June '01- What's New
For Alekhine's Defence exponents it must be an encouraging sign to see expert theoreticians such as Nick de Firmian take up the Black side. Not so encouraging was the fact that he lost game 1 (see Timman - de Firmian, JUN01/01) in a line that is supposed to be OK for Black but in fact may leave him with some problems. Two bishops are worth something in the endgame and a few canny exponents of the White pieces have cottoned on to this. Yaakov Murei is another player who has won similar endgames for White.
Actually it's quite unusual to face the 4 Pawns Attack these days. Most Whites want an easy to learn solution against an unfashionable defence such as the Alekhine; why waste valuable time studying an opening that you might only meet once or twice a year? So the main battle-ground is still taking place in the 4.Nf3 variations with games JUN01/02, JUN01/03, JUN01/04 and JUN01/05 illustrating one of Tony Miles' pets.
His 4...dxe5 5. Nxe5 c6 is actually quite an interesting idea; Black wants to challenge White's knight on e5 with ...Nd7 without having to worry about that nasty piece sac that occurs after 5...Nd7 (6.Nxf7!). Unlike the Kengis variation (5...g6) Black is not committed to a kingside fianchetto and the beauty for a Miles is that there's very little theory. No doubt Tony will switch to something else if 5...c6 gets too popular, wandering ever further into the wilderness of non-theory.
Anyone who is interested in what the future holds for Miles' opening repertoire might want to check out games JUN01/09 & JUN01/10. This eccentric defensive system, pioneered by the Belgian player De Bruycker, keeps the position closed and puts the emphasis on heavy middlegames in which White has more space. Besides Miles, Bent Larsen and Julian Hodgson have given it a try and a few other good players seem to have adopted it to the exclusion of everything else. At any rate it should be a good line to play against computers - no theory and stodgy positional manoeuvres.
In the last few months, Alex Volzhin and I have paid a lot of attention to the Advance Variation of the Caro-Kann, and in particular the line (3.e5) Bf5 4.Nc3. Games JUN01/06, JUN01/07 and JUN01/08 cover Karpov's latest attempt to get a playable middlegame for Black with ....a6. A complete answer? Frankly I doubt it. But it does avoid the dangers of some of the highly analysed 4...e6 5.g4 lines.
My apologies to readers who were waiting for coverage of the 150 Attack against the Pirc plus 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d5. I will definitely cover them in next month's update.