ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
This month's update is concentrated on the Caro-Kann with several games taken from the recent European Individual Championships.

Download PGN of June '13 1 e4 ... games

>> Previous Update >>

Caro-Kann - Two Knights Variation 3...Nf6!? [B11]

Our first game sees Ding Liren aiming for unbalanced play with 3...Nf6!? against the Two Knights. This is a tricky system but there should be at least a couple of ways for White to get a slight advantage, however 4.e5 Ne4 5.h3 seems overly cautious to me and later White lashes out with 9.g4?! which proved to be more of a weakness than anything else:

It doesn't turn out well for White in Lu Shanglei-Ding Liren but I've outlined some alternative ways of meeting this system in the notes.

Two Knights Variation 3...Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 [B11]

Game 2 features a more mainline Two Knights with 3...Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 Nf6 and now 6.d3 rather than the trendy 6.Be2. This doesn't seem to be as easy to equalise against as I had previously imagined and I'm certainly not convinced by 6...e6 7.Bd2 Bb4 8.a3 Ba5 as after 9.e5!:

Black is forced into a rather uncomfortable endgame.

Caro-Kann Advance - 3...Bf5 4.h4 [B12]

This line remains fashionable and again we see 4...h5 5.c4 e6 6.Nc3. Last month Vitiugov demonstrated a very sensible approach with 6...Ne7 7.Nge2 Nd7 8.Ng3 Bg6 9.cxd5 Nxd5 10.Be2 Qa5! but in Brkic - Zelcic Black instead preferred 6...dxc4. In my opinion it's probably too early to capture on c4 and after 7.Bxc4 Ne7 8.Nge2 Nd5 9.Ng3 Bg6 10.Be2!? Black had some tricky problems to solve:

Black quickly went wrong and should have lost but Zelcic defended stubbornly and managed to pull off an impressive save.

Advance - 3...c5 [B12]

Next we turn our attention to an important line in the 3...c5 Advance. The position after 4.dxc5 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.c3 e6 7.b4 a6 8.Nbd2 Nxe5! has long been considered critical on this site but Fedorchuk - Lupulescu is the first time it's appeared in a main game:

Fedorchuk tries 9.h3! but later fails to obtain any advantage from the opening, however 12.Bd3!, as suggested by Gawain here more than two years ago, still seems like the best way to play for an edge.

Advance - Short Variation [B12]

Game 5 returns to a more mainline Advance with 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 Ne7 6.0-0 c5!? which remains a tough nut to crack at the moment. White can try a number of things here and 7.c4 Nbc6 8.dxc5 d4 9.Qb3 is very interesting, but still Black equalised after the accurate response 9...Qc7!:

The game is well played by both sides and ends in a draw but White definitely needs some new ideas against this line if he wants to prove an advantage.

Instead of 6...c5 our next game sees the solid approach 6...Nd7 7.Nbd2 Bg6. Normally Black prefers 7...h6 and the reason for this is 8.Nh4 is rather tricky to face. Black has a number of options but none are 100% convincing and in the game, after 8...Nf5 9.Nxg6 hxg6 10.Nf3 Be7 11.g3, White had a slight advantage and went on to win a very instructive game:

The problem for Black here is that ...0-0 runs into h4 and a kingside attack but in Nepomniachtchi - Shengelia Black left castling too late and ran into trouble.

Modern/Caro hybrid [B15]

The position after 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c6 4.f4 d5 5.e5 is rich in possibilities for both sides. Both 5...h5 and 5...Nh6 have been covered in depth before and I've added in some recent developments in the Gurgenidze system with 5...h5 but in Szelag - Bartel we see the comparably rare 5...Qb6!?:

Whilst 6.Na4 is an interesting response I can't help feeling that there's not a good enough reason to place the knight on the side of the board here. Instead 6.Nf3 and Be2 both seem like better options for White.

Caro-Kann - Larsen/Bronstein, 5...gxf6 [B16]

Finally we see an unbalanced line of the Classical Caro as Black goes for the tricky 4...Nf6 5.Nxf6 gxf6 line. 6.c3 is by far White's most popular move here and 6.Be2 and 6.Ne2 have also both been analysed in the archives, but in Hess - Stripunsky we see the logical 6.g3 for the first time:

This makes a lot of sense against a rook on the half-open g-file and in the game Black really struggles to find a plan. I'm slightly surprised Black never tried to open the kingside with ...h5 as that would seem the main drawback of 6.g3.

That's all for now - see you next month! Tom.

>> Previous Update >>

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