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There's a lot of bold fighting chess to enjoy. Normally it's a question of White's vitality versus Black's solidity, but this month in no less than five games White's king becomes the target of a fierce attack. Let's get down to business.

Download PGN of November '14 1 e4 ... games

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Scandinavian 2...Qxd5 3.d4 [B01]

A battling line preferred to easy equality

After 3.d4 Black can liquidate the centre with 3...e5! when he has few problems. However, it's not very exciting and in this month's game the Australian Grandmaster David Smerdon avoids an easy life in favour of the sharp line 3...Nc6 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Be2 0-0-0:

Black's development is rapid and aggressive and likely to score especially well in club and tournament games below elite level. Check out the exciting game Becker - Smerdon.

Alekhine Defence- 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Bc4 c6 [B04]

Black's freeing move in jeopardy

If Black entrenches himself in the centre a critical position is reached after 6.exd6 Qxd6 7.0-0 Bg7 8.h3 8.0-0 9.Bb3 b5:

Black prevents his knight being driven back by c2-c4 and also obstructs the manoeuvre Nbd2 and Nc4, which would attack his queen and put the white knight on a strong centre square. Nonetheless 9...b5 has loosened the black queenside pawns. White will advance c2-c4 in good time to break them up and leave a weakness on c6. Then the question is whether Black can successfully break out of the bind with ...c6-c5. This is discussed in Vokac - Jedlicka.

Pirc Defence 150 Attack 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be3 [B07]

The Pirc shows its fangs against impulsive play

In this month's game two very strong Grandmasters slug it out in an exciting battle after 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be3 Bg7 5.Qd2 0-0 6.0-0-0 c6 7.f3 b5 8.h4:

Hracek doesn't show much respect for the Pirc: he has castled queenside and pushed forward the h-pawn with mate evidently in mind. Black has to be careful not to be wiped out in the style of a Sicilian Yugoslav Dragon that's gone horribly wrong for him (and here he doesn't even have the open c-file for counterplay). However, careful defence on the kingside combined with a vigorous advance of the queenside pawn lead to a splendid victory for Black in Hracek - Marin.

Pirc Defence Austrian Attack 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.e5 [B09]

Is a big centre an asset or liability?

Here we'll have a look at a way to avoid the sharp and highly theoretical line 6...Nfd7 7.h4 c5 which has been extensively analysed in the ChessPub archives. This can be done with 6...dxe5 7.fxe5 Nd5:

A classic debate begins of the kind also seen in the Alekhine, Scandinavian and other half open defences to 1.e4: is the White centre strong because it controls a lot of space and restricts the black pieces, or a weakness because it is over extended and requires defending? Here is Pashikian - Petrosian.

Caro-Kann Two Knights 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 [B11]

A crafty approach versus the Two Knights

If you want to avoid the Two Knights mainline with 3...Bg4 as Black then Baadur Jobava's choice in the next game is quite appealing. He tried 3...dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ exf6:

The Korchnoi System usually begins 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ exf6, when the most popular set up for White is 6.c3 Bd6 7.Bd3 0-0 8.Ne2.However, in the Two Knights version of the diagram White's knight is already committed to f3, so he is deprived of this possibility. Karjakin doesn't seem comfortable with his other options and gets no advantage from the opening. He then suffers a sharp defeat when his Georgian opponent sacrifices a piece in Karjakin - Jobava.

Caro-Kann Advance 3...Bf5 Short System 6...h5!? [B12]

Deep and dangerous preparation 2700 style

Even by the standards of other 2700 players, Jobava has deep and dangerous opening preparation. After 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 Nd7 6.0-0 he has lashed out with 6...h5!?:

On ChessPub we have analysed 6...Bg6, 6...Ne7, 6...h6 and 6...a6, but this naked aggression is something new. Jobava follows it up with a piece sacrifice leading to a wild struggle in Vachier Lagrave-Jobava.

Caro-Kann Advance 3.e5 c5 [B12]

No easy way for Black to avoid the mind-boggling mainline

If Black can get away with 3...c5 versus the Caro-Kann Advance then he can avoid all the long and head spinning variations after 3...Bf5 4.Nf3. Alas, it seems slightly suspect for Black as after 4.dxc5 it is difficult to regain the pawn without making a positional concession. In this month's game after the subsequent 4...Nc6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.c3 e6 7.Be3 Black tried 7...a6 to prevent 8.Bb5. However Ukraine Grandmaster Yuri Kryvoruchko came up with a new idea: 8.Qb3!? offering to gambit his e5 pawn for the b7 pawn:

It worked well for him in Kryvoruchko - Zubarev.

Caro-Kann Panov-Botvinnik 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 [B13]

White's kingside pieces remain asleep for 18 moves

Here we revisit the line 6.Bg5 Ne4!? This is speciality of Russian GM Sanan Sjugirov. After 7.Nxe4 dxe4 8.d5 Ne5 7.Nxe4 dxe4 8.d5 Ne5 his opponent tried the new move 9.Rc1:

Hampered on the kingside by the pawn on e4 that stops him developing his knight, GM Tomas Oral elects to advance quickly on the queenside and utilise his 4-2 majority. But can such a plan work when his kingside remains undeveloped for 18 moves? It all ended in tears for him in Oral - Sjugirov,S.

That's all for now. I hope you enjoyed the exciting games this month. Good luck with your chess!

All best wishes, Neil.

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