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Welcome to the October 1 e4 Others Update.
It's good to see the World Champion trying out various openings discussed in this section of ChessPub. This month he features as Black in a 1 e4 Nc6 game. I'd especially like to see Magnus try Alekhine’s Defence again, and revive an opening which he used to beat Topalov many years ago.
As well as Carlsen and the high powered Wei Yi, we also get to see Fedoseev and Rapport in action. These exciting young players might suffer an occasional sharp defeat, but they are capable of creating winning chances against the highest rated opponents with the black pieces.
Also in the analysis to Lagarde-Fedoseev I have the excuse to give a game by Karl Robatsch, an Austrian GM and one of the early heroes of the Modern set up. He got a gold medal on board one at the Leipzig Olympiad in 1960 doing his 1...g6 stuff.

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

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Scandinavian Czebe Variation: 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 g6 [B01]

Players of White have devised some challenging responses to the Czebe Variation. This month’s game runs 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.h3 a6 9.a4 Nc6 10.b3:

Kryvoruchko has restrained the counterthrust 9...b5 and prepared an aggressive development of his queen's bishop. After 11.Ba3 White will have his bishops raking two long diagonals against the black kingside. Black needs to take immediate measures to lessen their power. You can find a discussion of Black’s best response in Kryvoruchko, Y - Danielsen, M.

Alekhine’s Defence 4.Nf3 dxe5 5.Nxe5 c6 6.Be2 Bf5 7.0-0 Nd7 [B04]

Here 8.c4!? is a new move for ChessPub. As it was played by Wei Yi we had better pay attention:

It's what White would like to play, but can he prove an edge after 8...Nb4, when his queenside looks vulnerable?

Now White must not only deal with the threat of 9...Nc2, but also prevent Black from equalising or more with Nxe5 and answering d4xe5 with Qxd1. Another fly in the ointment is Bxb1 and, after Rxb1, the capture Nxa2. I’ve looked at how White may nonetheless emerge on top in the analysis to Wei Yi - Maghsoodloo, P.

Modern Defence 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.Qe2 [B06]

When I played the Pirc as a junior I remember being scared of this sharp variation. White aims for e4-e5 to gain a solid space advantage and disturb Black's knight on f6. In this month’s game 6.h3, delaying e4-e5, was a clever move for reasons given in my analysis, but it met with the equally shrewd 6...Nfd7!:

Black gets the knight out of the way of e4-e5 and prepares to strike with ...e7-e5 to equalise space in the centre. Check out the great attacking game Lagarde, M - Fedoseev, V.

Nimzowitsch/Pirc Defence 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.d5 Nb8 5.Bd3 g6 [B00/07]

Next up is Magnus Carlsen. His opening strategy as Black is close in spirit to that of Petrosian and Rapport in their games above. He continued 6.0-0 Bg7 7.c4 0-0 8.Nc3 Bg4:

The World Champion shows his willingness to unclutter his cramped position by giving up his light squared bishop for a knight. This is all the more sensible as White's horse on f3 is a well placed piece which supports a possible e4-e5 centre breakthrough.

The late IM Bob Wade once told me that ...e7-e5 was a mistake for Black in the King's Indian. I think he would have been happy to see Carlsen leaving the long diagonal open for his bishop on g7. After 9.Be2 Nfd7 a hard struggle unfolded in Kasimdzhanov, R - Carlsen, M.

Nimzowitsch/Pirc Defence 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Bg4 [B00/08]

Here the very early 3...Bg4 is a logical move: Black has less space so he ensures that he is able to exchange off his bishop before White has the chance for h2-h3. On the other hand it's not for nothing that swapping a bishop for a knight has been described as the loss of the minor exchange!

In our illustrative game Petrosian guides play into the Classical Variation of the Pirc via 4.Be2 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.d5 Bxf3 7.Bxf3 Ne5 8.Be2 Bg7 9.0-0 0-0 10.Be3 c6:

This is an established, though not especially popular, theoretical line. Black can be pleased to have got rid of White's spearhead on d5 and have a pawn keeping the white knight out of that square. The resulting slugfest led to a final position which deserves a diagram:

It’s a draw with the black king jumping backwards and forwards from d5 to e4 to f3 as the bishop checks on f7, g6 and h5. If the black king ever decides to go to d4 he loses in a neat style. Enjoy Li, Ruifeng - Petrosian, TL.

Nimzowitsch/Pirc Defence 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 g6 5.Be2 Bg7 6.0-0 0-0 [B00/08]

Our second game also investigates a transposition from the Nimzowitsch into a Pirc Classical Variation. Here Black’s knight was pushed back with 7.d5 Nb8:

White has gained time and space by forcing the knight backwards. But if you compare the situation here with that in Kasimdzhanov-Carlsen given below, you’ll see the drawback that White isn’t able to support the pawn with c2-c4: the knight on c3 is stuck in the way.

As a result the pawn on d5 can be undermined after 8.Be3 with 8...c6, which in a King's Indian style structure with c2-c4 doesn't bother White much as he can reply c4xd5. In contrast here ...c6xd5 would remove half his centre by forcing the recapture e4xd5. Then Black could utilise the c-file for counterplay against the backward c2 pawn. That at least is the sales pitch for Black. A space advantage is still a space advantage, and the pawn on d5 cramps Black's game. You can see how a sharp game resulted with Rapport’s tactical flair winning the day in Pichot, A - Rapport, R.

Caro-Kann Advance Short Variation 5.Be2 c5 [B12]

Here we look at 6.Be3 cxd4 7.Nxd4 Ne7:

This line is trusted by some of the strongest and best prepared players in the world. Black has to accept that he is going to have a fractured pawn structure and so be a little worse, but as consolation he has good chances to hold the draw. I guess this suits a lot of elite players for whom a draw with Black is a decent result. But I'm not sure if club players or ordinary tournament players (I include myself in that number) should play like this. After the subsequent moves 8.0-0 Nbc6 9.Bb5 a6 10.Bxc6+ bxc6 11.c4 Qd7 12.Nc3 dxc4 13.Na4 Nd5 14.Nxf5 exf5 15.Rc1 c3 Nepomniachtchi unleashed 16.Qc2!?:

This ensures the queens stay on the board and gives his opponent difficult problems to solve. Check out the Russian Grandmaster’s excellent analysis and fine attacking play in Nepomniachtchi, I - Laznicka,V.

Caro-Kann Exchange Variation 4 Bd3 Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Bf4 [B13]

Finally we’ll see how Ivanchuk outwitted his perennial opponent Kramnik with the black pieces. There was an instructive moment at move 10 after he moves 6...Bg4 7.Qb3 Qc8 8.Nd2 e6 9.Ngf3 Be7 10.0-0:

After the automatic 10...0-0 White can build up a kingside attack with Ne5 etc. Therefore Ivanchuk preferred 10...Bh5!:

Black leaves his king in the centre and prepares the exchange of light-squared bishops. This will not only lessen the danger of White's potential kingside assault but also allow him to soften up the queenside squares no longer guarded by the enemy bishop.

We should investigate what went wrong for former World Champion Kramnik (besides the obvious problem of having Ivanchuk for an opponent!) in Kramnik, V - Ivanchuk, V.

That’s all for this month. I hope you enjoyed playing through some great games and picked up a couple of ideas. Good luck in your chess!

All best regards, Neil.

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