd3 13. b4 Nc6 14. Ra3 Qxe4 15. Re3 Qc4 16. Ng3 O-O-O 17. Re4 Qb5 18. Qg4 Kb8 19. d3 Rxd3 20. Be3 g6 21. h4 Bxb4 22. h5 gxh5 23. Nxh5 Bd2 24. Nf6 Bxe3 25. fxe3 Qb3 26. Kh2 Qxb2 27. Qxe6 h5 28. Nd7 Ka7 29. Qf6 Rd2 0-1
Readers following my blog already for some time, will certainly understand that I am not surprised that our Belgium topplayer Tanguy Ringoir also has picked up this opening in his repertoire. Also he became a real fan of it which obviously is strengthened if you win games as shown below.