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After this month I'm going to focus on writing my next chess book, and so I'll be handing over the 1.e4 Others coverage to Grandmaster Gawain Jones. Thanks to everyone who contacted me during my time here, and let me wish all the subscribers best of luck with their chess!

Download PGN of January '10 1 e4 ... games

Scandinavian Defence

We'll start by looking at a forceful demolition of the shaky 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Nc6?! variation:

The most curious feature about the analysis is that it includes Kasparov missing the chance to win his opponent's queen after seven moves in a 1996 simul'. Or was he being merciful? There's certainly no mercy shown to Black whose attempt to free space for his queen is brutally punished in Strikovic - Larino Nieto.

In the second game it is Black who holds all the dynamic aces after 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 c6 6.Bd2 Bf5 7.Ne4 Qb6 8.Nxf6+ gxf6. The position is akin to the 5...gxf6 or Larsen-Bronstein system of the Caro-Kann, but is inferior for White due to reasons explained in Starostits - Hamdouchi.

Pirc/Modern Defence

After 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 d6 5.Bc4 Nf6 6.Bb3 0-0 7.0-0 Black has to make an important choice: either set up a centre on light squares with 7...d5 or put his pawns on dark squares after say 7...Bg4 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 e5. You can see what a player rated 2624 decided to do by clicking on Getz - Istratescu.

I should probably apologise for straying into Accelerated Dragon territory, but next I'd like to look at the double edged 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c5!?:

This is an opening favoured by the inventive Canadian IM Lawrence Day and more recently by the English FM Charlie Storey. White can keep it positional with 4.d5, transpose to the Sicilian mainline with 4.Nf3, or enter the life and death variation with 4.dxc5. If you choose your opponent carefully, he might not have a clue what to do in any of these lines. Here I focus on 4.dxc5 in Roberts - Storey.

Caro-Kann Defence

First up here is 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3:

The Fantasy Variation may appear to be primitive, but it is a direct affront to the Caro-Kann. After all, the whole idea of Black's opening is the immediate removal of a white pawn from the e4 square, and here White refuses to budge. The Swedish GM Ralf Akesson plays a beautiful positional game in response, and is only denied victory by a time trouble catastrophe [we've all been there, of course]. Here is Gorovykh - Akesson.

In the 2010 Corus 'B' tournament the Indian GM Harikrishna came up with a highly aggressive way of handling the 5.Ng5 mainline with Black, 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Ng5 Ngf6 6.Bd3 e6 7.N1f3 Bd6 8.Qe2 h6 9.Ne4 Nxe4 10.Qxe4 Qc7 11.0-0 b6 12.Qg4 Bb7!?:

Shades of the Poison Pawn Variation in the French Winawer. Black is willing to sacrifice his kingside pawns to open up lines of attack for his rooks. If this is an OK attempt by Black then why hasn't it been played before at top level? Perhaps the answer is that players who like crazy attacking games don't usually play the Caro-Kann! Of course, another factor that discourages research is that a computer program will tell you that Black is utterly lost after 12...Bb7. But for analysis of Black's spirited attempt check out Negi - Harikrishna.

In our last Caro-Kann game Black prefers the more solid 12...Kf8 [rather than 12...Bb7 above] with the continuation 13.b3 Bb7 14.Bb2 Nf6 15.Qh4 Nd5 16.g3. White's unusual combination of the moves Qh4/ g2-g3 encouraged Black to try his luck with 16...Nb4, whereupon he was hit with 17.Be2 Nxc2 18.d5 giving up the exchange and a pawn:

What to make of all this? Bluff or brilliance? Have a look at Bobras - Wojtaszek.

Alekhine's Defence

A very popular line for White against the Alekhine is 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.exd6 cxd6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Be3 Bg7 8.Rc1 0-0 9.b3. Here the usual 9...e5 is far too familiar to opponents, so I imagine that the sort of person who plays 1...Nf6 should despise it. Much more fighting and interesting is 9...Nc6, when after 10.d5 Ne5 11.Be2 f5 we have a pawn structure similar to a Leningrad Dutch mainline:

Perhaps it's because I'm embroiled in writing a book on the Dutch at the moment, but any structure in which White doesn't have a bishop on g2 is rather appealing to me- see if you agree by checking out Milliet - Mirzoev.

That's the end of the update. I hope you enjoyed it. I wish you success whether you are trying to defeat 1.e4 or prove that it wins by force!

Best Wishes, Neil

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