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It's a dark month for Black players as White scores an impressive 7½/8 in this update. All is not lost, however, as often the opening wasn't to blame for the losses, and where it was I've tried to suggest improvements as usual!

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

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Centre Counter - 3...Qa5, 5 Bd2 Bg4 [B01]

Our first game this month investigates 5.Bd2 Bg4 6.f3 Bd7 7.Bc4 Qb6 8.Nge2 e6 and earlier this year I annotated a game where Anand won a comfortable game with 9.Bb3, however Black should've equalised in that game and I prefer 9.0-0 Be7 10.a4 a5 11.Ne4!?:

which caused Black problems in Naiditsch - Stevic, that ultimately he was unable to solve.

Centre Counter - 3...Qa5, 5...c6 6 Bd2 Bg4 [B01]

The opening was at fault in Volokitin - Cioara however: I don't like 5...c6 6.Bd2 Bg4?! at all and a new idea for White only adds to this. The position after 11.Qe2!:

is close to winning for White.

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

We saw last month how Dmitry Andreikin used the 3...c5 Caro successfully in his match with Svidler. Here he faces the interesting 4.dxc5 Nc6 5.a3!? which doesn't attempt to hold on to the pawn but instead prepares b4 & Bb2:

It may be that Black can equalise against this but it's not easy and in Nepomniachtchi - Andreikin White wins a nice game. Probably Black should take immediately on e5 rather than play 5...e6.

Areshchenko - Bernadskiy was a more mainline 3...c5 and we've seen the position after 8.Nbd2 before:

In Grischuk-Shimanov Black got into trouble with 8...a6?! but Bernadskiy's 8...a5 is a definite improvement which, despite Black losing this game, deserves attention.

Caro-Kann Advance - Short Variation [B12]

In the line 5.Be2 Nd7 6.0-0 Bg6 7.Nbd2 Nh6!? the best move is probably 8.Nb3! which is what we see in Caruana - Tomashevsky, but I quite like Black's response and the position after 12.Bf4 is fairly unclear:

However, Black now goes wrong with 12...a6?! and he reaches a rather passive position. Tomashevsky tries a pawn sacrifice and comes close to getting back into the game before a final mistake seals his fate.

The move orders in the Advance can often be quite confusing and the next two games look at occasions when perhaps it's better for Black to delay ...c5 until the right moment (often when White has played Ne1). In Giri - Svetushkin we see 5.Be2 Ne7 6.c3 Bg6 7.0-0 Nf5 8.Nbd2 and here I think Black should delay ...c5 in favour of ...Nd7. Instead Black plays the break immediately and after 9.Nb3! c4 10.Nbd2:

White has blocked the centre and immediately goes on the attack on the kingside with 11.g4, Giri going on to win an impressive game.

Wang Hao scores Black's only draw of this update and demonstrates the right time to play ...c5. I covered the position after 8.Na3!? last year in Ponomariov-Grischuk:

where Black chose 8...Bh7 9.Nc2 c5 but White was able to keep an advantage in that game. Instead, in Ponomariov - Wang Hao Black improves with 8...a6 9.Nc2 Bh7, and only after 10.Nfe1 does he play 10...c5! This equalises fairly easily, and in fact Black had the better chances later on in the game.

Finally we examine a line where Black tries for a quick ...f6 break in Smirin - Pantsulaia 5.Be2 Nd7 6.0-0 Ne7 7.Nbd2 Ng6 is already a new position for ChessPublishing and it leads to highly original play after 8.Nb3 f6 9.Ne1! h5:

White may have scored well from this position but I think it should be fully playable for Black, especially if he's well prepared. In the game Black makes the first mistake and gets quickly outplayed.

Hopefully Black will do better next month, we'll see! Tom.

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