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Welcome back everyone.
This month I've tried to continue investigating lines that have been neglected previously. The Philidor is experiencing a renaissance and I've had a look at a couple of the critical lines, I've attempted to answer a reader's question in the Panov-Botvinnik, had another look at a critical Scandinavian line and examined various developments in the Caro-Kann.

Download PGN of January '11 1 e4 ... games

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Scandinavian Defence

We'll start with a look at the critical line 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.Be2 Nc6 5.d4 0-0-0 6.c4 Qf5 7.Be3 Bxf3 8.Bxf3 Nxd4 9.Bxd4 Qe6+ 10.Be2. I looked at this line back in June and considered 10...c5 critical. In Baron - Kurajica we saw a GM taking this on and soon the following crazy position was reached:

Black's king proving the safer.

Philidor's Defence

The Philidor has picked up quite a following recently. Malakhov - Khismatullin followed the mainline of the Nge2 variation and Svidler-Salgado Lopez (examined in the November update) until move 11 where the strong Russian came up with 11.b4!?:

Neiksans - Vachier Lagrave looks at the critical 4.f4 after 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7. Both sides weren't completely aware of the theory and Black should have been doing well but here he erred with 14...Nxd2?:

allowing White a strong counter.

Caro-Kann - Advance Variation

I haven't spent much time looking at 3...c5 and so have tried to remedy it in Berkes - Zelcic. Following 4.dxc5 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bg4 many commentators have been of the opinion that Black is already fine but 6.c3 has caused some problems. Black erred almost immediately and after 9.Qa4!:

White already had a clear advantage.

Moving onto the 3...Bf5 lines, this time I examine 4.h4 h5. Alekseev - Iturrizaga shows the Russian beating Venezuela's top GM rather easily. The position after 5.c4 e6 6.Nc3 Nd7 7.cxd5 cxd5 8.Bd3 Bd3 9.Qxd3 doesn't look like much:

but it has caused Black significant problems. I've examined Black's various options.

Panov-Botvinnik Attack

I was asked a question about the line 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 dxc4 7.d5:

Unfortunately I cannot now find the email but I've tried to cover all the relevant details in Vajda - Ringoir.

Classical Caro-Kann

Nigel Short has been playing a lot of obscure lines recently. In Adams - Short he tried another one with 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 g6 5.Ng5 Ngf6 6.Bd3 g6!?:

which worked out quite well and Black already had the easier game out of the opening. I've looked at the various alternatives to see the critical ideas.

I finish this month's update with a look at 4...Bf5 5.Nc5!? which has been seen somewhat neglected on this site. In Savchenko - Svetushkin, Black failed to deal with his opening problems and by 14.Rad1!:

White had a definite upper hand.

That's all for this month and I hope you enjoy looking over these games and good luck in your own games.

All the best, Gawain

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Please post you queries on the 1 e4 ... Forum, or subscribers can email me at