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Hi guys, this month’s update features a couple of games from yours truly, namely the games in the Alekhine and Pirc Defences, while the main focus is on 3...Bf5 in the Caro-Kann. Other openings examined are the Modern Defence and the Pseudo-Panov Variation in the Caro-Kann.

Download PGN of August ’19 1 e4 ... games

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Alekhine Defence, Miles' Variation 4...dxe5 5 Nxe5 c6 6 Be2 Bf5 7 0-0 [B04]

In the first round of the British, my opponent surprised me with a line he had found from an article. The opening moves were 3 Nf3 d6 4 d4 dxe5 5 Nxe5 c6 6 Be2 Bf5 7 0-0 Nd7 8 Nf3 e6 9 c4 N5f6 10 Nc3 Bd6 11 Nh4, now the main move is the natural 11...Bg6, which we have not yet covered. Instead, my opponent blitzed out 11...0-0. An interesting idea, but probably a bit unnecessary. Following 12 Nxf5 exf6 13 Qc2 g6, I could have gained a sizeable advantage with the direct 14 c5 Bc7 15 Bg5. Instead I opted for 14 h3 Re8?!:

Now 15 Bf3 Qc7 16 g3! is the key idea in White’s position, stunting the bishop on d6 and preparing to take up the long diagonal himself. See my notes to the game Tan, J - Wall, T.

Modern Defence 4 Be3 a6 5 h4 [B06]

In the game, Moussard, J - Kamsky, G I take a look at a rather too aggressive approach against the Modern Defence: 4 Be3 a6 5 h4 h6 6 f4:

Black now responded thematically with 6...h5! after which, he gained a very comfortable position and slowly outplayed his weaker opponent.

Pirc Defence 4 Be3 a6 5 f4 [B07]

Far less convincing was the game, Lane, G - Tan, J which opened with the topical 4 Be3 a6 and now the clearly improvised move 5 f4!?:

While this version of the Austrian Attack felt wrong to me, it may be one of the more testing responses to Black's setup! 5...b5 was met with the casual 6 a3?! while 6 e5! is quite a challenging move to face for Black. In any case, the game took an unusual course, which ended abruptly with my ‘tactical draw offer’ in a losing position, accepted by my opponent in time trouble.

Caro-Kann Defence, Pseudo-Panov Variation 5...g6 6 Bb5+ [B10]

Perhaps not critical from an objective standpoint, but if White ever needs a draw against the Caro-Kann, one of the simpler and more mundane lines is 1 e4 c6 2 c4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 cxd5 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6 6 Bb5+ Nbd7 7 Nf3. White’s idea is that after 7...Bg7, he gives up the pawn with 8 d6!? which either leads to a position in which both players have isolated d-pawns or as in the game, he remains material ahead. The game Dgebuadze, A - Sterck, A continued 8...0-0 9 dxe7 Qxe7 10 Be2:

Black responds actively with 10...b5!?, to which, I like the idea of accepting the sacrifice, putting the onus on Black to prove its worth.

Caro-Kann, Two Knights Variation 3...Bg4 4 h3 Bxf3 5 Qxf3 Nf6 6 Be2 [B11]

Tricky is the line 2 Nf3 d5 3 Nc3 Bg4 4 h3 Bxf3 5 Qxf3 Nf6 6 Be2 e6 7 0-0 Bc5 8 Rd1 Bd4 9 Qf4!? employed by Vachier Lagrave in a rapid game:

The Czech number one immediately erred with 9...e5? which leads to a clearly worse position after 10 Qg3. Instead, Black must play into White’s sacrifice with 9...Bxc3 10 bxc3 Nxe4. Risky-looking but okay for him. See my notes to the game, Vachier Lagrave - Navara, D.

Caro-Kann, Advance Variation 3...Bf5 4 Nd2 e6 5 Nb3 Nd7 [B12]

A line I’ve approved of for White, if he wants to try to gain an advantage against the solid Caro-Kann Defence, is the line 3 e5 Bf5 4 Nd2 e6 5 Nb3 Nd7 6 Nf3:

Here, Black has many moves. In the Irish Championships, Murphy, C - Astaneh Lopez, A saw 6...h6 to which White responded with the rather eager 7 a4. This is interesting and also makes some sense but it’s also a little premature, as for instance, Black may respond with 7...c5!

Instead of all this, the young Russian expert, Andrey Esipenko, employed the sideline, 6...Qc7. The point of this unassuming move is to play for ...c5 on favourable terms. After 7 Be2 c5 8 c3 h6 (8...c4 is probably my preference). 9 dxc5 Bxc5 10 Nxc5 Nxc5 11 Nd4 Ne7:

White erred with 12 Nxf5?! Nxf5 and he already had to weaken his king with 13 g4 Nh4 14 Kf1,which didn’t work out too well. See my notes to the game, Soumya, S - Esipenko, A.

Caro-Kann Advance, Short Variation 5...Ne7 6 c3 h6 7 0-0 Nd7 8 Nbd2 [B12]

Finally, we turn to another topical line in the Advance - namely 3...Bf5 4 Nf3 e6 5 Be2 Ne7 6 c3. White has an aesthetic plan to expand on the queenside with b2-b4 and an eventual a2-a4-a5. White realises this after 6...h6 7 0-0 Nd7 8 Nbd2 Bh7 9 b4!?. We have previously looked at the direct 9...a5, which doesn’t quite equalise. Georgian GM, Badur Jobava chose to play 9...Ng6 10 Nb3 Be7. I believe White still has a small edge with 11 Ne1 although Black does get a fighting game after the immediate 11...b6!? with the dual purposes to play either for a7-a5 or c6-c5. Jobava found this concept but castled first. However, after 11...0-0 12 f4 b6, White appears to gain a strong initiative with 13 Bd3 followed by f4-f5. Instead, the timid 13 Be3 was essayed:

...the Georgian great developed an initiative with the instructive 13...a5! See the game, Xu, Y - Jobava, B.

Till next time! Justin :)

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