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This month we’ll see the conflict between Hypermodern and Classical chess at its finest.

Download PGN of April ’17 1 e4 ... games

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Scandinavian 2...Nf6 3 d4 Bg4 4 f3 Bf5 [B01]

Objectively this line is a bit dubious for Black but it is worth a go if you are feeling adventurous. The complexities will baffle players who haven’t studied it in detail- which means most or all of your opponents. In contrast at the highest levels everyone comes well-armed.

In this month’s game the Brazilian Grandmaster Alexandr Fier avoids the usual 5.Bb5+ and puts Black under pressure with some sharp preparation beginning 5.c4 e6 6.Nc3 exd5 7.g4. Check out Fier, A - Kulkarni, R.

Scandinavian 2...Qxd5 3 Nc3 Qd6 4 d4 Nf6 5 Nf3 a6 6 g3 [B01]

Here we’ll take a look at 6...g6:

In general I have a lot of sympathy for the plan of putting pressure on d4 with Bg7. In the version here Black has first of all ruled out 5 Nb5 ideas with 5...a6 and only then ventured to fianchetto. The question is whether he can afford to play in this slightly passive manner. It comes down to some concrete variations. Here is an unexpected winning move for White in a line which could arise.

White to play and win. You can find all the analysis in Ivanisevic, I - Milanovic, Da.

Alekhine’s Defence Exchange 5...exd6 6.Nc3 Be7 7.Bd3 Nc6 8.Nge2 0-0 [B03]

Grandmaster Robert Markus of Serbia knows his Nimzowitsch. Here after 9 b3 he tried the unusual move 9..a5!?:

His plan was to first restrain, then blockade, and lastly destroy White’s queenside pawn structure. It all went perfectly after an insipid response by White in Pap, M - Markus, Rob.

Modern Defence: 150 Attack 4 Be3 a6 5 Qd2 [B06]

Here 5...b5 is the most popular move: Black wants to use ...b5-b4, or the threat of it, to undermine the white centre. He also clears the way for the Bb7 to put pressure on e4. Now after 6 h4 in an earlier update one of the commentators wondered why (compared to 6...h5) the move 6...Nf6 isn't played much:

It certainly gave Black some scary moments in Nitin, S - Mchedlishvili, M.

Pirc Defence 4 Nge2 Bg7 5 g3 [B07]

The fianchetto was popular against the Pirc during Karpov's reign as World Champion- for example see his awesome positional win versus Timman that is given in the archives (beginning with the move 4.g3 rather than 4.Nge2.) It seems that everyone hopes that by playing a World Champion's opening some of their magic will wear off on them. Alas it doesn’t always work.

A shrewd move order for Black after 5...0-0 6 Bg2 Nbd7 7.h3 begins 7...Rb8!:

It is investigated in Reichmann, E - Schmidt, Pe1.

Pirc Defence: Austrian Attack 5 Nf3 0-0 6 Bd3 [B09]

Next up is a model game by Black after the moves 6...Na6 7.0-0 c5 8.d5 Bg4 9.h3?!:

These days you can only get so far by playing natural moves in the opening. White breaks the pin on f3 and grabs at the bishop pair, but he allows Black significant queenside counterplay. The Grandmaster from Ukraine demonstrated his technique with one or two hiccups in Bellia, F - Onischuk, V.

Caro-Kann/ Modern Hybrid 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 g6 4.d4 Bg7 5.h3 [B15]

In the US Championship Alexander Shabalov surprised Jeffrey Xiong with the rather rare line 5...Nf6 6.e5 Ne4 7.Nxe4 dxe4 8.Ng5 c5!:

Black has to attack d4 quickly or else perish due to the weak pawn on e4. White has a variety of options here which I’ve summarised in the analysis. In the game White quickly went wrong and suffered a startling defeat in Xiong, J - Shabalov, A.

Caro-Kann Classical 4...Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nh3 [B18]

Our final game is also from the US Championship. Nakamura demonstrated deep theoretical work, shrewd psychology and tactical precision. Here is the position after 6...Nf6 7.Nf4 Nbd7 8.Bc4 Qc7 9.0-0 e6:

Well would you play 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Nxe6 to get at the black king? Having turned down the chance to make this promising-looking sacrifice out of (understandable) fear of his opponent’s preparation, White quickly wilted. You can find the full story in Zherebukh, Y - Nakamura, Hi.

That’s all for this month. I hope you enjoyed the update and maybe picked up a couple of ideas to help your chess.

Good luck! Neil.

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