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May 2002 Update - 1 e4 ....

Centre Counter 2...Qxd5

All this month's new games are easily downloaded in PGN format using ChessPub.exe, open ChessPub.exe, put the date on, say, 6th June 2002, and then click on '1 e4...', over on the right. All these games should appear (and the new ChessPub Guides, too)!

To download the May '02 1 e4 ... games directly in PGN form, click here: Download Games

Centre Counter 2...Qxd5


My recent discovery that the Scandinavian with 2...Qxd5 3.Nf3 g6! is OK for Black, brings this defence back into the frame. This month's update is intended to flesh out the treatment of 3.Nc3 by my predecessor, Alex Volzhin.

After 3...Qa5, the move 4.g3!? represents a much quieter way of playing this opening for White, aiming to complete his development and hopefully develop pressure on the h1-a8 diagonal. The position of Black's queen on a5 encourages an advance of White's b-pawn with gain of tempo, which can set up complimentary pressure on the b-file. Needless to say, queenside castling will be very risky for Black, as in Rozentalis - Milos. In Rozentalis - Khalifman Black wisely refrains from castling queenside but even here the pressure on the b-file proves to be unpleasant for him. Hansen's play is much better in Tiviakov - Hansen, but even here White could have maintained an edge with stronger play on move 16.

4.Nf3 is another interesting alternative. It will often transpose back into the main lines should White play a later d2-d4, but he can delay this move or even omit it altogether. In Chiburdanidze - Klaric we see Black pin the knight with 4...Bg4, but White uses this bishop move to develop his kingside in novel fashion.

With 4...Nf6 Black invites a transposition back into the main lines with 5.d4, but in Suetin - Steiner White lends the game an original flavour by playing 5.h3 and then 6.Bd3!?. Not the kind of chess we have come to expect from solid Russian grandmasters, but interesting nevertheless.

5.Bc4 continues to flirt with transposition into the main lines, and this could easily come about if White played a later d2-d4. The Rohde - Seirawan game sees White stubbornly refuse to do so, and this highly imaginative game is rich in combinative play.

In the main line with 4.d4 Nf6 5.Bc4 c6 6.Nf3 Bf5, 7.Bd2 is a popular alternative to 7.Ne5 and the complex positions which arise are similar to the Caro-Kann. 8.Ne4 (Votava - Mueller) is not the most challenging move and Black seems OK after both 8...Qd8 and 8...Qc7.

8.Qe2 is the most dangerous move with the clear intention of castling queenside. Black plays the ambitious 10...Nb6 in Chytelik - Konopka and later on allows his rook to be caged. In Brynell - Hodgson we see the solid 10...Bxc3, forcing White to accept doubled pawns on his queenside. This weakness is not a serious problem if he plays accurately and mass exchanges lead to a draw.

I must admit that I am suspicious about the merits of 3...Qd6 and Arakhamia - Mashinskaya may point to its potential vulnerability. 7.Bf4 offers a pawn for fast development and whilst Black has done OK so far, the position looks very dangerous to me.

Keep your questions coming in, I'll attempt to address the most popular issues.

Nigel Davies


Centre Counter 2...Qxd5