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August '00 Update

This month by popular request I have done a special update based on your e-mails. Last month I recieved a fair bit of correspondence, so thanks for all your questions.

Two lines that feature strongly in your emails are the Exchange Variation of the Caro Kann (as requested by Janus Theron from South Africa), and the Fantasy Variation (as asked for by Mike Ridge), so here is a special update on these variations.

Exchange Variation

Fantasy Variation

Exchange Variation

AV196 A humble-looking move is in fact a very interesting novelty which poses serious problems for Black.

AV197 A good possibility for Black. In comparison with 7...Qd7, 7...Qc8 has its merits and drawbacks. Now Black can't exchange dark-squared bishops by playing ...Bd6, but on the other hand now Black is not forced to exchange his light-squared bishop with White's Knight on f3 (Ne5 is no longer threatened).

AV198 5...Qc7 is an interesting attempt to prevent 6 Bf4. The move is played rather seldom but certainly it deserves more attention.

AV199 5...g6 leads to more complicated play. As we already know, the most likely White plan is K-side activity. After the flank development of Black's bishop White's chances for a K-side attack are minimal. Moreover, sometimes Black tries to seize the initiative here exchanging light-squared Bishops on the f5-square hoping to obtain pressure on the g-file. The drawback of this plan is that Black's Bishop is restricted by White's pawn chain (d4-c3-b2) and cannot support his minority attack on the Q-side.

AV200 In my opinion 6 Bf4 is inferior to Morozevich's 6.Nf3 since it's premature to commit the position of White's dark-square Bishop.

Exchange Variation

Fantasy Variation

Fantasy Variation

AV201 With the solid 3...g6 Black solves his opening problems successfully, and here he even gets a tiny edge.

AV202 A new and very interesting continuation after which a very sharp position with opposite sides castling arises where Black's chances are by no means worse.

AV203 3...e6 is also playable for Black and again an interesting race brews on opposite sides of the board.

AV204 The line with 3...dxe4 4 fxe4 e5 has quite a dubious reputation since Black has suffered many quick losses. Nevertheless in my opinion it's perfectly playable for Black (provided he knows the theory, of course!).

AV205 Black essays a line which had previously been thought to be insufficient for him. But after this game this evaluation should be reconsidered.