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Happy New Year - I hope you enjoy this month's update which exclusively features the Caro-Kann!

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

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Caro-Kann - Unusual lines [B10]

Our first game this month features the short but fascinating encounter David, A - Vishnu, P which started 1.c4 c6 2.e4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.cxd5 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nxd5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Bb5 and now the rare 7...g6!?:

After 8.Qb3 Black initiated complications with 8...Nb6. This allows 9.Ne5 which, at first sight, appears very strong, although upon further investigation it's not quite so clear...

Two Knights Variation [B11]

Next we see Black opting for the interesting 4...Bh5 rather than the usual 4...Bxf3 in the Two Knights. This tends to lead to more interesting play which was certainly the case in Fedorchuk,S-Li Wenliang with the critical opening position being reached after 14.Bd2:

Advance - Short Variation [B12]

Iordachescu, V - Swapnil, SD features the critical line 5.Be2 c5 6.Be3 Qb6 7.Nc3 Qb6 which has been seen many times on this site. 8.Bb5 is somewhat unusual and after 8...c4 Black had a reasonable game until White tried the speculative sacrifice 12.b3!?:

It seems with accurate play this shouldn't be anything for White but over-the-board it was too much for Black to handle.

Advance - 3...Bf5 4.Be3 [B12]

Although 4.Be3 can often transpose to lines with Nf3, one independent line arises after 4...Qb6 5.Qc1 e6 6.c4!? the position after 6...Bxb1 7.Rxb1 Bb4+ 8.Kd1 has been seen in the notes before on ChessPub but never in a main game:

White quickly got a strong position in Sanchez, J - Burmakin, V although Black's play can be improved upon at a number of points.

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

Vachier Lagrave has essayed this on a number of occasions and in Vachier Lagrave, M - Akobian, V he tried a new idea after 4...h6 5.g4 Bd7 6.h5 e6:

Unusually he played a developing move here, 7.Nf3 (7.f4 is normal), which leads to interesting play after his opponent responded with the critical 7...c5! Overall 7.Nf3 doesn't convince me, despite the Frenchman winning in this game.

Smyslov System 4...Nd7 [B17]

Next we examine two games in the Smyslov variation.

The first features the critical line 5.Ng5 and then in Narayanan, S - Adly, A Black mixes things up with 5...Ndf6!? which hasn't been covered before. White should be a little better but there's a lot of tension in the position and White quickly ends up in trouble. The position after 16...Qd6! has clearly gone wrong:

and the game doesn't last much longer!

Next we see the quieter 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.c3 which should leave White a little better. However the game Zhou, Y - Sumets, A is a very instructive one for Black players as the promising English junior gets slowly outplayed as White.

Classical 4...Bf5 mainline [B19]

Finally, we end with a mainline Classical Caro - with a slight twist. In Guseinov, G - Parligras, M Black goes for 12...Bd6 rather than the standard ...Be7 (or even ...Qc7) and after 13.Ne4 he retreated back to c7 with the Bishop:

This has the effect of sidestepping a lot of theory and Black's chances seem perfectly OK - certainly Black held a comfortable draw in this game.

Until next month, Tom.

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