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This month I'm looking at recent games in the Centre Counter, Modern and the Caro-Kann.

Download PGN of February '13 1 e4 ... games

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Scandinavian 3...Qa5 [B01]

We start with this month with the World Champion Anand taking on the Centre Counter and he chooses 4.d4 Nf6 5.Bd2!? and after 5...Bg4 6.f3 Black opts for the safer retreat 6...Bd7, rather than ...Bh5 which has been analysed on this site before. White doesn't get much of an edge in Anand - Van Wely with 9.Bb3 but he wins an instructive game anyway!

I've given a few other options for both sides in the notes.

3...Qd6 [B01]

This is now more topical at the top level than ...Qa5 and we have another 3 games in the line this month.

Haslinger - Kjartansson features the rather unfashionable (for Black) 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 a6 which used to be the mainline but recent results have been good for White. Black tries a new idea with 9...e6!?:

I'm not convinced it solves his problems although in the game he ends up with good chances before a blunder at the end spoils it all.

If you're looking for a non-theoretical approach against 3...Qd6 then possibly Luther - Hera is the game for you. After 4.d4 Nf6 White opts for 5.Be3!? with the plan of Qd2, Bd3 and perhaps a quick 0-0-0, although in the game neither side gets to castle! Still, the line looks dangerous, and after 13.Nge2 it was clear that White had a good position:

Our last Centre Counter encounter features the more common 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 g6 which has become Black's mainline in recent months. In Pruijssers - Tiviakov White chooses the quiet 6.Be2 but it's still not easy for Black to equalise here - I've also covered recent developments in 6.Nb5 in the notes with the game Grandelius-Tiviakov.

Modern Defence - 4 f4 a6 [B06]

Kanep - Iturrizaga features a critical line in the Modern defence. After 4.f4 a6 5.Nf3 b5 6.Bd3 Bb7 White chooses 7.0-0 although I've added my thoughts to John Watson's in the notes on the interesting 7.e5. Black comes out of the opening well but I think there is plenty of room for improvement in White's play with 12.e6 an especially interesting option:

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

Caruana-L'Ami debated an interesting line after 4...h6 5.g4 Bd7 6.h5 e6 7.f4 c5 8.c3 and now Black tried 8...Qb6 9.Nf3 Bb5!? (9...Nc6 transposes to the mainline):

After some inaccuracies from both sides Caruana came out of the opening with an excellent position and won a nice game. Black should try to keep the queens on in this line as otherwise it's tough to gain counterplay.

Panov Attack - 5...Nc6 6.Bf4 [B13]

6.Bf4 is a rare move that's only been seen once before on ChessPub, but it's a dangerous line if you're not well prepared. In Matsuura - Lenderman Black plays the critical 6...g6 7.Nb5 e5!:

He equalises easily and goes on to win an instructive endgame.

Classical 4...Bf5 [B18]

We finish with Erwin L'Ami trying a new move against the World Number 1 and equalising. Still this isn't enough to stop the Carlsen show, and he goes on to grind out another win! Clearly, the idea of 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Bc4 e6 7.N1e2 b5!? deserves serious attention:

See Carlsen-L'Ami.

Until next month, Tom.

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