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Dear Readers,
This last month was mainly interesting for the Gibraltar and Wijk Aan Zee games, and it is usually like this every year. We have a mixture of both the Caro-Kann and Scandinavian this time, and needless to say the Caro-Kann is still dominant in the sense of the number of games and new ideas in general.

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

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Caro-Kann Advance 3...Bf5 Short System ...Bg6 [B12]

We start with the Advanced line games in the Caro-Kann and here we have lots of ideas:

In Hou Yifan-Navara Wijk An Zee 2016, we saw what used to be the main line where Black has a knight on f5: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 Nd7 6.0-0 Bg6 7.Nbd2 Nh6 8.Nb3 Nf5 9.Bd2 Be7 10.g4

Although Hou Yifan didn't play the most critical line she still got an easy game and a nice initiative. Navara could have played more solidly at one point, but still White's position looks preferable.

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

This time, in Antipov - Nisipeanu Wijk An Zee 2016, we have the 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nd2 move order, and Nisipeanu showed that he didn't want to eventually transpose into normal lines. So after 4...e6 5.Nb3 Nd7 6.Nf3 he tried 6...c5 at once:

This was justified as Black achieved a good position from the opening.

Again, in Svetushkin - Cruz Lledo Roquetas de Mar 2016, we have the following move order 4.Nd2 e6 5.Nb3, but now Black preferred 5...Ne7, the game continuing 6.Nf3 Nc8 7.Be2 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.a4 Nd7 10.a5 a6 11.Ne1:

A sharp game in which White managed to outplay his opponent in the middle game. Still, the game was mostly unclear.

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

Games 4, 5 and 6 involve 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4, a very sharp and popular line.

Sevian - Dreev Wijk An Zee 2016, saw 4...h6 5.g4 Bd7 6.Be3 c5!?, an interesting new idea from an expert:

Although Black won, the game was sharp and White had his chances as well.

After 4...h5 in Ter Sahakyan-Torosyan ARM HL 2016, White opted for the popular idea 5.Bd3, and after 5...Bxd3 6.Qxd3 e6 7.Bg5 Be7 8.Nf3 Nh6 9.Nbd2 Nf5 10.c4:

A very instructive game, but not because of the opening moves, but rather because of the middle game and endgame: it is really important to know the types of positions arising from some opening structures.

Sutovsky - Vitiugov Paul Keres Memorial 2016, was yet another interesting game after 4.h4. Here Black responded with 4...a6 5.Be3 h5:

We have an original position as early as move 5! Black got an easy game, but of course there are plenty of possibilities here.

Scandinavian Defence 2...Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 [B01]

And now games 7 and 8 concern the Scandinavian with 3...Qd6.

In Jones - Kulashko New Zealand 2016, we saw 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 c6 6.Ne5 Nbd7 7.Nc4 Qc7 8.Qf3 Nb6 9.Bf4 Qd7 10.h3:

A pawn sacrifice that I've already analyzed for ChessPublishing in the past, and so has Gawain! I am not sure that White can claim an advantage, as Black was doing ok and at some point and he could have reached a good endgame.

Bosiocic - Jovanovic Croatia 2016, started 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 g6 6.Nb5 Qb6 7.a4:

White won convincingly, but Black simply didn't opt for the best strategical ideas. Still, the line itself is far from clear.

Till next month, best wishes Milos.

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