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Hi guys,
In this update, I look at all the latest updates from the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk. We did not see many non-Caro games in the first couple rounds, however of the ones that were of interest, a ‘hippopotamus’ did arise in a must-win game. Secondly, this month we welcome a new annotator to the team, Grandmaster Daniel Fernandez from England, who has a great deal of experience and expertise in our area, particularly in the Caro-Kann and Modern Defences. This month, he looks at three openings: the Alekhine, Modern and Caro-Kann.

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

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Alekhine’s, Voronezh Variation 4.exd6 cxd6 5.c4 Nb6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Be3 Bg7 8.Qd2 [B03]

The main feature of Alekhine games these days seems to be the ‘creative’ positions reached out of the opening. The last time it was seen on this page (in March) Black played an inventive sacrifice of the b6-knight. On this occasion it was White who left the main lines first with 8.Qd2, which I believe may well be as good as the more popular alternatives. Black reacted with the (by now) standard-looking sequence 8...Nc6 9.h3 d5 10.c5 e5:

This month’s game, Tazbir, M-Miton, K saw the knight on b6 getting taken as well, but not immediately: it went on a long adventure first, spending many moves trapped and ‘en prise’ on the opponent’s back rank!

Modern Defence, Austrian Attack 4.f4 a6 5.Nf3 b5 [B06]

The move-orders in this opening are always tricky to remember. It has generally been thought that Black should try and play ...Nd7, ...Bb7 and ...c5 as quickly as possible, but having analysed this opening a lot recently I arrived at a different opinion. This month’s game continued 6.Bd3 Nd7 7.e5 Bb7 8.Ng5!?:

which is an attempt to preserve White’s plus without allowing some annoying piece sacrifices. White loses some time with this knight foray, but in winning the time Black is also essentially forced to close the position. A standard position-type was reached in Zambrana, O- Cruz, C which I think can be quite difficult to play for Black. Meanwhile, in the early notes I recommend deviating with 7...Nh6 instead, delaying ...Bb7 for a few moves. I believe Black can also delay the ...c5 push for some time, playing it on move 9 in the line 7.e5 Nh6 8.a4 b4 9.Ne4 c5!?, and not at all in another line where Black instead sacrifices the b-pawn!

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

Continuing the theme from above, I investigate the nuances of the move-orders in another Modern line and reach a similar conclusion: Black should again keep his bishop on c8 for some time, and can also think about playing for breaks other than ...c5. Here, though, the reason for the first idea is much clearer: taking a knight which tries to use the h3-square to jump into its standard post on g5. That’s exactly what Black did after 6.h4 h5 7.f3 c6 8.Nh3 in Hecht, C- Mons, L. After the subsequent 8...Bxh3 9.Rxh3 Nd7:

we reach a position where the second idea became critical: Black had the flexibility to play for either ...e5 or ...c5. In the game he still chose ...c5 in the end, and won a rather messy and imbalanced game.

Modern Defence: ‘Hippopotamus’ [B06]

I’ve often wondered about the silly question: ‘what is the best way to deal with the ‘Hippopotamus’? The question is quite adequately answered in the game Maghsoodloo, P - Chigaev, M which started with 1 d4 g6 2 e4 Bg7 3 Nc3 d6 4 Nf3 e6 5 Be2 Nd7 6 Bf4 Ne7 7 Qd2 h6 8 h4 b6 9 0-0 Bb7 10 Rad1 a6 Black has completed his setup:

Firstly, a bit of context - why would a 2650 employ the Hippo in such a serious classical match? This was of course, the second game of round 1 in the World Cup and because Chigaev lost the first game, he was in a must-win situation. I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t regret his opening choice, however, as he quickly arrived at a much worse position. After 11 Rfe1 he chose a slow, baffling manoeuvre 11...Qb8? (instead I examine 11...Kf8?! and 11...Nf6 which is Black’s best try) 12 a4 Qa7 after which Maghsoodloo decided to take action with 13 e5! d5 14 Nh2!.

