ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Welcome to this month's update. If the openings in the 1.e4 Others section have a common theme, it is to provoke White into overextending himself. Once his position loses its compactness his pawns cease to be attacking weapons and become targets. The most extreme example is in the Alekhine with its audacious first move, but in the Caro-Kann as well Black is trying to cajole White into loosening his pawn front. And a special tip for Caro-Kann players: study rook and pawn endgames. They probably occur more in your opening than any other!
Let's get down to business, starting with 1.e4 d5.

Download PGN of July '14 1 e4 ... games

>> Previous Update >>

Scandinavian 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Bd2 [B01]

A tricky but unsound idea for Black

The retreat 5...Qb6 seems logical as it gets the queen out the way of a future discovered attack and eyes the white pawn left undefended on d4:

Simple development won't be enough for White to keep the advantage. In the game given here he rises to the occasion, sacrificing a pawn and being prepared to offer a piece if necessary. However, as you will see in the notes an energetic, but risk free approach was also possible for White. Therefore I can't recommend this for Black except as a surprise weapon, but you need to know what you're doing as White. You can also find a nice miniature win by Magnus Carlsen in the comments to Tari - Smerdon.

Alekhine's Defence 4.Nf3 Nc6 [B04]

A bold knight move and a complex pawn sacrifice

Here we'll take a look at 4...Nc6!? 5.c4 Nb6 6.e6!? fxe6:

This pawn offer is the critical response to the provocative knight move. Black's bishop on c8 is blocked from going to f5 or g4, his kingside has been undermined (and will become the target of an h4-h5 onslaught once he plays g7-g6) and his queen is boxed in. On the other hand it will only take three moves for Black to arrange ...g7-g6, ...Bg7 and ...e6-e5 to activate his pieces.

Therefore time is of the essence, and in the selected game Khalifman saves a vital move for his kingside action with 7.Be3!? delaying the development of his knight on b1. Why this is so important is explained in Khalifman - Nosenko.

Modern Defence 150 Attack 4.Be3 a6 [B06]

Black wins in refined hypermodern style

This month's game reminds me of GM Raymond Keene's pioneering wins in the Pirc/Modern set up back in the 1970s. If White is unsure what he is doing he can make a couple of natural but ill-judged pawn moves and suddenly find he is in trouble. Here for example at first glance it seems like he is gaining space and laying the foundation for an attack with 5.f3 Nd7 6.g4 b5 7.h4:

In fact, White is making his attack less, not more, likely to succeed! The full story is in Sapozhnikov - Nagle.

Pirc Defence 150 Attack 4.Be3 a6 [B07]

Black is crushed in sophisticated cave-man style

Whereas White's kingside pawn advances led him into trouble in the game above, in our next example they are part of a well-considered strategic plan. An interesting position was reached after 5.f3 b5 6.Qd2 Bb7 7.0-0-0 Nbd7 8.g4 Nb6:

Here Naiditsch decided to evacuate all his minor pieces, including the bishop on f8, from the kingside. He put his trust in the centralisation of his pieces and his counterplay on the queenside. When you're playing a chess genius like Morozevich things can easily go wrong, but I think the German SuperGM's opening idea is not at all bad. Have a look for yourself at the analysis to Morozevich - Naiditsch.

Pirc Austrian Attack 4.f4 Nf6 5.Nf3 c5 [B09]

The honest attacking move 6.e5 and the insidious 6.Bb5+

A key position is reached after 6.e5 Nfd7 7.exd6:

I like Black's counterchances after 7...0-0 8.Be3 exd6 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.0-0-0 Qa5. His centre may look somewhat fragile, but White can suffer a disaster if he loses control. The alternative for Black is the double edged 7...cxd4!? which amounts to an exchange sacrifice after 8.Nb5 0-0 9.Nc7. He might be OK here, but it feels like he is chasing compensation for the material rather than playing to win. See what you think after looking at the analysis in Vibbert - Nagle.

The subject of our next game is 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.Bxd7+ Nfxd7 8.d5. This appears to be a quieter than 6.e5. However, it is a surprisingly dangerous variation for Black, who can find himself facing a big attack very quickly. I believe he should enter the sharp variation 8...b5 which I've looked at in some detail:

Strangely enough I couldn't find a top level game played in 2014 with 8...b5. In the selected game Black chose 8...0-0 and won in nice style after some overly cautious play by White. But please check the notes before you decide to follow Strugnell - Mortazavi.

Pirc Austrian Attack 5.Nf3 0-0 6.e5 [B09]

A sharp line much analysed on ChessPub

Our final game in the Austrian reconsiders a key moment in the crazily complex variation 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.e5 Nfd7 7.h4 c5 8.h5:

It has been analysed in depth by John Watson and Milos Pavlovic and Andrew Martin on ChessPub. Previously White seemed to be in a very bad way in a critical line, but perhaps the attack lives after all. Check out the details in Martinez Ramirez-Narciso Dublan.

Caro-Kann Classical 4...Bf5 mainline 7...Nf6 8.h5, 14.Ne4 Nc6 [B19]

A refreshing new trend that has won Black a lot of games

A popular approach for Black to delay the development of his queen's knight in order to facilitate a quick attack on White's centre with c6-c5. A common sequence is 4...Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 e6 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 Nf6 11.Bd2 Be7 12.0-0-0 0-0 13.Kb1 c5:

Here White had some successes with 14.Ne4, putting pressure on the c5 pawn, but Black has realised he can ignore the threat to the pawn with 14....Nc6!:

The results have been very encouraging for Black. First of all we investigate 15.Bc3 and 15.Be3, bolstering the d4 pawn. The young Chinese player Ding Liren is an exceptional talent and he grinds White down in a 119 moves in Yu Yangy-Ding Liren.

So what happens if White captures on c5? That is the subject of our final game. It turns out that he can't hold onto his extra pawn and is in danger of being ground down if he is careless. Savour the technique of a top Russian Grandmaster in Nakar - Dreev.

Well that's all for this month. I hope you found some useful ideas. Good luck with your chess!

Best Wishes, Neil.

>> Previous Update >>

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