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Hello everybody,
Food for thought here as Black scores well from several apparently passive positions.

Download PGN of April ’16 1 e4 ... games

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3...Qd6 Scandinavian - Czebe Variation 5...g6 [B01]

The author of a recent book on the 3...Qd6 Scandinavian ("The Safest Scandinavian", Chess Stars 2016) was in action on both sides of this solid line in consecutive rounds of the Aeroflot Open.

In Kotronias - Kulaots, Black opted for the secondary option 5...g6:

This was not recommended by Kotronias in his book.

3...Qd6 Scandinavian 5...c6 6.Ne5 [B01]

In Lu Shanglei - Kotronias, White allowed Black to trade queens after 10.0-0-0:

by 10...Qg4 11.Qxg4 Bxg4. I had previously believed that White has nothing in this endgame, and Kotronias made an easy draw with Black against a dangerous opponent (and one of the revelations of the recent World Cup).

Alekhine's Defence 4.Nf3 g6 [B04]

Najer - Kamsky featured a rare continuation in a passive variation for Black, namely 9...a5:

Kamsky followed up with the consistent ...b6 and ...Ba6 and demonstrated several resources which give Black a solid, if rather prospectless, position.

Pirc Defence, Austrian Attack 5...0-0 6.e5 dxe5 7.fxe5 [B09]

In Artemiev - Petrosian, Petrosian varied from an earlier game by essaying 8...Nb6 in the dangerous variation with 6.e5:

A hard fought game ended in a draw.

Philidor Defence, Hanham Variation [C41]

Note that, although this is technically an 1 e4 e5 opening, it mostly arises from the Pirc-like 1...d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 and then 3...e5 (as here) these days, which is why I have decided to include it here.

I was impressed by the efforts of IM Peter Schmidt in the Austrian Team Championship, who used the Hanham Variation to draw with Black against strong GMs in quick succession.

First, against Stephan Bromberger, where White tried Negi's sophisticated move order, with 8.h3:

See Bromberger - Schmidt.

And then, two days later, he also drew against Thomas Luther.

Have a look at Luther - Schmidt.

On closer inspection however, White had serious chances in both games.

In part to avoid the system used by Schmidt against Luther, Parimarjan Negi suggested some sophisticated move orders in his outstanding Grandmaster Repertoire book. His suggested move order gives Black an extra option of ...Nxe4, which was tested in Sevian - Indijc:

Although White has spent some time on pawn moves on the flanks (a4, h3), Black still has passively placed pieces so it is unsurprising that this continuation (which opens the centre completely) fails to equalise, and puts Black in danger in several variations.

Till next time, Sam

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