Download PGN of January '15 1 e4 ... games
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Scandinavian Czebe Variation 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 g6 6.g3 [B01]
Still looking good for Black
The retreat 3...Qd6 has revitalised interest at the highest level in the Scandinavian. The queen is a powerful piece so it's good to keep her on an active centre square. Theory has yet to show White a convincing way to benefit from harassing her with either Nb5 or g2-g3 and Bf4 ideas. Indeed, it can all end in disaster for him as in Alekseenko - Chigaev.
Scandinavian 3.Nc3 Qd8 [B01]
Though more modest than the Czebe, putting the queen all the way back on d8 also has its fans. Annoyingly, theory is starting to get its hands on this variation. A key position is reached after 4.d4 Nf6 5.Bc4 a6 6.Nf3 b5 7.Bb3 c5!? 8.dxc5 Qxd1+ 9.Nxd1:
Black has taken the chance to dismantle the white centre. He is certain to regain his pawn, so White's only chance for advantage will be to inflict a pawn weakness by attacking b5 with a2-a4. Black is very close to equality, but he still needs to play carefully, as you can see in Kryvoruchko - Shyam.
Alekhine's Defence Exchange-5...exd6 [B03]
The power of surprise
A theoretical novelty doesn't need to be stronger than the familiar moves to have a dramatic effect. When players are surprised by a new move or a new approach in a standard position they often go wrong, even if objectively it is nothing special. In this month's game, after 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.exd6 exd6 6.Be2 Be7 7.Nf3:
It is usual for Black to play a quick ...Nc6, say with 7...Bg4 8.0-0 Nc6. Instead Zherebukh avoided the standard ...Nc6 move. The result was that White became confused and made the basic mistake of attacking on the wrong side of the board. Here is Kosintseva - Zherebukh.
Modern 4.f4 a6 [B06]
Strange alchemy turns a Tiger into a Hippopotamus
After 4.f4 a6! is the Tiger Modern. However, one move later with 5.Nf3 e6!? Black decides he wants to play the Hippopotamus:
The question arises: as White has already got in f2-f4, isn't this asking to be crushed by f4-f5 and break through on the f-file? It's by no means that simple as you can see in Cawdery - Adly.
Pirc Defence Austrian Attack 6.e5 dxe5 7.dxe5 [B09]
Sharp play in queenless middlegames
Strong players are keen to avoid the sharp 6...Nfd7 7.h4 line. Here we'll look at two examples of the alternative 6...dxe5, with the continuation 7.dxe5. After 7...Qxd1+ the most popular reply is 8.Kxd1:
White gives up on castling in order to keep the black knight put of the d5 square. This is analysed in Yilmazyerli - Onischuk.
The alternative is 8.Nxd1.This keeps the right to castle, but allows Black's knight the 'Alekhine' square with 8...Nd5:
This is the subject of the exciting draw Onischuk - Petrosian.
Caro-Kann Advance 3.e5 c5 [B12]
Whose pawns are weaker?
Here we'll take a look at the sharp variation 4.c4!? 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.cxd5 Qxd5 7.Nc3 Qa5 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.Bxc6+ bxc6 10.Qxd4 Bxf3 11.gxf3 e6:
The question is whether White can take advantage of his slight lead in development and Black's split pawns on the queenside. The looseness of his own kingside pawns makes this problematical. We get some answers in Chigaev - Bernadskij.
Caro-Kann Classical 4...Bf5 mainline 7...e6 8.Ne5 [B19]
Great play by Navara
Here we'll zoom down the mainline with 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 e6 8.Ne5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 Nd7 11.f4 Bb4+ 12.c3 and take another look at 12...Bd6!?:
This is an interesting alternative to the usual 12....Be7.
David Navara was on his way to a big plus score in the Tata Steel 'B' tournament when he played the featured game. And no wonder when he is armed with deep preparation, subtle positional moves and tactical alertness of the kind he shows in Klein - Navara.
That's all for now. I hope you enjoyed the updated and learnt a couple of useful things.
Best Wishes, Neil.
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