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In this update we see Anand attempting to improve on his match against Carlsen, in a Classical Caro, but before that we see plenty more exciting and original play featuring a couple of Pirc/Moderns and an Alekhine's, as well as the usual Caro Kanns.

Download PGN of April '14 1 e4 ... games

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Alekhine's Defence - 4.Nf3 Bg4 [B05]

We start off with a mainline in Motylev - Appel with a very typical position being reached after 14.Kh2:

Appel opts for the tricky 14...Bxc5!? in this position but I'm not convinced by it really. Instead Black should still to the more solid positions after 14...f5!

Modern Defence - 4.f4 [B06]

Next we have a critical line of the Modern Defence. Zhao Jun-Liu Qingnan deviates from a game I covered last year with 9...c5:

and White responds with the critical 10.Be4. The resulting game is very complicated, where a mistake from either side can be very costly. That being said I think with best play White has some edge in this line, but in the game White goes wrong and ends up on the defensive.

Modern Defence - 4.Be3 & 5.Nf3, 5...Qb6 [B06]

Our next game attempts to answer an interesting question: after 5...Qb6 can Black really get away with taking on b2 after 6.Qd2 ?

In Akopian - Iordachescu the answer is 'yes' as Black consolidates his extra pawn and goes on to win, but White can clearly improve on this and I think the line is very risky for Black. Still, it's worthwhile as a surprise option, particularly as I don't think the safe 6.Rb1 offers White much.

Caro-Kann - Two Knights Variation 3...Nf6 4.e5 Ne4 [B11]

It's onto the Caro for the rest of this update, starting with an unusual line of the Two Knights. 3...Nf6 can often lead to original play and the position after 7.Nfg1! definitely falls into this category!

Amazingly Black is losing a piece already, and although things aren't totally clear (as he gets 3 pawns for it) I think Black should avoid this if possible! For the full story see Dvoirys - Kabanov.

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

This line has been in fashion for the last few years and as a result it's appeared on ChessPublishing plenty of times, however usually with the mainline - 5.c4. Instead, in Mareco - Molina we see the relatively rare 5.Bg5. An important position is reached after 5...Qb6 6.Bd3 Bxd3 7.Qxd3 e6 8.Nd2:

and Black opts for the solid 8...Qa6. Molina doesn't quite manage to equalise, though, and I suspect that 8...c5! is instead more critical.

Caro-Kann Advance 3...Bf5 4.Nd2 [B12]

White has lots of interesting move orders against 3...Bf5 and in Perunovic - Dreev we see White dispense with the usual 4.Nf3 in favour of a quick Nd2-b3. You would think this would prevent an early ...c5 but that's just what we see in this game! 8.a4!? seems to be a new idea:

and Perunovic goes on to sacrifice his e-pawn for a strong initiative. Dreev is unable to find the most accurate defence and White goes on to score an impressive victory.

Caro-Kann Advance 3...c5 4.Ne2 [B12]

Perunovic is in action again in our next game, this time with 4.Ne2 against 3...c5 in the Advance. This is likely to transpose to 4.Nf3 in many lines but is lessens the strength of 4...Bg4 (since the pin can just be broken with f3). A critical position is reached after 9.cxd5:

and Black recaptures 9...cxd5, which I criticised in my notes to Naiditsch-Khenkin last year. This game does little to change my opinion as White gains a clear advantage from the opening. See Perunovic - Riazantsev for the game and possible improvements.

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

As promised we finish with Anand - Andreikin. 7...e6 used to be considered just inferior, but Carlsen used it to score an easy draw against Anand in their World Championship match. It seems 15.Qf3!? is Vishy's improvement on that game:

but I'm not sure if it's enough for an objective edge. Still the position is complicated and Black has plenty of problems to solve and Andreikin is the first to crack. Anand gains a clear edge and is close to winning at many points, but with the tournament situation factored in (a draw almost guaranteed him 1st place in the Candidates and a rematch with Carlsen) he ended up taking a 3-fold repetition.

That's all for this month, see you soon. Tom.

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