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Scandinavian 3.Nc3 Qd8 [B01]
Space versus solidity
If you decide to play the Scandinavian with 3...Qd8 you'll have to be prepared to give up the bishop pair and cede White a space advantage. Of course this won't appeal to everyone. But in return you get to build a secure centre and achieve a smooth development:
Having escaped theory you can try to outplay your opponent. Here is a good lesson in how to handle the pawn structure in Malakhov - Chigaev.
Scandinavian 3.Nc3 Qd6 [B01]
You can't win them all!
Fabiano Caruana's great unbeaten run began after he lost to Carlsen's Scandinavian Defence at the Norway 2014 Olympiad. And it came to an end with a loss...playing the Scandinavian. The unfortunate event occurred at the Baku Grand Prix tournament. It should be remembered that Caruana was leading with three wins and three draws, while Andreikin had a dismal three draws and three losses. Therefore it's no surprise the World Number Two player decided to try something enterprising as Black to set his opponent problems to solve. He got a perfectly decent position but then the mistakes started in Andreikin - Caruana.
Alekhine's Defence Exchange-5...cxd6 [B03]
In modern chess theory the most obvious move can be a mistake
White can easily lose control if he is unfamiliar with the subtleties of the Alekhine Defence. In this month's game after 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.exd6 cxd6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Be3 Bg7 8.Rc1 0-0 he played the natural developing move 9.Nf3. This is a poor strategic decision after Black's reply 9...Bg4:
I recall one of my predecessors on this site (I believe it was John Watson) remarking that the health of Black's position in the Alekhine depends on whether the knight on b6 finds an effective role. Here the c8 square has been effortlessly cleared by ...Bg4, and the horse can use it to greatly improve its fortunes as we see in Djukic - Marinkovic.
Modern Defence-3...a6 4.Be3 b5 [B06]
The demise of Black's opening scheme
Some experts in the Modern Defence have been delaying the d7-d6 move in order to expand quickly on the queenside with 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 a6 4.Be3 b5. The latest try for White is 5.g4!?:
Could this be the refutation of Black's opening line? It prepares an immediate pawn storm on the kingside and clears the g2 square for the bishop. Black was unable to find a good response in Solodovnichenko - Kunin.
North Sea Defence-1.e4 g6 2.d4 Nf6 [B06]
Adventurous play rewarded
The North Sea Defence is a curious hybrid of the Modern and Alekhine Defence. What revitalises the system for Black is that after 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Nf6 3.e5 Nh5 4.Be2 Black can play 4...d6! ignoring the threat to h5:
Richard Rapport is 18 years old and rated 2720. He has a high reputation for his creative ideas, but also has fine technique which he demonstrates in Solak - Rapport.
Caro-Kann Two Knights Mainline 8...Nxe4 [B11]
From the Caro-Kann to the Scandinavian
The Two Knights is growing in popularity for White. A solid response for Black is 1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 e6 6.d4 Nf6 7.Bd3 dxe4 8.Nxe4 Nxe4 9.Qxe4:
If you've looked at the Malakhov-Chigaev game above you'll see that Black has adopted the same strategy as in the Scandinavian 3...Qd8: conceding the two bishops and a space advantage in return for a smooth development and a solid centre. He equalises easily and then scores a quick win when his opponent tries for too much in Libiszewski - Sumets.
Caro-Kann Advance Short System 5.Be2 c5 6.Be3 [B12]
Battle still rages in the sharpest line of the Caro-Kann
Last month we analysed the topical variation 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 c5 6.Be3 Qb6 with a critical position being reached after 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.0-0 Qxb2 9.Qe1 cxd4 10.Bxd4 Nxd4 11.Nxd4 Bb4 12.Ndb5 Ba5 13.Rb1 Qxc2 14.Rc1 Qb2:
Here Caruana-Vachier Lagrave in the September update continued 15.g4!? This worked out splendidly for White, but of course it no longer has the all important surprise value. In this month's game a 2700 Elo Ukrainian Grandmaster decided to test 15.Nd6+. White gets a strong initiative for two pawns in a complex endgame in Kryvoruchko - Czarnota.
Caro-Kann Classical 4...Bf5 mainline 7...e6 8.Ne5 [B19]
How to stop White's kingside pawn storm
In the mainline with 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 e6 8.Ne5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 Nd7 11.f4 Bb4+ 12.c3 the usual move is 12...Be7 as played for example by Carlsen in his first World Championship match with Anand. Here we take a look at the alternative 12...Bd6!?:
To be successful with the Classical Caro-Kann you need to be aware of some key defensive ideas to hold up White's kingside attack. These are considered in the analysis to Fressinet - Motylev.
That's all for this month. I hope you enjoyed the update and learnt a couple of useful things. Good luck with your chess!
Best Wishes, Neil.
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