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Greetings folks. This month there were many interesting games and it was a bit hard to pick, but I decided to show you different openings played by players with high ratings. We have a Scandinavian where Black has showed an interesting idea to develop and get an equal game. Then different Caro-Kann systems where Black was doing okay in the opening overall. And a few Pircs where White was trying to get something but Black did well anyway. And finally one rare early blunder in Alekhine's Defence which White managed to capitalize on, even with some difficulties.

Download PGN of May ’24 1 e4 ... games

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Scandinavian Defence 3...Qa5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 c6 6.Bc4 Bf5 7.Bd2 [B01]

Dominguez, P - Radjabov, T was in one of the main lines of the Scandinavian Defence. However, Black went the side line with 9...Qxf6 which is supposed to be a bit risky:

Soon after this Black had his king in the centre after opting for 11... Be7 but it turned out to be good preparation as White could not find a way to create an attack. Slowly Black regrouped his pieces and the game headed for an endgame where a draw was agreed. An interesting idea for Black in the opening.

Alekhine’s Defence, Kengis Variation 4.Nf3 dxe5 5.Nxe5 g6 [B04]

Ansat, A - Ju, W featured the Kengis Variation in Alekhine’s Defence. White went for the line with 7.c5:

soon after Black started to play some odd moves leading to a blunder with 11...Nxc3. It's hard to see what Ju missed exactly as White emerged with an extra pawn and a better position. However, in the endgame Black managed to improve and at some point the game was close to being equal. However, another mistake allowed White to get some pressure and he managed to win it from there.

Pirc Defence 4.Be3 c6 5.Nf3 Qa5 [B08]

Narayanan, S - Ivanchuk, V started as a rare line in the Pirc where Black went for an early 5...Qa5:

That stopped White from castling queenside, as maybe he wanted to, and the game somehow later reverted into one of the main Classical lines. White followed a main idea by regrouping his knight by 8 Nd2 went into a well-known endgame after 13 Qd6. White had a small edge and it was a game with only two possible results. Black defended hard and even if White was trying to create play on both flanks in the end it was a draw.

Pirc Defence, Classical Variation with ...a6, 7.a4 Nc6 [B08]

Siddharth, J - Aravindh, C was also a Pirc and Black went for the system with 6...a6 and later he managed to get an outpost on b4 for his knight:

The game followed a natural pattern where White got some space but Black was keeping his knight safe and active. There could have been a draw by repetition but White decided to play on as he was getting some pressure with a pin on the black knight. It seemed Black was in trouble at some point, but he found a nice tactic with 22....Rxg5 and in the next 3 moves his knight went from a potential victim to win first a bishop and then even a queen and, of course, Black won.

Caro-Kann Defence, Endgame Offer with 3...g6 4.e5 [B10]

Praggnanandhaa, R - Erigaisi A was in the recently discovered endgame variation in the Caro-Kann where Black avoids exchanging queens and plays 3...g6. Black played a bit more actively than needed, maybe, and White managed to get some edge after 13 Qb3:

Later both players decided to give up an exchange, first Black, but then White gave it back to keep his advantage. Then White managed to win a pawn but Black got good counterplay and managed to hold a draw.

Caro-Kann Defence, Endgame Offer with 3...Qc7 4.Nc3 [B10]

Van Foreest, J - Erdogmus, K also featured the Endgame Variation with no endgame as Black went 3...Qc7:

Here White gets better development initially but Black then catches up as the game is fairly closed. Black slowly managed to create an initiative but made a wrong decision to trade his bishop with 21 ...Bh3. White then managed to take control of the light squares and after that he opened the game and won quickly.

Caro-Kann, Fantasy Variation- 3.f3 e6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Bd2 [B12]

Ter Sahakyan, S - Miladinovic, I was in the Fantasy Variation. White went for a rare plan with 5 Bd2 and soon castled queenside hoping to start an attack at the other wing:

Already on move 7 it was a new position and then Black managed to develop and also keep his king safe. In the middlegame the Black attack developed very fast and soon he was winning. Despite missing a few clear wins he still managed to keep some advantage and eventually he opened the white king up in the endgame, won material and then the game.

Caro-Kann, Advance Variation with 4.h4 h5 5.Bd3 [B12]

Our final game, Ter Sahakyan,S - Aryan, C, was in the Advance line of the Caro-Kann. White went for a quiet line where he traded the light-squared bishops and Black got a solid position. At some point Black traded his remaining bishop with 13...Bxc5 and his dark squares became a bit weak.

However, Black blocked the only open file and simply kept his king in the middle. Later, for more then 20 moves both players were shuffling their pieces around without any pawn moves and finally the game was drawn. I haven’t seen many games like this where they play quite so much and yet no draw is agreed.

Till next month, Marian

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