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Dear Readers,
This month lots of Caro-Kann games and one Pirc found there way into this update. As I pointed out many times the Caro-Kann is becoming one of the three most popular choices against 1.e4, together with the Ruy Lopez and the Sicilian. And this is not without good reason: the positions that arise are highly interesting and Black enjoys a variety of means to gain counterplay.

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

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Before we start I will make a small intro to help readers follow the update more easily: From games 1-4 we have the Caro-Kann Advance, in games 5&6 the Classical Capablanca line, in game 7 there is the Panov Attack, and in game 8 the Pirc Defense Austrian Attack line.

Caro-Kann Advance 3.e5 c5 4.dxc5 Nc6 [B12]

Game 1 & 2 shows the sharp Advanced Caro-Kann line with 3...c5 that Russian Grandmaster Motylev twice played recently. After 4.dxc5 in both games Motylev tried 4...Nc6:

In Tukhaev - Motylev from the Russian Cup Final, White opted for 5.a3!?, a rather interesting choice:

which leads to fascinating positions where it seems that Black has counterplay.

In Game 2, Onischuk - Motylev from Al Ain 2015, we have 5.Nf3 Bg4:

Yet another sharp idea, and this time White had better play. However, Black could do better by using a slightly different move order, as suggested in my comments.

In any case Motylev's idea to play 4...Nc6 instead of the more popular 4...e6 is not unreasonable as we reach some positions worthy of consideration.

Caro-Kann Advance 3...Bf5 Short System 8...Bg6 [B12]

The Caro-Kann Advance line seen in the game Wang Hao-Lalith Al Ain 2015, featured 3...Bf5. After the further 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 Ne7 6.0-0 h6 7.Nbd2 Nd7 8.Nb3 Bg6 we have:

The idea is again to have a knight on f5, but this time with a pawn on h6 instead of a bishop on e7. There are some important nuances here and the line itself is worth another look.

Caro-Kann Advance 3...Bf5 Short System 5...Bg6 6.0-0 Ne7 7.Nbd2 c5 [B12]

Another Advanced Caro-Kann line was seen in Ortiz Suares-Dreev Carlos Torre Mem 2015, 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 Bg6 6.0-0 Ne7 7.Nbd2 c5:

A line that I analyzed previously and which already gains popularity. We will closely follow developments here because it seems that so far Black's chances look good.

Caro-Kann Classical 4...Bf5 mainline 12...Bd6 [B19]

The next two games represent two different approaches in the Classical Capablanca line of the Caro Kann which are both popular nowadays.

After the same initial moves 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3:

In game 5 Mista - Najer Cze League 2015, we saw the popular line that I started to follow last month, 7...Nd7 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 e6 11.Bd2 Ngf6 12.0-0-0 Bd6!?:

As I said last month, this line is really catching on and has started to become an important asset for Black.

Caro-Kann Classical 4...Bf5 mainline 7...e6 8.Ne5 [B19]

Wei Yi-Basso from the Qatar Masters 2015, featured the more modern approach from Black: 7...e6 8.Ne5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 Nd7 11.f4 c5

However, the young Chinese GM found a nice antidote, and it seems that Black is facing another problem to solve.

Panov Attack 5...g6 6.Qb3 [B14]

Naiditsch - Burmakin Zurich open 2015, was a Panov Attack, and after 1.e4 c6 2.d5 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 the famous gambit line that still has its followers, 5...g6. Following 6.Qb3 Bg7 7.cxd5 0-0 8. Nge2 Na6 9.g3 we have:

It seems that White had the easier play all the way, although at some point Black was able to neutralize White's pressure. However, I am still more inclined to believe that White has the better chances.

Pirc Defence Austrian Attack 5...0-0 6.e5 [B09]

The final game is a Pirc Defense, and probably the best line against it, the Austrian Attack, as seen in Efimenko - Zubarev Ukraine Ch 2015. After 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 0-0 6. e5 Nfd7 White played 7.Bc4:

I also analyzed some other aspects of this position but overall I really do prefer White's chances.

Till next month, Milos.

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