ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
This update focuses on the Caro-Kann, Advance Variation, although for variety a few other openings feature - namely, the Scandinavian, the Pirc and the Caro-Kann/Modern hybrid as well as other lines in the Caro.

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

>> Previous Update >>

Scandinavian Defence 2...Qxd5 3 Nf3 Bg4 4 Be2 Nc6 5 d4 0-0-0 [B01]

In Heberla, B v Konopka, M, we revisit a line of the Scandinavian analysed quite extensively by Gawain in 2010. The opening begins concretely with 1 e4 d5 2 exd5 Qxd5 3 Nf3 Bg4 4 Be2 Nc6 5 d4 0-0-0 6 c4 Qf5 7 Be3 Bxf3 8 Bxf3 Nxd4 9 Bxd4 Qe6+ 10 Be2 Qe4 11 0-0 Qxd4 12 Qa4 e6 13 Nc3:

In this position, Black’s most popular move 13...Bd6 offers White a slight initiative. Instead, 13...Qb6 is the most accurate, when 14 b4 leads to interesting play. Play is easier for White than Black, but the position is approximately equal.

Pirc Defence: 4 Be3 a6 [B07]

Deviating from Giri’s 1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Nf3 g6 4 Be3 a6 5 Qd2, which we saw last month, Shankland, against the same opponent, in the same tournament, played 5 h3 (Shankland, S - Nepomniachtchi, I ). Instead of the conventional 5...Bg7, Nepomniachtchi plays virtually a novelty with 5...e6!? This offers certain defensive ideas, bolstering the knight’s position on d5, in the event of an e4-e5 push, for example. This was a decent idea, although executed poorly after 6 Bd3 Nbd7?! 7 Nf3 b5?!:

Now, 8 e5! b4 9 Ne4 Nxe4 10 Bxe4 d5 11 Bd3 c5 12 c3 put White firmly in the driving seat.

Caro-Kann Defence with 3...g6 [B15]

Dubious is the line 1 e4 c6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Nf3 g6 4 d4 Bg7 5 h3 Nh6, as played in Kacharava, N - Paichadze, L. White’s most incisive continuation is 6 Bf4 f6 and now either 7 Qd2 with long-castles or 7 exd5 cxd5 8 Nb5 0-0 and now 9 c4! In the game, White played 9 Nc7? when 9...e5 10 Bxh6 Qxc7 put Black on the better side of equality.

Caro-Kann Defence, Advance Short Variation 5...c5 6 Be3 Qb6 [B12]

This update mainly focuses on the sharp line 5...c5 6 Be3 Qb6, when White typically plays 7 Nc3 Nc6 8 0-0:

The position is equal, but Black has to defend well. For example, Saric, I - Dziuba, M continued 8...Qxb2 9 Qe1 cxd4 10 Bxd4 Nxd4 11 Nxd4 Bb4 12 Ndb5 Ba5. Now White sacrificed yet another pawn with 13 Rb1 Qxc2 14 Rc1 Qb2:

Instead of 7 Nc3, White may try 7 c4, as in Maze, S - Solozhenkin, E, when Black took the pawn with 7...Qxb2. Here White has 8 Nbd2 or 8 0-0, as Maze played. The moves should transpose if Black doesn’t fall into White’s trap. In the game, Black went for 8...Nc6?:

Now Maze opens up the centre with 9 cxd5 exd5 10 dxc5! d4 11 Nxd4 0-0 12 Qb3 and White is clearly better. Instead, 8...Ne7 equalises, see my notes for details; also note that 8...Qxa1 fails to 9 Qb3.

Caro-Kann Defence, Advance Variation with 3...Bf5 4 Nf3 e6 5 c3 [B12]

Quite a new idea in the Advance Variation has been to play for a queenside expansion with c2-c3 and b2-b4. Nepomniachtchi, I - Fedoseev, V saw 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 Bf5 4 Nf3 e6 5 c3 h6 6 Be2 Ne7 7 Nbd2. At this point, White is ready to obtain the bind with b2-b4. Fedoseev stops this with 7...a5. After 8 a4 Nd7 9 0-0 10 Ne1 Qb6 11 Nd3, Black already found himself getting squeezed after 11...Bg7?:

Now, 12 Nb3 0-0 13 Nbc5 was clearly better for White, on both (and all) sides of the board!

Caro-Kann Advance Variation with 3...Bf5 4 h4

Last month I covered this variation, which opens with 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 Bf5 4 h4 h5 5 Bd3 Bxd3 6 Qxd3 in Sutovsky, E - Anton Guijarro, D. After 6...Qa5+ 7 Nd2 e6 Nakamura played a move that hasn’t been covered by us yet, namely, 8 Ne2!? One idea is that the knight manoeuvre, Ng8-e7-f5 can often be nullified with Ne2-g3. My analysis shows that Black equalises still, the simplest continuation being 8...c5. The game saw 8...Qa6 9 c4 c5? After which 10 dxc5 Nc6 11 Qc3 dxc4 could have been met with 12 Ne4!:

See my notes to Nakamura, H - Svane, R.

Caro-Kann, Exchange Variation 4 Bd3 Nc6 5 c3 Qc7 6 h3 [B13]

Finally, the surprising blunder in the last round of Gibraltar from Levon Aronian could not be missed. From a theoretical perspective, Black came up with a neat idea. 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 Bd3 Nc6 5 c3 Qc7 6 h3 g6 7 Qc2 and now 7...f6!. A couple of logical moves followed, 8 Ne2 e5 9 0-0 Nge7 10 dxe5 fxe5 at which point Aronian made the inexplicable blunder 11 c4??:

The game was quickly decided after 11...e4 12 Bxe4 dxe4 13 Nbc3 Bg7 (see my notes to Aronian, L - Howell, D).

Till next month, Justin :)

>> Previous Update >>

Please post you queries on the 1 e4 ... Forum, or subscribers can email me at