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This month, we cover a range of different openings. Both annotators examine the Modern Defence and Caro-Kann, while Dan also takes a look at the Scandinavian Defence. Justin focusses his attention on the exciting Fide Grand Swiss, while Dan takes on a wide range of openings to draw various useful comparisons.

Download PGN of October ’19 1 e4 ... games

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Scandinavian Defence 2...Nf6 3 d4 Nxd5 4 c4 Nb6 [B01]

This month I decided to cover a line which, to me, illustrates the ‘middle ground’ nature of the Scandinavian within this section. The first three moves are also found (with the inclusion of 2.h4 g6) in a later game in the update. There, Black seems to equalise, but with some trouble. In this version, Black brings the knight to b6 and is, unsurprisingly, really struggling to equalise. The parallel can then be made with the Alekhine where Black has managed to recapture on d6 with neither pawn! The game continued 5.Nc3 e5 6.Qe2:

Unfortunately, in Bharath, S- Sean, W Black began to slide further and was very close to losing a few times, before salvaging the game with some inspired defence.

Modern Defence, Austrian Attack 4...a6 5 Nf3 Nd7 [B06]

Last month, Dan mentioned (in a sidenote) a slightly offbeat move in the Modern, 1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nc3 d6 4 f4 a6 5 Nf3 Nd7. This month, I delve deeper into the line as it occurred in the game Plenca, J - Loncar, R. White responded with the routine 6 Bd3?! which gave his opponent a pleasant Benoni structure following 6...c5! 7 d5 8 b5:

Instead, White should have played 6 Bc4! as Dan indicated last month. After thoroughly examining 6...e6, I conclude that Black is probably managing a slightly worse but certainly dynamic game.

Modern Defence, 150 Attack 4 Be3 a6 5 Qd2 b5 [B06]

Where last month we saw Black playing a move order that enabled him to take the knight on h3, this month we see him try a much less successful attempt to avoid the standard ...Ngf6 setups in the 150 attack. I have previously been quite damning in my verdict on his 6.f3 Nd7 7.h4 h5 8.Nh3 Bb7:

There are a lot of subtleties to the move order White chooses from here on. I don’t necessarily agree with the one in the game, but it is definitely refreshing to see a 150 Attack where White pushes the f-pawn rather than the g-pawn to break through, and furthermore castles kingside instead of queenside! See the game Smirin, I-Bortnyk, O.

Modern Defence 2 h4!? [B06]

The inclusion of the moves 1...g6 2.h4 before the (not forced at all) central push 2...d5 brings us to a position where, obviously, only some of the nuances of the Scandinavian are applicable:

Since, in the game Akash, P- Gretarsson, H , White then played 3.e5 (a move which would never have been considered after 1.e4 d5!) we have the chance to go into just how Black should treat these Gurgenidze positions and, in particular, why it is an advantage to have the bishop on f8 rather than g7. The opening featured some instructive mistakes from both sides, which is almost to be expected given the unexplored nature of the territory right from the second move!

Caro-Kann Advance Variation, Short System 3...Bf5 4 Nf3 e6 5 Be2 Ne7 6 0-0 c5 7 Na3 [B12]

The next encounter was between an Indian prodigy and a Caro-Kann expert. The latter adopted a critical line against the Advance Variation, 3...Bf5 4 Nf3 e6 5 Be2 Ne7 6 0-0 c5. Now Gukesh played the rather tricky 7 Na3!? Nec6 8 c4. I’ve previously opined that the concrete 8...cxd4 is Black’s simplest solution. Indeed, I still support this view, although I’ve discovered some new tries for White so that readers for both colours can remain optimistic. Instead, the more complicated 8...Be4 9 Nb5 was played, after which Houska played the first new move for our site, 9...Nd7. After 10 Bg5 Black should have played 10...Qb6! with a balanced position. Instead 10...Qb8?! was played and Black lost quickly after 11 Rc1 (in fact, this isn’t the most accurate move, see my notes) 11...dxc4?:

Allowing 12 Nd2 Bd5 13 Bxc4. See my notes to the game Gukesh, D - Houska, J.

Caro-Kann, Short System 5...c5 6 0-0 Nc6 7 c3 [B12]

This game caught my attention because in my (DF) earlier analysis I had never been too worried about systems where White plays c3, or recaptures on d4 with the knight; and in this game she does both. However, it turns out that the position after 3...Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 c5 6.0-0 Nc6 7.c3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 is by no means simple for Black to play:

I would go so far as to say that White has a slight but stable edge in these positions, as long as they play sensibly once they get the bishop-pair. But what, then, is the correct answer for Black? Apparently, being keener to give the bishop-pair away and playing 7...Bg4 as covered in the archives! Later in the opening of Bodnaruk, A - Girya, O things went a bit wrong for White and I take the opportunity to explain just how Black should set up in these positions with a ...d4 break.

Caro-Kann Defence, Korchnoi's 4...Nf6 5 Nxf6+ exf6, 9...h5 10 0-0 [B15]

The next two games feature the main line of the Caro (perhaps an ironic name now considering 3 e5 is thought by many to be more critical) 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4. Now, in Xiong, J - Najer, E, we see the topical 4...Nf6 5 Nxf6+ exf6 6 c3 Bd6 7 Bd3 0-0 8 Qc2 Re8+ 9 Ne2 h5. Both a previous annotator and I have suggested the move 10 0-0 after which, the main line is 10...Nd7. In my notes to Black’s 10th move, I found some new ideas there, clearly inspired by Xiong’s play. In any case, Najer chose the inferior 10...Qc7 - new territory for us. Unfortunately, it is not a great move as the queen simply isn’t well placed there. After 11 h3 h4 12 Bd2 Nd7:

White began play towards the centre/queenside with 13 c4! Qd8 14 Rfe1 Nf8 15 Rad1 Bc7 16 d5! cxd5 17 cxd5 and he gained a clear advantage.

Caro-Kann, 4...Bf5 Main Line 10...e6 11 Bd2 Ngf6 12 0-0-0 Qc7 13 Ne4 [B19]

The last game takes us back to old times, as after 3 Nc3 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 the game Nakamura, H - Riazantsev, A featured the old main line 12...Qc7. It didn’t really work out well for Black, nevertheless, there are a couple new ideas which give him an interesting game. Play continued 13 Ne4 0-0-0 14 g3 and now the slightly offbeat, but quite well-known move (since the game Anand, V - Leitao, R) 14...Be7. White played a couple more natural moves: 15 Nxf6 Nxf6 16 Qe2 Rhe8 17 Kb1 and now I believe Black can try 17...Bd6 18 c4 e5!? rather than Riazantsev’s passive 17...Nd7?!:

The American number one went on to display a model game, efficiently generating an initiative with 18 Rhe1 Kb8 19 c4 Ka8 20 c5 Qc8 21 Qc4

Till next time! Justin and Dan

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