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Hello everybody,
This month’s focus is on the 4.h4 h5 variation of the Advance Caro-Kann. We will learn how to respond to each of White’s different setups and get a playable position for Black. Along with several other exciting games.

Download PGN of December ’16 1 e4 ... games

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Alekhine’s Defence Exchange 5.exd6 cxd6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Be3 Bg7 8.Rc1 0-0 9.b3 Bf5 10.Nf3 [B03]

Sagafos, M - Varga, Z is the mainline of our 9...Bf5 variation I have suggested in my previous columns. We have looked at several lines already but not the main move 10.Nf3. Here Black provides a model game of how to play the system.

Previously players have opted for 14...a6 here, but Varga develops a plan around the immediate capture 14...Bxf3 to cut down White’s options. He continued with the typical plan and White soon found himself in a much worse situation.

Alekhine’s Defence: 4.Nf3 dxe5 5.Nxe5 c6 6.Be2 Bf5 7.0-0 Nd7 8.Nf3 e6 9.c4 N5f6 10.Nc3 Ne4 11.Qb3 [B04]

Wang Hao - Markus, R is another game from Markus in this system of the Alekhine’s. This time scoring a big victory with the Black pieces after his opponent started to over-extend in a balanced position.

Wang Hao managed to get a great looking position early on but never quite found a way to break the Black defences. Even though Black went on to win, I believe White enjoyed the better position for most of the game. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with Black’s previous 13...Be4 move as played against Wei Yi and he should explore that further.

Modern Defence: 4.Be3 a6 5.h4 h6 [B06]

Areshchenko, A - Graf, A saw White play a 150 attack against the Modern Defence, which in my view is one of the most dangerous to meet in practise.

Black chose a Hippo setup for his pieces but I don’t think this is correct. White got easy play and was never under any danger. Black should instead find a different piece formation, perhaps with the inclusion of ...Nd7-b6, ...Nf6-d7 followed by ...b4 and ...c5 giving more counter play than Black managed in the game.

Caro-Kann Advance Short Variation 5.Be2 Ne7 6.0-0 Nd7 7.Nbd2 h6 8.c3 Bg6 9.a4 [B12]

Volokitin, And - Vedmediuc, S features a relatively new system, only employed by White once before in a game with Svidler playing the White pieces, earlier this year.

Volokitin enjoyed a space advantage on both sides of the board before a crucial error by Black (17...h5) got his queen trapped. A typical theme encountered in many similar positions.

Caro-Kann Advance 4.h4 h5 5.Bd3 Bxd3 6.Qxd3 e6 [B12]

Here we look at three different games from this position. Each one White tries out a different plan and we will see which proves to be most effective:

Karthikeyan, M - Ravi, TeS features a less popular move than 7.Bg5 and we attempt to find out why this is so. In the game, Black did nothing to stop White’s idea and soon found himself in a lot of trouble.

Black played a few slow moves and found it impossible to fully develop his pieces effectively. A final queen switch by White at the end finished off a well-played game.

Sutovsky, E - David, Alberto featured a simple but effective plan by White. The immediate capture of the knight on ...h6 cuts down Black’s options while letting White play a relatively risk-free position.

Black should be okay with correct play but the resulting positions are interesting to play for both sides. In the game Black found his pieces misplaced and was unable to bring them into use at any point.

Brkic, A - Dragnev, Valentin is one of the main lines for this variation where White tries for Ne2 to f4 right away. Against this, Black must disrupt his intentions by attacking the centre as soon as be can with a quick ...c5.

In the game Black managed a quick ...c5 on move ten, breaking up the White centre. He temporarily sacrificed the pawn before breaking up the white pawn chain again with ...b6, fully equalising. However, a blunder in the game should have put it out of reach. Instead, Black fought back into a very interesting endgame, which was later drawn.

Caro-Kann Classical: 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 e6 8.Ne5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 Nd7 11.f4 Be7 12.Nh5 [B19]

Ragger, M - Villegas, P was an exciting game where Black allowed a piece sacrifice, which White happily went for.

It is surprising that this move is not played as often as 12.Bd2, which lead to a whole bunch of drawn positions. This often leads to some very unclear positions but where I don’t think White is worse at all. From a practical point of view, many of the positions are easier to play for White as the game continuation showed.

Till next time, Moulthun

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