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Dear Readers,
This month we have a very interesting update, as the World Cup brought us many fascinating games. I must say that the Scandinavian is starting to become a big opening. Many lines are being tested and many interesting ideas have been found. Of course, White is also on alert. The Caro-Kann and Scandinavian are seriously improved and they are now not only valid openings, but they also present a serious challenge to White.

Download PGN of October '15 1 e4 ... games

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Caro-Kann Defence Classical 4...Bf5 Mainline 15.Qd3 [B19]

We start our survey with the Caro-Kann, and the first five games are from this opening.

In Guseinov - Navara World Cup, the main line was tested again and we got a very interesting and unbalanced game.

After 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 e6 11.Bd2 Ngf6 12.0-0-0 Be7 13.Ne4:

Later Black sacrificed his queen and gained reasonable compensation, but subsequently he misplayed it and lost.

Caro-Kann Advance - Short System Mainline 6.0-0 h6 7.Nbd2 Ne7 8.Nb3 [B12]

Games 2 and 3 are actually from the same World Cup match, Hou-Yifan-Leitao. Leitao used two strategically interesting ideas and both times got good play, but then misplayed them both.

So, in game 2 after 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 Nd7 6.0-0 h6 7.Nbd2 Ne7 8.Nb3 Nc8:

Black later used a new idea and managed to get the better play, although some questions remain unanswered.

In Game 3 we saw a slightly different approach, 8.Nb3 Bh7 9.a4 Ng6:

This time Leitao got a really winning position, but just before the time control he allowed White to escape.

I must admit that both ideas are more than interesting for Black.

Caro-Kann Advance 3...c5, 4...cxd4 [B12]

Perunovic - Wang Hao was also from the World Cup, but this time featured the controversial line 3.e5 c5 4.Ne2 cxd4 5.Nxd4 e6:

This line is somehow underrated, as is the whole 3...c5 variation, but there are always some games that challenge that opinion and this game is one of those.

Panov-Botvinnik Attack 6.Bg5 dxc4 pawn sac line [B13]

Mamediarov - Sethuraman was another World Cup game, this time in the Panov Attack, coming from a 1.c4 move order.

So, after 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 dxc4 7.Bxc4 Qxd4 8.Qxd4 Nxd4 9.0-0-0 e5 10.f4 Bg4 11.Nf3 we come to the well-known pawn sacrifice line:

Obviously Mamediarov came really well prepared and managed to outplay his opponent, but still Black had some better ways to fight for a draw. However, the line itself is dangerous for Black.

Scandinavian Defence 3...Qa5, 5...Bf5!? [B01]

Adams - Laznicka was another World Cup encounter, and a really intriguing one. Laznicka defended a very interesting line in the Scandinavian and got a winning position, but then messed it up.

After the following moves 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bf5!?:

Black has a very interesting set up. This is a line that can be seriously counted on in the future. Later on, Adams came up with another idea for White on the 8th move and won the match (see the notes).

Scandinavian Defence 3...Qd6 [B01]

Vuckovic - Benkovic from the Serbian League, was not successful for Black. The game started 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 a6 6.g3 Bg4:

This is probably not so good for Black and the game clearly shows that. The Scandinavian must be played with the utmost accuracy, otherwise, as this game shows, White is simply too fast.

And Vuckovic - Spasov was also from the Serbian League, but this time featuring another very interesting approach from Black that we might see more of in the future. After 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 now 5...Bg4!? is a bold idea:

Some of us analyzed this position in the postmortem, and it is sharp but certainly playable. Further tests will tell us more, but so far it is an encouraging start for Black.

I hope you enjoy this month's column, best wishes Milos.

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