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I'm going to look at some Caro-Kanns and Modern Defences this month. As I mentioned in the previous column, a new book Play the Caro-Kann, A Complete Repertoire against 1 e4 by Jovanka Houska has been published, which attempts to patch up loose points for Black and seems to succeed. Since I skipped the Caro-Kann last month, I'll begin to broaden its treatment this time.
Tiger Persson's Modern Defence with ...a6 continues to receive attention. It runs into a few bumpy spots in this month's batch, yet I think the system hangs in theoretically with proper play.

Download PGN of May '07 1 e4 ... games

Caro-Kann Defence

As far as I can see there haven't been many games with 1 e4 c6 2 d3 in the Archives. Quite a few good players have employed it, so let's look at two examples of how you might meet it as Black.

For example, a pair of 2600+ GMs are involved in Tiviakov - Mchedlishvili, Dresden 2007. The fact that the heavily theoretical Tiviakov tries 2 d3 may indicate that the Caro-Kann is in decent shape at the moment.

This position after 10...e5 is a pretty standard King's Indian Attack with equal chances.

Strikovic - Gagunashvili, Benidorn 2007 is an example of a ...g6 setup that is considered safe and sound.

Here we've reached a Classical g3 King's Indian Reversed. White doesn't get anything, and one wonders whether he would do better without an early c3.


The main lines of the Caro-Kann with 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Bf5 are holding up well for Black, as we'll see in a forthcoming update. But that tends to be a back-and-forth proposition, as does 4...Nd7. This month we find the latter move having a few problems in Al Modiahki-Sundararajan, Dubai 2007.

This is a known position that suddenly looks problematic and seems to force Black to reconsider his strategy. Although the second player wins, the result doesn't correlate with the opening.


Finally, some 3 e5 games. I still think that this is the biggest threat to equality for Black, and a lot of top players seem to agree. This month we look at the funny move 4 Nd2 after 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 Bf5:

This is another one of those irritating little 4th moves that White has been fooling around with a lot recently. The idea is for the knight to go to b3 and discourage ...c5. White has also played 4 Nf3, 4 g4, 4 h4, 4 Be3, 4 c4, 4 c3 and 4 Ne2 ! And others?

We start out with the high-flying crowd, Rublevsky (2680) as White versus Morozevich (2762) as Black in Sochi 2007.

Here White has gotten a lot of pressure, as moves like Qg3 and c4 are in the air. It took a rash decision by White to turn the tide in Black's favour, see Game 9.

In Bezgodov - Galkin, Sochi 2007, White is better through most of the game, even though Black missed some good chances. But White has pleasant options early on.

A better solution for Black was seen in Zhigalko - Mchedlishvili, Dresden 2007. The nice thing about the 4 Nd2 variation (and 3 e5 as a whole) is how many choices both sides have from the very early moves onward.

Possibly White has a little something here, possibly not even that. He definitely had the advantage near the end of the game, but a draw resulted.

Modern Defence

Azmaiparashvili, a 2630 player, gets thrashed by lower-rated opponents when he plays the Modern with ...a6, but to be fair to Tiger's baby, he really fails to understand the required timing and move orders.

In this position from Slobodjan - Azmaiparashvili, Dresden 2007, Black carelessly ignores his development and has just weakened his kingside by 8...h5?:

White is not slow to exploit this.

Frolyanov - Azmaiparashvili, Dresden 2007 goes even worse for Black, who already stands badly when he makes a simple miscalculation. Still, the opening setup is full of interesting ideas.

Here is a position from analysis that typifies Tiger's Modern. It's very important to know some precise early move orders before going creative!

It gets worse. In Cheparinov - Sakaev, Dresden 2007, the 2646 beats the 2633 in 16 moves! Or 12, really. if you count fairly.

Sakaev misses the threat here, not once, but twice!

Here's one for the guys in Black.

This is more like it! Black's pieces bear down on the key central squares. In Kulicov - Gelashvili, Dubai 2007, White was soon totally tied up.

I'll try to expand the scope of this column slowly as we move along, placing the infrequently-played moves and little-known options alongside the main lines.

Till next month, John

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