Caro-Kann Defence, Exchange Variation 2 Nf3 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 Ne5 Nf6 [B10]

The next World Cup encounter I analyse was an all-Russian one, between the ‘veteran’, Peter Svidler and the rising star, Andrey Esipenko. I’ve recently followed the latter’s Caro games with a great deal of respect as it’s clear he’s done his homework in all the lines. In the game, Svidler employed the direct 2 Nf3 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 Ne5. I’ve previously discussed this in Popov, I - Timerkhanov, A. In a sidenote, I mentioned 4...Nc6 5 d4 a6!? as a very reasonable alternative to the main line 4...Nf6 which occurred in both games. Svidler, P - Esipenko, A continued 5 d4 g6 6 Bd3 Bg7 7 0-0 0-0 8 c3 Nc6 9 Qe2 Nxe5 10 dxe5 Nd7 11 Bf4. Now I reiterate my recommendation of 11...f6!. Instead, Esipenko played the natural 11...Nc5 12 Rd1 Qb6 13 Be3 Qc7 14 f4 Nxd3 15 Rxd3 Rd8 16 Bd4:

At this point, I suggest he should have played the aggressive 16...Qc4!? 17 Qe3 Bf5 18 Rd1 Qb5 19 b3 a5 with counterplay. Esipenko chose the somewhat principled (principled in that Black often wants to generate a minority attack in these structures) 16...b5?! however it quickly became evident that his light-squared bishop would become doomed to passivity after the committal pawn thrust.

Caro-Kann, Two Knights Variation 3...Bg4 4 h3 Bxf3 5 Qxf3 e6 6 Be2 [B11]

If you play the Caro-Kann, then yet another Russian youngster to keep an eye out for is Daniil Yuffa who has arguably been the man of the show so far, scoring upsets against both David Navara and Luke McShane consecutively. I take a look at both his classical games as Black.

McShane, known in England for his attacking, dynamic style, opened with 1 e4 c6 2 Nf3 d5 3 Nc3. I’ve expressed my interest in this line as a less theoretical, yet still testing approach to the solid defence and I view 3...Bg4 4 h3 Bxf3 as Black’s most sturdy counter. The game continues 5 Qxf3 e6 6 Be2 Bc5 7 0-0 Nd7 and now the direct 8 Qg3. Unusually, Black’s bishop is forced to defend the g7-pawn anteriorly with 8...Bd4:

After 9 d3 Ne7 10 Bd1!? 0-0 11 Ne2 Bb6 12 c3 a tense middlegame took place upon the move 12...e5! See my notes to the game McShane, L - Yuffa, D.

Caro-Kann Advance, Short System 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 c5 6.Be3 Qb6 [B12]

This system is no stranger at all to our site. We’ve seen a variety of different approaches by White to play on in the position after 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.0-0 Qxb2 9.Qe1 cxd4 10.Bxd4 Nxd4 11.Nxd4 Bb4 12.Ndb5 Ba5 13.Rb1 Qxc2 14.Rb3 Ne7 15.Nd6+ Kf8 16.Nxb7 Bb6:

Almost none of these approaches resulted in an opening advantage for White though, which is why the game Jakovenko, D- Inarkiev, E attracted my attention. Black plays very natural moves and soon ends up in an awkward position where White gets one or even two rooks on the seventh. The cold light of day, however, reveals some improvements which mean that White’s new idea of playing Bf3 with the Black queen already out of place also isn’t quite enough for an edge. I’ve also investigated some of the details regarding one of White’s other tries in these positions, which is the enigmatic move Qa1!?, as well as trying to rationalise the subtleties of where and when Black pushes his h-pawn.

Caro-Kann, Advance Variation 3...Bf5 4 Nd2 e6 5 Nb3 c5 [B12]

Navara opted for a more theoretical line with 3 e5 Bf5 4 Nd2 e6 5 Nb3. I’ve discussed a few different remedies to this, 5...Nd7 being the main one. Yuffa goes for the most active reply, 5...c5 not fearing that he’s obliged to concede the bishop pair. Naturally, play continued 6 dxc5 Bxc5 7 Nxc5 Qa5+ 8 c3 Qxc5 9 Be3 Qc7 10 f4. This is one reason I would prefer to start with 5...Nd7 6 Nf3, as there, White does not have an option to play in this aggressive manner. In any case, it was instructive that Navara’s biggest problem was the lack of cover around his king, so there’s that argument for Yuffa’s approach too. After 10...Nc6 11 Nf3 Nge7 12 Be2 0-0 13 0-0 h6 Navara played the casual 14 Kh1:

It transpires that the king is no better placed here than on g1, in fact it could well be argued that it is misplaced in the corner. After 14...Be4 15 Nd2 Bh7 16 Nb3 Yuffa, with a space disadvantage, undertakes to swap some pieces with 16...Na5. At some point a tactical arose in which Black came out on top, see my notes to the game Navara, D - Yuffa, D.

Till next time! Justin and Dan

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