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Hello everybody,
This month I will focus on how Black should handle some of the lesser played options in the Caro-Kann. As well as a useful system against the Modern, popularised in faster time controls, and more.

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

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Alekhine's Defence 4.Nf3 Bg4 [B05]

Navara, D - Rapport, R is one of the main lines in the Alekhine's, with Navara inserting an early h3 and 11.cxd5 being a new option to this site.

In the game, White opted for piece play and got some steady pressure before blundering. However, I suggest White should use his pawn majority, by playing a quick 14.f4 in conjunction with queenside play, before Black can establish a firm blockade of his pawns.

Modern Defence: 3.Nf3 d6 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.Qe2 0-0 [B06]

Amonatov, F - Andreikin, D is a model game for showing how White should handle his pieces in this Qe2 system.

After 8...Nb6 White got a very comfortable game. Black should consider other options such as 8...Be6 or look for other deviations earlier. Still, this system is easy to play and can easily transpose to unpleasant variations of the Alekhine's Defense if Black is unaware. No wonder it is becoming more and more popular in faster time controls.

Caro-Kann: Panov Attack 5.Qa4+ Nbd7 6.Nc3 g6 [B11]

Zhigalko, A - Hovhannisyan, R shows how Black should handle White's system with 5.Qa4+ and 8.Bc4.

After his last move, 12...Qc5, White finds it very difficult to finish development. In the game he chose a very creative method starting with 13.h3 Bc8 14.Ke2!?, meeting 14...Nh5 with 15.Kf3!?. Through the complications and likely time scramble, Zhigalko even managed to survive and go on to win. However, with accurate play, Black was well and truly on top. Now it is not up to White to prove he has something to play for in this line.

Caro-Kann: Two Knights Variation 3...Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 [B11]

This month features two games in our Two Knights system. Since Black was doing quite well in the d4 lines, I started to consider other systems such as the older d3 and Bd2 lines to get an advantage.

Kovalev, V - Toorosyan, N examines the set-up where Black goes for ...g6 and ...Ne7 against our chosen formation.

It is surprisingly difficult for Black to get counter play in this line and he can often find the dark-squared bishop being shut out of the game. I don't think there is anything here for Black and he should consider the main lines as played in the next game.

Lu Shanglei - Andriekin, D is the mainline of our Bd2 and 0-0-0 setup for White. Lu Shanglei improved on his previous game against Wang Yue with 10.0-0-0 and shows just how dangerous this straightforward approach can be:

Black went for the natural move ...d4 and ...c5 in the game, however; White could have gained a big advantage by getting the knight into the game earlier with Na3. In the game he was unable to do so but still finished on top after the complications. Black should also consider an early ...Qc7 when Qg3 is not possible in many variations.

Caro-Kann Advance, Short Variation 8.Na3 Qc7 [B12]

Osmak, I - Houska, J features the idea of 8...Qc7 in response to 8.Na3 which is not common:

This Na3 move is specifically played to stop the ...Qc7 with ...g5 pawn setup. I think there are better options for Black to equalise but this did lead to an interesting middlegame struggle.

Caro-Kann Exchange 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.c3 Qc7 6.Ne2 Ng4 [B13]

Kokarev, D - Riazantsev, A gives a simple remedy to the Bd3 exchange variation when White tries for a tiny edge.

Black's position is very solid. He should have no problems equalising with a few accurate moves and active play in the centre.

Caro-Kann Panov Attack 6.Bg5 Be6 7.a3 Qd7 8.Be2 [B13]

Amin, B - Yakubboev, N is another example of how dangerous the White attack can be if Black does not respond accurately to 8.Be2.

Black should look to consider 8...Rd8! as an improvement. After the 8...0-0-0 played in the game, White is able to immediately close the centre and generate a dangerous queenside attack before any counter play can ever be generated.

Catch you next time, Moulthun

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