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Last month I mentioned that there hadn't been a 1.e4... game yet in the Candidates and for a long while it looked like that was how it was going to stay. Then in the last round we saw Kramnik, needing to win as Black, playing the Pirc against Ivanchuk in a game that helped decide who would face Anand for the World Championship! More on that later...

Download PGN of April '13 1 e4 ... games

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Centre Counter 2...Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 [B01]

I've not really looked at 3...Qd8 very much so we start this month's update with two games in this line which continued 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4:

In Brkic - Bogdanovski Black now played 5...Bf5 which allowed the aggressive 6.Ne5! when Black already has to be careful and 6...e6?! quickly led Black into trouble.

Instead the more solid 5...c6 was preferred in Perez Mitjans-Monell Camarasa and after 6.Bc4 Nbd7 7.Qe2 Nb6 8.Bb3 Black tried to improve over his own previous effort with 8...Bf5, but after some forceful play by White, especially 11.f4!:

he probably regretted not sticking to 8...a5.

Alekhine's Defence - 4.Nf3 c6 [B04]

The position after 9.c4! has been seen before on ChessPublishing in the notes to Fedorchuk-Shchekachev:

Here Gawain suggested that White need not be afraid of 9...Nb4 10.a3 Nc2 and I've added my own thoughts to his analysis. Both players seemed to agree in Hracek - Appel, as the knight instead retreated back with 10...Na6, but if this is really Black's best move then the whole line is in some doubt for Black. White won relatively easily.

Pirc Classical [B08]

Now we come to the highlight (hopefully) of this month's update, the crucial game Ivanchuk - Kramnik. With Kramnik needing to better Carlsen's last round result (as White against Svidler) it seemed nothing but a win would do for Vladimir, but as we now know a draw would've sent him through. Sadly for Kramnik fans Chucky wasn't in a generous mood, and won a strong game. After 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.0-0 0-0 6.Be2 Black chose the provocative 6...a6 7.h3 Nc6!? but 8.Bg5 kept some advantage:

Yemelin - Iturrizaga reached the same position from a different move order after 6 moves, but here Black chose the more popular 6...c6. A critical position for the line is reached after 9.e5:

9...dxe5 has been analysed here before, but in this game Black shows 9...Nh5 10.Bg5 f6!? to be a reasonable option as well. The game isn't without mistakes but eventually Black comes out on top.

Caro-Kann Advance - 3...Bf5 4.h4 [B12]

The line with 4...h6 5.g4 Bd7 6.h5 has featured a lot recently, but in Kovacevic - Lupulescu White instead opts for 6.c4. This can also be dangerous but White has to play vigorously to keep an initiative.

Here 10.Be3?! was too slow and White went on to lose a rather painful game, but I've outlined a more aggressive approach in the notes.

Advance - Short Variation [B12]

Black often plays ...Ne7-c8 in these lines but rarely so quickly. In Negi - Lauber Black chooses 4...e6 5.Be2 Ne7 6.0-0 Nc8!? and now White has a large number of plans. Negi goes for 7.Nbd2 Be7 8.Ne1!? and eventually outplays his opponent, but Black was doing fine from the opening.

Caro-Kann - Classical 4...Bf5, 7...e6 [B19]

This month we end with a look at the line 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 e6!? 8.Ne5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 Nd7 11.f4! which was analysed a while ago by Andrew Martin in Kasparov-Bareev (see the PGN Archive).

In Saric - Nisipeanu Black deviates from that encounter with 11...c5 and holds a fairly easy draw. In fact, Black has been drawing quite comfortably in this line so I've had a look for a different way for White to handle the position in the notes.

That's all for this month - see you again soon! Tom.

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