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Welcome back! Curiously I've had the Alekhine Four Pawns Attack three times in my last four 1.e4 games all played this month. I've investigated these and then focused on developments in the ever-expanding Caro-Kann; in particular a few dangerous but probably unsound White tries.

Download PGN of March '11 1 e4 ... games

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Alekhine's Defence - Four Pawns Attack [B03]

In the Bunratty Masters in Ireland I faced the Alekhine twice. Nigel Short surprised me with 1...Nf6 and I decided to try out the Four Pawns. The game followed analysis I have featured on this site already until he played 13...Nd7:

However I don't think this changes the evaluation that White has the better chances, see Jones - Short. I have also included my recent game from the Reykjavik Open in the notes.

Ireland's only Grandmaster Alex Baburin always plays the Alekhine and so it wasn't a surprise that I found myself on the White side of the Four Pawns again in the last round (Jones - Baburin). Alex played the sideline 5...Bf5 but I managed to keep an advantage. Black's decisive error came when he played 14...Qe8?:

Can you spot my strong continuation?

Modern 3...d5 [B06]

To be honest I'm not sure what this opening is called and I'm not at home to check. However 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d5!? has been played a few times recently:

and I have checked the theoretical status of the line in Van Haastert-Martens.

Caro-Kann - 2.Nc3 d5 3.Qe2!? [B11]

Zvjaginsev - Lenic saw the imaginative Russian again going his own way with 1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Qe2!? Of course this shouldn't really gain White an advantage but the strong Grandmaster playing Black couldn't cope with the creative play and after 6.g4!:

White definitely had the upper hand.

Fantasy Variation 3.f3 [B12]

The Fantasy Variation continues to be topical. Bauer - Alonso Rosell followed the main line of the 3...g6 variation until he tried the pawn sacrifice 8.Bd3!?:

Objectively I don't believe Black should have any problems here but he certainly has to be careful and in the game White's attack crashed through.

Advanced Caro-Kann - Short Variation [B12]

Strong players continue to essay an early ...c5 against the Short Variation. Kosteniuk - Kacheishvili saw the line 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 c5 6.Be3 Qb6 7.c4 which I said I needed to check. The game followed the critical line when Black's 11...Rd8!:

gave him a very healthy position.

Motylev - Alsina Leal followed Gashimov-Ivanchuk from last month until Black deviated with 9...c4:

I had investigated this briefly last year but have added in new ideas here, and Black drew very easily with his illustrious opponent.

Classical Caro-Kann [B19]

In the last game of this update I investigate the 4...Bf5 Classical.

In Lu Yijie-Nguyen Van Huy Black played 7...Nf6 which hasn't been very popular recently. White tried to destroy his opponent's opening choice with very direct play.

In the above position White tried 11.Nxf7!? and eventually triumphed. Objectively I believe Black was doing well but it certainly forced him to face some practical problems.

That's all for this month and I hope you enjoy looking over the games. Next month I promise to have a greater look at some Pirc and Modern games which have been neglected a little in the last few months.

Good luck in your own games! Gawain

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