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My thanks to Danny for taking over last month. A wide selection of openings for this last update of 2012.

Download PGN of December '12 1 e4 ... games

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Centre Counter - 3...Qd6 [B01]

We start out with two games in the 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 g6 line:

Leko - Caruana sees the critical 6.Nb5 Qb6 7.Na3!? - White should've had the better chances but Caruana comes up with a good plan in the middlegame and holds the draw without too many problems.

He is again Black in the next game which features the less theoretical 6.Bc4 - White gets absolutely nothing from the opening and Black wins a model game in Dominguez Perez-Caruana but White could've tried 9.a4 to set more problems.

Centre Counter - 3.Nf3 [B01]

Given that 3...Qd6 (and other lines) are proving hard to crack, White players might like to investigate 3.Nf3 instead. In Short - Liiva White gets a good position after 3...Nf6 4.Be2 Bg4 5.0-0 e6 6.h3!:

Alekhine's Defence 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Bc4!? [B03]

Are you looking for a non-theoretical way to give Black some problems in the Alekhine? If so this may be the line for you!

That said if Black knows what to do he should be able to equalise but it could be a decent surprise weapon! See Ibarra Jerez-Asis Gargatagli for more...

Czech System [B07]

Back in March I annotated a game with Mamedyarov on the Black side of a Czech system (against Hou Yifan) and here he repeats it in Leko - Mamedyarov. After 4...Bg4 Leko chooses the more aggressive 5.h3 (rather than Hou Yifan's Be2) and after 5...Bh5 White has a choice:

Leko played 6.Bd3 and was somewhat better but 6.g4 Bg6 7.Qe2 is also worth a look. I've added in recent developments into the notes.

Pirc - 4.f3 [B07]

As you'll find out in the game I'm not a big fan of 4.f3 - it's rather inflexible and it allows Black the time to choose a sensible setup. In Perez Candelario-Granda Zuniga White erred with 9.a4?! and 11.f4?! and after 12...Nc6 Black had a very good game:

Pirc - 4.Bg5 [B07]

Instead 4.Bg5 is a very dangerous line for Black so Zhigalko - Onischuk offers food for thought. After 4...Bg7 5.Qd2 h6 6.Bh4 Onischuk tries 6...0-0!? Instead of ...g5 (previously annotated in the archives). This leads to interesting play but Black seems to be holding his own. A critical position occurs after 7.0-0-0 c6:

White tries 8.f4 but this may not be best.

Caro-Kann Exchange Variation [B13]

We end with a subscriber question. After 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.c3 Qc7 Praneeth has asked me to investigate 6.f4 which hasn't previously been covered on the site:

The idea is clear: clamp down on the centre, develop quickly and attack on the kingside. In Nielsen - Agrest I try to assess the pros and cons of this line and I suggest a sensible setup for Black to adopt against it.

I'll see you in the New Year, Tom.

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