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I've just finished watching round one of the Candidates tournament in London and sadly there were no 1.e4 games at all today - let's hope that changes as the tournament progresses.
This month I have looked mostly at more unusual lines and also I've tried to plug any gaps in Chesspub's pretty extensive coverage!

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

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Scandinavian 3...Qa5 [B01]

We begin this month with a look at the rare 4.d4 Nf6 5.Bc4 Nc6!? White has a couple of options here but the critical 6.d5 Nb4 7.a3 c6 is examined in Hernandez Carmenates-Almeida Quintana:

, along with other key variations.

Next, we follow on from last month's Anand-Van Wely game to take another look at 4.d4 Nf6 5.Bd2 Bg4 6.f3, but in Stevic - Kovacevic Black retreats the bishop back to f5 rather than d7. White responds aggressively with 7.g4 and is rewarded with a good ending after 10.c4:

3.Nf3 [B01]

Our final Scandinavian this month features 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.Be2 Nc6 and now White plays the surprisingly rare 5.0-0 keeping his options open. After 5...0-0-0 6.Re1 the players have reached a position that's only been seen a handful of times before:

However, in Zhigalko - Sharif White shows the position is not an easy one for Black to play.

Alekhine's Defence 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Bc4 [B03]

I looked at this line back in December but in Amin - Giri I get a chance to examine 5.Bb3 dxe5 6.Qh5 in a high level encounter.

I've also reappraised 5...Bf5 which was seen in Conquest-Baburin (in the PGN Archive) and looked at the interesting 6.e6!? in that position:

Exchange 5...exd6 [B03]

In Shirov - Appel we see the Latvian tactician in a quieter mood as he takes on one of the most solid lines in the Alekhine's. The game does briefly catch fire at one point, before burning out to an equal endgame. Still, Black's setup after 16 moves is an important one:

Appel's position is very solid, he has pressure on d4 and ...b6, ...a5 gives him chances to liquidate on the queenside.

Pirc 4.Be3 [B07]

After 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be3 Bg7 5.f3 c6 6.Qd2 b5 quite a standard position was reached. Normally White now aims for a quick kingside hack with something like 7.g4!? but in Yu Yangyi-Giri we see a more positional approach after 7.a4 b4 8.Nd1:

Anish equalises with some accurate moves but later gets into big trouble and in the end he's fortunate to escape with a draw.

Caro-Kann Advance - 3...c5 [B12]

Our last two games take us back into more familiar territory starting with Grischuk - Shimanov. Whether or not the fact the game was a rapid made a difference I don't know, but after 4.dxc5 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.c3 e6 7.b4 Nge7 8.Nbd2 Black plays the slow 8...a6?! and fails to regain his pawn. Instead 8...Qc7 is more critical:

Advance 3...Bf5 4.h4 [B12]

Maxime Vachier Lagrave has been scoring heavily with this line over the last couple of years, notching up wins against Akobian, Grischuk and Laznicka. His latest victim is Erwin L'Ami who tries the critical line 4...h5 5.c4 e6 6.Nc3 Ne7 7.Nge2 Nd7 8.Ng3 Bg6 9.cxd5 cxd5 10.Bg5 Qb6 11.Bb5 Nc6 12.0-0:

The position at first seems fairly level but White's preparation is impressive and Black quickly gets outplayed. I've found a couple of possible improvements for Black and I recommend that you check them out carefully before playing this line. See Vachier Lagrave-L'Ami.

That's all for this month, Tom.

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