ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks

April 2002 Update - 1.e4....

Modern Defence

All this month's new games are easily downloaded in PGN format using ChessPub.exe, open ChessPub.exe, put the date on, say, 6th May 2002, and then click on '1 e4...', over on the right. All these games should appear (and the new ChessPub Guides, too)!

You can also enter the specific ECO code if you are only interested in a particular opening. To download the April '02 1 e4 ... games directly in PGN form, click here: Download Games

Modern Defence


Being the site editor and a long-time Modern Defence aficionado, I felt it would be remiss of me not to demonstrate a number of interesting and individual ideas in this opening which I have developed over my career. I believe they offer a different perspective on this opening to most of the available literature.

When I play the Modern I am not trying to close the game up. My aim is to counterattack right from the start without giving White a moment's peace. I almost never play ...c7-c6 as I want to either put my queen's knight on that square to play ...e7-e5 or play for ...c7-c5. And if I want to play ...b7-b5 I either prepare this with ...a7-a6 or just sacrifice the b-pawn to open lines.

Starting out with the so-called Averbakh system, in Polajzer - Davies 7...c5 steers the game into an unusual type of Czech Benoni in which Black hasn't blocked his f-pawn with ...Ng8-f6 and White's g2-g4 is arguably rather early. Searching for something different I came up with the 4...a6!? of Levitt - Davies, which carries provocation to the extreme and has a number of subtle effects. On the face of it Black is playing for ...b7-b5, but depending on White's reply he can also play in the centre. If White plays 4.Nf3 my method of counterattack is to pressure the knight with 4...Bg4 and then undermine d4 with 5...c5 (Mikhalevsky - Davies). All in aid of breaking open the h8-a1 diagonal.

The Austrian Attack (Baum - Davies) has always been one of Black's main worries. After an early career with 4...Nc6 I switched to a Pirc transposition (4...Nf6) before discovering 4...e6!?. The idea is to make f2-f4 look like a mistake because it blocks White's dark-squared bishop.

Against 4.Be3 I have played 4...a6 exclusively. The idea is that Black will expand on the queenside with ...b7-b5, ...Nb8-d7, and ...c5-c5 whilst leaving the king's knight at home to prevent Be3-h6. Many White's prefer to prevent this plan with 5.a4 (Manca - Davies), though this reduces White's options in that queenside castling is unlikely. 5.Qd2 is the consistent approach (Szalanczy-Davies) with White hoping to exploit his lead in development should Black proceed with the scheduled queenside advance. This tends to lead to razor sharp games, with Black often fulfilling his positional objectives but lagging behind in development. Not a line for the faint-hearted!

Against both 4.Nge2 and 4.g3 I like 4...Nc6. Godena - Davies was the game which brought me my second GM norm, needing a win at all costs I sharpened the play with 10...b5!?. Frois - Davies featured a similar concept under slightly less manic conditions. White castled kingside and fianchettoed his king's bishop. Making up the set is Gausel - Davies, though in this one White played 4.Bc4. Whilst he can certainly do better than this I don't believe this line is dangerous for Black.

In many ways the most difficult idea for Black to meet is if White plays an early c2-c3, firmly blocking my favourite diagonal. But here too Black is not without counterplay and in Waddingham - Davies White's individual pattern of development left him with a very precarious position.

Keep your questions coming in, I'll attempt to address the most popular issues.

Nigel Davies


Modern Defence