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Hello everyone and welcome to the 1.e4... December update. First of all Happy New Year and sorry for the delay in getting this online. I hope it proves worth waiting for. I'm aiming to get the January update to you in about a week.

Download PGN of December '09 1 e4 ... games

Scandinavian Defence

How do you beat a much higher rated opponent with Black? Of course there is no recipe that will bring consistent success, otherwise he wouldn't be much higher rated to start with. But the best chance is to play a sharp counterattacking variation that you know well. Even then the opponent will probably find his way through the complications, perhaps with the help of a novelty that he prepared before the game- knowledge is an essential part of playing strength these days. So besides playing in an adventurous style, you will also need to be favoured by an element you can't control- you have to catch your opponent on an off day. Let's see how the German IM Florian Grafl creates his own luck against a 2700 level opponent by employing a sharp variation of the Scandinavian, namely 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.Be2 Nc6 5.d4 0-0-0:

Here is the wild fight Bologan - Grafl.

By way of contrast, in our next game Black does himself no favours by adopting a rather dubious opening variation and then falling headlong into a trap. The position after 11 moves makes a nice 'White to play and win' puzzle:

You can find the solution in Friedel - Pechenkin.

Pirc/Modern Defence

The first two illustrative games feature the Classical Variation with White restraining Black's b7-b5 queenside expansion. After 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Nf3 c6 5.a4 Nf6 it is curious that a natural and direct attacking move such as 6.Bg5 might be imprecise because it commits the bishop too soon:

After all, it often pays to keep Black guessing where White's dark squared bishop is going to live. Once it lands on g5, Black can assail the d4 square knowing that it isn't going to be bolstered by Be3. Here to discuss this is the hard fought game Deepan Chakkravarthy-Akshayraj.

In the other game, White holds back on developing the bishop and manages to deploy it effectively to a3, after which Black responds with a thematic exchange sacrifice in Bernadskij - Onischuk.

Alexei Shirov makes short work of his opponent as White in the next game after 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 c5 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.e5 Ng4 8.Bxd7+ Qxd7 9.h3!?:

Previously on ChessPub we have examined the typical sequence 9.d5 dxe5 10.h3 when Black is able to keep White's centre to a moderate size with 10...e4! In contrast, 9.h3 allows White to keep the pawn on e5. You can see the dangers that Black faces in Shirov - Markowski.

Caro-Kann Defence

As Andrew Martin remarked a couple of years ago, the Caro-Kann mainline is getting as theoretical as the Sicilian Dragon. A well tested line is 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 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.Bf4 Qa5+ 12.Bd2 Bb4 13.c3 Be7 14.c4 Qc7 15.0-0-0 Ngf6 16.Rhe1:

Now 16...a5!? is a known move, but it is something new for this website, as previously the focus has been on 16...b5. One point of moving the rook's pawn is to ram it into a3, a plan that works brilliantly in Svetushkin - Berkes.

Alekhine's Defence

Lithuanian GM Eduardas Rozentalis seems to enjoy defending solid but cramped positions as Black. In this month's game we see him submit to a space deficit with 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Bc4 c6:

Not that Rozentalis is slumbering behind his solid defences: he is always tactically alert and ready to punish his opponent for overpressing, as in the brilliant game Zeberski - Rozentalis.

The variation 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 d6 5.exd6 is popular with players of White, presumably as a means to get a 'safe' space advantage without needing to know a lot of theory. But as we see in this month's game, Black can create complications - only he mustn't push too hard or it can rebound, as in MacKinnon - Kraai.

OK that's all for now. I hope you found the games interesting and maybe picked up some ideas. Good luck in your games!

Best Regards, Neil

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