ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
As part of my travels, I found myself in my old hometown of Singapore, where I played two thrilling and very combative Caro-Kann games. These are both included in the present update, as well as what I consider to be quite an instructive Pirc game.

Download PGN of June ’22 1 e4 ... games

>> Previous Update >>

Pirc Defence, Austrian Attack with 5.Bd3 0-0 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.e5 [B09]

This first game is mostly about move-order subtleties rather than jaw-dropping novelties. Play began with 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.f4 Nf6 and now rather than the nearly-automatic 5.Nf3, we take a look at 5.Bd3 which is an attempt to avoid 5...c5 lines (those have been analysed out nearly to a draw in many cases.) 5...0-0 (5...Nc6!? is worth considering) 6.Nf3 Nc6:

7.e5 was played in Aryan, C - Sethuraman, S; while after the popular 7.0-0 I spent some energy recently thinking how White can react to 7...e5 8.d5 Ne7.

Caro-Kann Defence, Endgame Offer with 3...g6 4.exd5 cxd5 5.d4 [B10]

I am quite a big fan of the 1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.d3 ‘Endgame Offer’ variation, and have made no secret of the fact that for Black I think 3...dxe4 is the only real equaliser. Instead, our game saw 3...g6 when the World Champion decided to demonstrate what seems like the simplest path to an advantage: just 4.exd5 cxd5 5.d4:

It seems that the extra ...g6 (compared to the Exchange) is not necessarily beneficial to Black, and certainly in the line 1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.d4, 4...g6 is not one of the critical continuations. An amusing and rather nuanced approach to this topical line! See Carlsen, M - Duda, J.

Caro-Kann Defence, Endgame Offer with 3...Bg4 4.h3 Bh5 5.Qe2 [B10]

The next game is best checked together with Pichot-Firouzja from the June 2021 update. The same position was reached after 1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.d3 Bg4 4.h3 Bh5 5.Qe2 (I prefer 5.g4) 5...e6 6.g4 Bg6 7.h4 h5 8.Ne5 Bh7 9.g5:

White’s e5-knight is quite menacing and can’t very well be left in situ while generating possibilities like g6 and Nxf7. The aforementioned game continued with 9...Bd6 and a piece sacrifice on f7, while this month’s game Lei, T - Anton Guijarro, D continued with 9...Nd7 10.Nxf7; interestingly, in this case I am not so convinced the sacrifice is how White should continue.

Caro-Kann Defence, Two Knights Variation with 3...Bg4 and 6.g3 [B11]

Yes, I know. We have seen an awful lot of this and surely it would be best off rested for a few months. But my attention was sustained by the game Hector, J - Heberla, B, which is almost a masterclass from the Black side. Taking off my pure theoretician hat for a couple of seconds, I think it’s also very important to occasionally see model games in one’s openings (for both sides), and it so happens that a rating gap of around 150 points often leads to some of the most instructive ones. In this game, 9...Ne5 equalised for Black:

Then, over the next few moves the knight was cemented on that square, with White functionally unable to play either d4 or f4. Eventually, White managed to trade it off but only at substantial structural cost. A brief reminder that 8.e5! is the way to deal with this particular setup from Black.

Caro-Kann Defence, Two Knights Variation with 3...dxe4 and 6...Be6 [B11]

Next up, an absolute slugfest from yours truly. I am not such a fan of the 1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Qe2 Nxe4 6.Qxe4 Be6 system, but it does have its points and so I took it for a spin. After 7.b3 Nd7 I find James’ choice of 8.Bb2 to be most critical:

It is not so clear what Black can do with the e6-bishop, given that x-rays towards g2 are less effective as long as White’s f1-bishop stays at home. In the game, it went back after 8...Qa5 9.Nd4 Nf6 10.Qe3 with 10...Bd7, but some practical problems remain for Black, as well as potential issues such as 9.Bc4. This is altogether more worrying than the 8.Bc4 stuff. See Morris, J - Fernandez, D.

Caro-Kann Defence, Advance Variation with 3...Bf5 4.h4 h5 5.c4 e6 6.Nc3 [B12]

One of the minor Advance lines that sometimes doesn’t get enough attention is 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4 h5 5.c4 e6 6.Nc3, which was played in my second streetfight from the Singapore tournament. After 6...Ne7 7.Nge2 I committed a typical (but, I feel, understandable) mistake with 7...a6, a push which is generically useful in such variations but here doesn’t quite get enough done.

White spent the next few moves preparing a central break of some sort, which eventually materialised in 14.d5 and more or less obliged me to ditch some material. Along the turbulent and troubled path to an eventual win, I found myself with the rather unusual material imbalance of rook for five pawns in Gong, Q - Fernandez, D.

Caro-Kann Defence, Advance Variation with 3...c5 4.dxc5 Nc6 5.Bb5 e6 6.Be3 Nge7 [B12]

It is worth remembering that the antidote to 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.dxc5 Nc6 is in fact 5.f4 rather than 5.Bb5, even if the latter does give some chances of an advantage. However, after 5...e6 6.Be3 Nge7 it is more or less indispensable to play 7.c3 and set up a dark-square pawn wall. Modern practice has slightly altered the details of that 7.c3 line, but not the evaluation. Instead 7.Nf3 was played:

A solid piece of outplaying then ensued, with White’s near-blockade on e2 being thwarted at every stage and Black enjoying a better structure in the pure major-piece position that arose after 20 moves. Then some rook endgame technique rounded off a highly creditable performance in Martinez, L - Quesada, Y.

Caro-Kann Defence, Classical Variation with 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.Bd3 [B19]

We continue investigating the topical omission of 8.h5 in the classical line. Apart from giving White the h5-square for the knight in future, a number of other small concrete differences crop up from time to time and this game is no exception. Picking up the action after 8.Bd3 Bxd3 9.Qxd3 e6 10.Bf4 Ngf6 11.0-0-0 Be7:

We checked 12.Nf1 in Aronian-Firouzja, Norway Chess 2020. Instead 12.Kb1 seems much more useful and poses Black some serious questions, which the creative Swedish grandmaster chose to answer with 12...a5 in Donchenko, A - Hillarp Persson, T. As given in the analysis, I believe that 12...0-0 13.Ne4 Qa5 should be equalising but not particularly easily, and in many cases the h-pawn having held back gives greater force to the eventual g4-g5 lever.

All the best, Daniel

>> Previous Update >>

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