ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Fans of the Scandinavian might have felt a bit neglected over the last few months. But their opening came good at the Tromso Olympiad with three mighty games. If you're not a fan but looking for a new opening that can beat the strongest players and also avoids theory, this might be just what you need.

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

>> Previous Update >>

Scandinavian 3.Nc3 Qd8 [B01]

Endorsed by the World Champion

The black queen returns all the way home. Would this line have won the gold medal for the best rating performance by an opening as Black, if such an award existed at the Olympiad? The diagram above was reached four times in Tromso. Black only lost once, when Magnus Carlsen was playing White.

The critical position is reached after 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bxf3 7.Qxf3 c6:

In return for the bishop pair and a slight space disadvantage, Black will achieve a full development, get his king to safety and avoid any weaknesses in his pawn structure. For some players he has paid too high a price. But others will enjoy having a secure position with the chance to outmanoeuvre the opponent.

Black got a decent position in our first game, but was then outplayed by the World Champion (how often has that happened to players?!) Here is Carlsen - Djukic.

It is a strong endorsement for the line that Carlsen was persuaded to play it himself as Black three rounds later against Fabiano Caruana. I know Magnus often experiments at Olympiads, but there was no way he was going to risk losing three games in a row as Black against one of his biggest rivals by adopting a defence he knew to be bad. As it turned out Caruana got a promising position but then went astray. He made a very instructive misjudgement as you can see in Caruana - Carlsen.

In our third game Sergey Karjakin has a crack at defeating 3....Qd8. Like Caruana, he was doing pretty well but then suffered a blackout. Perhaps it is a delayed reaction from being taken out of theory so early? In any case, Black had another nice scalp in Karjakin - Iotov.

Alekhine's Defence Four Pawns Attack 5...g6 [B03]

Provocative play with bishops as well as knights

Also at the Olympiad there was an exciting game where Faisal Khairallah, rated 2307, almost beat Victor Bologan, rated 2654, with Black. The Lebanese player's weapon of choice was the Alekhine with 5...g6!? 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 Be6!?:

In the Alekhine Defence Black normally uses his knights to provoke White into (hopefully) loosening pawn advances. In this variation Black employs his bishop for the same purpose. Bologan resists the urge to advance 8.d5 but is soon in hot water in Bologan - Khairallah.

Modern 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.f4 a6 [B06]

A critical variation in the Tiger Modern

Here we'll take a look at 5.Nf3 b5 6.Bd3 Nd7 7.e5 c5:

Gawain Jones has described this variation as 'the critical line of the so called Tiger's Modern.' Black's pawns are doing great things on the queenside, but his kingside is undeveloped. In this month's game Black revives a move with a bad reputation. Have a look at Kukawski - Petrosian.

Caro-Kann Advance 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4 [B12]

How to get 9/10 at the Olympiad

Samuel Shankland of the US got 9/10 and a Gold medal on Board 5 at the Olympiad. To make such a big score you need to pay uncompromising chess. In the variation 4...h5 5.Bg5 Qb6 6.Bd3

Most players are content to play 6...Bxd3 7.Qxd3 e6. But Shankland grabbed the hot pawn on d4 with 6...Qxd4. You can see how play unfolded in Vazquez - Shankland.

Caro-Kann Advance 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 [B12]

Various adventures in the Short System at the Olympiad

When it comes to winning an Olympiad, you need players who can block 2700+ opposition with the black pieces. Ding Liren had some great wins in Tromso- we'll see one below- but he also got important draws as Black against players such as Radjabov and Ponomariov. We'll see the first of these games here. In the Short Variation he essayed the immediate 5...c5 attacking d4 and had to face the dangerous reply 6.Be3:

With his improvement on move eight the Chinese Super GM managed to revitalise a variation that was looking suspect for Black in Radjabov - Ding Liren.

Next up is the Short Variation with the trendy move 5...Ne7. Viktor Laznicka scored an important win at the Olympiad against Svidler, helping the Czech Republic beat Russia 3-1. He did so by improving on one of his earlier games in Svidler - Laznicka.

In the same round Ding Liren had to face Perunovic. The wily Serbian Grandmaster decided to stop him playing his 5...c5 system (see above) by developing his knight to b3 quickly with 4.Nd2 e6 5.Nb3:

Once again Ding Liren improved on theory. With so many new ideas, he is a potential individual World Champion. Here is Perunovic - Ding Liren.

That's all for this month. I hope you enjoyed the games. Best of luck with your chess!

Best Wishes, Neil.

>> Previous Update >>

Please post you queries on the 1 e4 ... Forum, or subscribers can email me at