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Hello everybody,
The Baku Olympiad featured a whole variety of new ideas and I have chosen those most relevant to the material we looked at recently. The main focus will be on how Black can deal with the classical setup against the 4...a6 Modern Defense, and we also explore some fresh new ideas in the Short variation of the Advanced Caro-Kann.

Download PGN of October ’16 1 e4 ... games

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Scandinavian 3...Qd6 Variation: 5...c6 [B01]

Caruana, F - Carlsen, M shows another game where Magnus chooses an offbeat variation to meet his well-prepared opponent.

Black intends to trade off another pair of minor pieces and neutralise White’s advantage by countering in the centre with ...c5 or ...e5 later.

Here Magnus calculated a long variation to head towards equalising, can you spot it?

Alekhine's Defence: Four Pawns Attack 10.Be2 [B03]

Solomon, S - Ly, M featured an old line of the Alekhine’s Four Pawns Attack. White didn’t play one of the critical variations but still had a typically pleasant position:

White is usually a bit better in these positions but it’s not so easy to prove since White’s pawn on d4 can easily be as weak as Black’s pawn on e6.

Instead White made a few inaccuracies and his last move allowed a nice tactical shot. Can you see the critical variations from here?

Pirc Defense: Classical with 4...a6, 7.Re1 Nc6 8.d5 Na7 [B08]

There are two games in this variation, which I will examine.

Solak, D - Carlsen, M is the first game where we examine how to handle White’s classical setup against our ...a6 Modern/Pirc Defense:

This interesting move caught White unaware. White didn’t seem to know how to react and quickly found his centre in ruins. It also keeps an extra pair of pieces on the board, while the knight can easily re-enter the game with ...c6 or via ...Nc8 to b6.

Pirc Defense: Classical with 4...a6, 7.Re1 Nc6 8.d5 Ne5 [B08]

Morovic Fernandez, I - Zhang Zhong gives an alternate way to play the position with the more common looking 8...Ne5. This is the solid option so we should also examine it:

Zhang Zhong got very easy play on the queenside and soon found himself in a much better opposite colour bishops’ middle-game.

Caro-Kann Short Variation: 6...h6 and 7.Nc3!? [B12]

Kasimdzhanov, R - Peralta, F features a new move to ChessPublishing, and, in fact, a rarely played idea. It is usually more common to move the knight to d2 instead:

It can easily catch even strong players by surprise if they only ever considered 7.Nbd2 or 7.c3 as a possibility. In saying that, I don’t think the line is particularly dangerous for Black and I will offer a number of ways to neutralise this variation.

Caro-Kann Short Variation: 5...c5 6.Be3 cxd4 7.Nxd4 Ne7 [B12]

Vachier Lagrave, M - Navara, D examines a trendy line currently in the advanced Caro-Kann with an early exchange on d4:

In the game MVL got some pressure on Black’s position but this wasn’t quite enough and the game ended in a draw.

Caro-Kann Advanced Short Variation: 7.a4 a6 [B12]

Caruana, F - Bareev, E is another excellent example of how to play our chosen system with 7.a4! in the Advanced.

Black went for immediate counter play in the centre to avoid White creating a bind on the position. However, Bareev never quite had enough time to safely ...0-0 and consolidate as 13.g4! suddenly put him under a lot of pressure.

Caro-Kann Classical Main Line: 14...Qb6 [B19]

Dervishi, E - Eljanov, P features the uncommon 14...Qb6 in one of the classical main lines of the Caro-Kann:

The idea is to allow the option of ...Bb4 in many positions if White goes for Nf5. Perhaps players were already quite happy with 14...Qc7 that they didn’t consider many other options. In the game White castled queenside but didn’t generate any attack and soon lost the initiative.

Till next time, Moulthun

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