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Hello everyone! I'm back to discuss 1.e4 openings, only this time not the Anti-Sicilians. By far the most critical lines in these systems are to be found in the Caro-Kann, in particular the Advance Variation, and that's where I've focussed my attention this month.

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

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Caro-Kann Advance 3...Bf5 Short System [B12]

A number of important games were played in this line over the last few weeks.

In Gopal - Iturrizaga, Black goes for an old recommendation from Gawain, playing sharply with queenside castling:

Saric - Rodshtein features an interesting early deviation, 7.a4!?:

This seems to have been forgotten despite having been tested in 2012 between Karjakin and Ding Liren, but it's a logical move and could be due for a revival.

Caro-Kann Advance 3...Bf5 4.h4 h5 [B12]

The system with 4.h4 often leads to complex manoeuvring battles. In Tari - Melkumyan, Black opts for a less played continuation, 6...Bb4:

White seems to retain some pull but the positions are complex and fully playable for Black.

Caro-Kann Advance 3...c5 4.dxc5 Nc6 5.a3 [B12]

Collins - Hawkins features one of the main exponents of 3...c5, English GM Jonathan Hawkins, in action against yours truly. Jonathan repeated a line from a rapid game with 6...f6:

which seems to me to be fully playable.

Caro-Kann Two Knights 3...Nf6 [B11]

In Bacrot - Tari, the critical 3...Nf6 variation of the Two Knights is tested between two strong GMs. Tari goes for the risky 10...Ne4:

after which Bacrot wins a good game, although both sides have improvements.

Pirc Classical 6...Nc6 7.d5 Ne5!? [B08]

Arizmendi - Zubov caught my eye, as Black effortlessly equalised with 6...Nc6 7.d5 and now the rare 7...Ne5!?:

This has been tried by some decent players (including Beliavsky in an Olympiad), and for good reason, since as far as I can tell White has next to nothing in this line. This might be a complete answer to the Classical for all you Pirc fans.

Alekhine's Defence 4.Nf3 c6 [B04]

One of the outstanding blitz games from Zurich this year was undoubtedly Anand - Nakamura.

The players contested a topical line of the Alekhine, but Anand played a crisp and instructive attack which was worthy of any time control.

Scandinavian Defence, Czebe Variation 2...Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.d4 g6 [B01]

Lu - Kurajica is a model example of White's chances when Black abandons the fight for the centre.

This type of position can arise in all the openings covered in this section (when Black plays unambitiously, or plays badly) and accordingly this game is definitely worth having in your mental repertoire.

Till next time, Sam

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