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April 2001


Alekhine Defence


In the next couple of months I would like to address some readers' requests. This month we'll look at some unusual lines of the Caro-Kann and the 2 Nc3 variation of the Alekhine's Defence.

Best wishes

Nigel Davies

Caro - Kann Defence

The line 1 e4 c6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Qf3

has found favour with some strong players, such as the teenage Dreev. Having said that, Dreev also used to play 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Bb4?! at every opportunity... Before anyone asks, this is Paul Motwani's department.

The problem with moves like 3 Qf3 is that against sensible play they don't maintain the pressure. That's precisely what we see in Totsky - Burmakin APR01/01; 3 ...dxe4 4 Nxe4 Nd7 followed by 5 ...Ndf6! is an equaliser and also a likely reaction from Black if 3 Qf3 came as a surprise. The double-edged third move alternatives for Black are usually tried if he (thinks he) knows what he's doing. Frankly they're very risky and we see 3...e6 coming undone in Arapovic - Campora APR01/02.

Following up last month's coverage of 2 Nc3 d5 3 Nf3,

Boleslavsky - Makogonov APR01/03 and Boleslavsky - Flohr APR01/04 show a better method of playing White's pawn sac line than the 9 c3 of Nevednichy - Iordachescu MAR01/04. 9 c3 has been recommended by some sources but looks like a lame follow up to what is a very interesting gambit. If you want a line against the Caro, take note. The Two Knights has been out of fashion for years but because of that has far more surprise value than the currently popular Advance Variation with (1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5) 3 e5.

Talking of (1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5) 3 e5, the move 3 ...Na6?!

is something that I wouldn't recommend for Black unless he can see his opponent foaming at the mouth. The best that Black can hope for is to create a blocked position in which he's got less space, not the most attractive of prospects unless your opponent then impales himself on the ramparts.

As White I recommend copying Nunn's play in Nunn - Nikolac APR01/05 and Nunn - Arkell APR01/06; the Doc has spent plenty of time working out good lines for White so why reinvent the wheel?

Alekhine Defence

The main drawback of the 2 Nc3 variation of the Alekhine (1 e4 Nf6 2 Nc3)

is that Black can transpose into a Vienna with 2 ...e5. This has turned it into a no-go area for all but Vienna players, which also explains why there are so few GM games with it. Having said that, the two Vienna-wielding GMs that I know of (Balashov and Hector) both go 2 Nc3 against the Alekhine. Hector in particular has notched up tremendous results for White and his games bristle with new ideas. The games with Kengis APR01/07, van der Werf APR01/08, Maus APR01/09 and Sergeev APR01/10 show him disposing of some strong opposition.

Next time...

Next month I'll show you how to turn the currently popular Super-Dooper Center Counter Carnage (or whatever they're calling it these days) back into a rather passive, second rate defence. I'm sorry to say that it's about to go out of fashion again .... and PERMANENTLY. I'll also look at the Kengis Variation of the Alekhine, a fighting line against the dreaded 4 Nf3.


Alekhine Defence