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The lines in the Scandinavian and Modern examined this month aren't yet smothered in theory. As we shall see, the rewards for doing something different can be spectacular, as even the best players often go wrong when confronted with unusual ideas. Of course, if you are Caruana you can play straight down a mainline and find something new (see the Caro-Kann section)!

Download PGN of September '14 1 e4 ... games

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Scandinavian 3.Nc3 Qd6 [B01]

More stunning results for Black in unexplored variations

In the two games given this month Black combines his early queen foray with a quick fianchetto on g7. He has the kind of success Black enjoyed in the King's Indian Defence before White learnt how to handle it properly. In the first example, White is cajoled into castling queenside by the opening line 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 g6 6. Bg7 7.Bg2 Qa6!?:

The black queen prevents 8.0-0. Wei Yi duly responded with an ultra aggressive set up with queenside castling (when you're 15 years old and rated 2645 I guess you are pretty fearless!). You can see the spectacular outcome in Wei Yi-Miroshnichenko.

In our second game, Black played even more provocatively by delaying Nf6 in favour of an immediate 4.d4 g6!? Once again White was tempted into castling queenside after 5.Nb5 Qb6 6.Bf4 Na6 7.Qe2 Bg7 8.0-0-0. You can see his downfall in Hansen - Spraggett.

Alekhine 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 dxe5 5.Nxe5 c6 [B04]

A tough nut to crack

With the moves 4...dxe5 and 5...c6 Black has eliminated the white e5 pawn and strengthened his control of the d5 square. White keeps a space advantage but the black position is a tough nut to crack. Here we continue the theme of a quick fianchetto by Black with 6.Be2 g6 7.0-0 Bg7:

Black prepares to put pressure against White's remaining centre pawn. White is outplayed in instructive style in Francisco - Zherebukh.

Modern Defence 3.Nc3 d6 4.Be3 a6 [B06]

Classical versus Hypermodern play

After 5.Qd2 b5 6.0-0-0 we see a clash of chess philosophies.

White puts pawns on e4 and d4, develops in direct style, castles queenside and tries to punish Black for his lackadaisical development and his multiple pawn moves. Of course a Modern or Pirc player is going to love Black's set up but fast development and seizing space is not to be laughed at. In this month's game Black triumphs after a tough fight in Gopal - Petrosian.

Modern Defence 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bg5 [B06]

It's important to be consistent!

It's OK to be a Classical player or a Hypermodern player, but mixing the two approaches at the wrong moment can be catastrophic. In our next game Black played 4...Nd7 5.Qd2 c6 6.f4 b5 7.Nf3. This is all in impeccable Modern style, but then he switched to a 'development at all cost's approach with 7...Ngf6? 8.Bd3 0-0?! which asks to be punished with 9.e5!:

Things got very grim for Black in the illustrative game, but fortunately for him there was a happy ending in Filippov - Benidze.

Caro-Kann Two Knights 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 a6 [B11]

Don't play 3...a6 if you want an open battle in the centre

The little move 3...a6 is useful as it prevents a future Bb5+ by White in the event of a pawn exchange on d5. On the other hand Black is falling behind in development so he has to play with care. A failure to keep lines closed brought a huge attack down on his head in Vazquez - Hamitevici.

Caro-Kann Two Knights 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 Bg4 [B11]

The e5 square versus the d4 square

Here in the Two Knight's mainline after 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 Nf6 Grandmaster Dubov has tried the unusual move 6.e5!? with play continuing 6....Nfd7 7.Qg3 e6 8.Be2 c5:

White focuses on the kingside by seizing a space advantage. On the other hand he has neglected the important d4 square. This imbalance leads to an exciting fight in Dubov - Ding-Liren

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

Mindboggling complications

Of course we can't ignore Caruana's fantastic win against Vachier Lagrave on the way to getting 8.5/10 at the 2014 Sinquefield Cup. A very sharp and topical position was reached after 6.Be3 Qb6 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.0-0 Qxb2 9.Qe1 cxd4 10.Bxd4 Nxd4 11.Nxd4 Bb4 12.Ndb5 Ba5 13.Rb1 Qxc2:

And here the current World Number Two came up with the idea of 14.Rc1 Qb2 15.g4! The computers are deeply unenthusiastic about 15.g4, which is why this was such a deadly piece of home preparation. Black players hadn't bothered looking too deeply at it, if at all.

The complications go on and on in this variation- even the endgames are imbalanced. Here is the astoundingly complex Caruana - Vachier Lagrave.

Caro-Kann Panov-Botvinnik 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 [B13]

Sometimes ugly moves are the best

Here after 6.Bg5 the reply 6...Ne4!? is a new move on ChessPub:

Black counterattacks against the white bishop, leading to a very sharp skirmish in the centre. He has to make some ugly moves, like ...f7-f6, but his dynamism means that all the variations look at least equal or good for Black in Sulskis - Kovalenko.

That's all for this month. I hope you enjoyed the update. Good luck with your chess!

Best Wishes, Neil.

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