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Hello everybody,
The match between Wei Yi and Richard Rapport inspires this month’s main focus. We will be looking at some interesting ways for Black to steer the game into more unfamiliar terrain in the Modern Defence. Along with other games that cover lines we have not yet examined, this was definitely a useful month of updates.

Download PGN of January ’17 1 e4 ... games

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Alekhine’s Defence: 4.Nf3 dxe5 5.Nxe5 Nd7?! [B04]

Saric, Iv - Gaslik, P is a line in the Alekhine’s I’ve always been curious about and wondered if it truly led to an equal position since so many short draws have been seen between strong GM’s here.

Black invites a knight sacrifice and White should happily accept it since the resulting positions are so dangerous for Black. Perhaps there are a few ways for him to escape but he needs to play exact/only moves and navigate through a maze of possible disasters. The game highlights exactly how quickly things end when you make a serious inaccuracy here, especially in faster time controls.

Pirc Defence: 4.Bg5 Nf6 5.Qd2 c6 6.0-0-0 b5 [B07]

Motylev, A - Andriasian, Z features an aggressive setup by White against the Modern Defense. The positions should lead to unclear complications but I think it is fine for both sides:

Andriasian played the typical attacking moves for Black in this line and soon found himself with a great position. Motylev had one chance to keep the game in murky waters but instead made a serious mistake, which ended the game.

Modern Defence: 3.Nc3 a6 4.f4 d5!? [B06]

Wei Yi - Rapport R saw a useful idea to add to our Modern repertoire targeting players who play the Austrian Attack. That is to delay pushing the ...d-pawn and first wait with ...a6 possibly saving a move down the track.

After trading d-pawns, Black gets some open lines and simplifies the situation in the centre. White can keep queens on and head towards an unclear position or swap them off. Wei Yi chooses to swap but found it difficult to prove a real edge. Richard got a fine position from the opening but a mistake gave his opponent a chance to get a substantial advantage. Instead Wei Yi missed his opportunity and allowed a nice piece sacrifice leading to exciting complications with Black eventually coming out on top.

Modern Defense: 3.Nc3 d6 4.f4 Nf6 5.Nf3 c5 6.Bb5 Nc6!? [B09]

In Wei Yi - Rapport R 6...Nc6!? is a real surprising move since 6...Bd7 is the well-known mainline. Rapport again uses the element of surprise and even though it may not be objectively sound, it can be dangerous if one comes unprepared against such a move:

Wei Yi chose a harmless line against Black’s system and quickly found himself on the back foot almost the entire game.

Caro-Kann, King's Indian Attack 3.Nd2 e5 4.Ngf3 Bd6 5.d4 [B10]

Smirin, I - Gunina, V features quite a popular line but one which has surprisingly not yet been featured on ChessPublishing:

Black has many ways to get a good position against this line depending on his situation. Here I will present you with a few of the most useful ones to use in practise.

Caro Kann Advance Short Variation: 5.Be2 Ne7 6.0-0 c5 7.c3 Nec6 8.a3 [B12]

Inarkiev, E - Zeng, C features a line in the Advanced Caro which has been seen a number of times recently by strong players:

In the game Zeng played 8...c4, which is okay if Black plays the correct setup and remains balanced. Instead, he chose the wrong square for his bishop and allowed White to break through very quickly. Although I believe 8...Nd7 to be Black’s best try and I suggest a good way for White to meet this also.

Caro-Kann Advance: 3.e5 c5 4.dxc5 Nc6 5.a3 Nxe5 6.Bb5+ [B12]

Oleksiyenko, M - Moiseenko, A, is another game in our chosen line against the 3...c5 variation of the Advanced Caro which continues to score well for White.

Black tried this new move of 7...Qc7, but once against didn’t manage to fully equalise. White got an excellent position and remained a whole pawn up from the opening for the entire game. Instead, he should try to break up the White queenside pawns as soon as he can with a well-timed ...b6 break. However, this is easier said than done and more practical tests are needed for Black to come up with an ideal setup against this system.

Caro-Kann: Korchnoi's line 4...Nf6 5.Nxf6+ exf6 6.c3 Bf5!? [B15]

Wei Yi - Rapport, R demonstrates a solid system for Black in the Caro-Kann to play for equalization:

This move is not seen that often but I believe it is better than 6...Bd6 since a few extra pieces will be traded off. The game even saw the queens come off early but this only made Black’s life easier and already he was thinking about playing for more.

Till next time, Moulthun

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