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Welcome to the November 1 e4 Others Update.
A common stratagem for Black in 1 e4 Others openings is to goad the opponent into an attack by conceding space and perhaps also delaying development. Then when White’s position has been worn down by his over zealous efforts to land a decisive blow, it is time to launch a counter attack. In this month’s games we see Black taking control once the energy has drained from White’s position. Though there are some crushing miniature wins for White as well- it’s not a perfect world!

Download PGN of November ’17 1 e4 ... games

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Scandinavian 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.d4 c6 5.Nf3 Bg4 [B01]

Now, after 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.d4 Black can escape the sharp theory of the mainline by delaying 4...Nf6 with 4...c6 5.Nf3 Bg4 when the game continued 6.Be2 Nf6. However, there is a fly in the ointment, namely 6.h3! Bxf3 7.Qxf3:

Here 7...Qxd4 looks risky for Black, notwithstanding a swindle by Anatoly Karpov against Vassily Ivanchuk which I’ve included in the notes. But I always thought Black would be OK if he played in quiet fashion with 7...Nf6. He has conceded the two bishops, but he is solid, right? This however is not the case as you will discover in the notes to Halfhide, S - Tiviakov, S.

Alekhine’s Defence Exchange: 5...cxd6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Be3 Bg7 8.Rc1 0-0 9.b3 [B03]

Here 9...Bf5! is the best Christmas present Alekhine players have ever received. Statistically and theoretically it outshines the old moves 9...e5 and 9...Nc6. The latest Scrooge-like attempt to do it down is 10.h4!?:

I imagine White evaluated the position somewhat as follows: 'both the black knights are a long way from the defence of their king. There is a target on g6 which can be assailed by h4-h5, perhaps combined with g2-g4 to gain time by hitting the bishop on f5. Meanwhile the situation in the centre is quiet so I don't need to fear my own king coming under attack.'

Black needs to find a flaw in this assessment. He succeeded and restored joy to the Alekhine world in Perez Ponsa, F - Llanos, G.

Modern Defence, Hippopotamus: 3.Bc4 Bg7 4.Nf3 [B06]

And now a Hippopotamus waddles out of the river with 4...e6!?:

The Hippopotamus is especially appropriate here as the white pieces are clumsily placed to meet it. Thus the knight on f3 is in the way of an f4-f5 advance, and the bishop on c4 not only blocks c2-c4 but could be hit by an expansion with a7-a6 and b7-b5 or in some cases d6-d5. It’s no wonder that you can find games played by Carlsen and Caruana as Black in the ChessPub archives. For this month check out an interesting struggle with a particularly instructive endgame in Grandelius, N - Dubov, D.

Modern Defence versus 150 Attack: 4.Be3 a6 5.Nf3 b5 6.Bd3 Nd7 [B06]

Here the sharpest continuation is 7.e5 Bb7 8.e6 fxe6 9.Ng5 Nf8 10.0-0:

What is White's compensation for the important e-pawn? In order to defend e6 the black knight has been forced to f8, where it hinders the king from escaping from the centre by castling kingside. This also means the rook on h8 will remain buried for a number of moves: if White succeeds in breaking open lines on the queenside its absence from the struggle could be of great importance.

It’s interesting to see how the World Champion sets about solving Black’s problems in this variation. I’ve also taken a quick look at Magnus’ win versus Wesley So in a blitz game (after 7...e6 8.Ne4) in the notes to Perelshteyn, E - Carlsen, M

Pirc Defence versus 150 Attack: 4.Be3 Nf6 5.Qd2 [B07]

Incidentally, in all three Modern/Pirc Defence games given this month, Black has played a move order that allows White if he wishes to transpose into a King’s Indian Defence. Be careful not to be tricked out of your repertoire: if you want to keep it a Pirc for certain then 1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 is the way to go, so that after 3 Nc3 to defend e4 White is denied 3.c4.

This month we take a look at 5...Nc6. Surprisingly this is a new line for ChessPub. Black looks for activity based on e7-e5. The mainline runs 5...Nc6 6.f3 e5 7.Nge2 exd4 8.Nxd4 0-0:

We have reached a position akin to a Sicilian Dragon, but with a black pawn on c7 rather than e7. You can find full analysis to 9.Nxc6 and 9.0-0-0 by clicking on Plat, V - Mamedov, R.

Caro-Kann Short Variation 5.Be2 Ne7 6.0-0 [B12]

Here we go again: another complex battle in the Short System. When Nigel Short pioneered his system I imagine he was looking for a quiet life with a stable space advantage and no counterplay for Black. Instead it has developed into one of the most complex (and confusing!) lines in modern chess.

This month we investigate 6... Ne7 7.Nbd2 h6 8.c3 g5!?:

As recommended by computer World Champ Houdini. Black seeks counterplay by advancing his kingside pawns. Here’s a puzzle for you.

What do you think is White’s best move?

You can see the full story, along with possible improvements to Black’s play and an important idea by Nakamura, in Jakovenko, D- Lan, Z.

Caro-Kann Advance: 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4 h5 [B12]

We haven’t looked at this variation in a while. Let’s head straight for the most critical line, namely 5.Bd3 Bxd3 6.Qxd3 e6 7.Bg5 Qb6 8.Nd2 c5 9.c4 Qxb2:

Black has captured the infamous Poisoned Pawn. On the other hand, the white rook on a1 is hanging, so he is sure to pick up the d4 pawn as well. Can he play like this and survive with an extra pawn or two, or is White’s initiative too powerful? It is a highly confusing situation after either 10.Rb1 or 10.Rd1, but I’ve analysed it using the most recent games and the help of some silicon friends in Wang Hao - Vavric, P.

Caro-Kann: Classical 4...Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 e6 [B19]

Here after 11.Bf4 Qa5+ Subscriber Daniel Tanco has brought 12.Nd2!? to my attention:

White blocks the check from the queen with his knight rather than the usual bishop retreat 12.Bd2.

Daniel points out that GM Jonny Hector has a tremendous score with it. Indeed it seems a speciality of the Swedish Grandmaster. The conclusion from examining these games is that Black is OK if he is vigilant, but it makes a good surprise weapon. White can get great attacking chances if his opponent is careless as shown in Hector, J - Danielsen, H.

That’s all for this update. I hope you enjoyed it and picked up a couple of ideas. Have fun over the Christmas break and good luck with any chess you play.

All the best, Neil.

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