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September 2002 Update - 1 e4 ....

Focus on the Alekhine with GM Glenn Flear

Alekhine's Defence

Hi. I will be working in future for Chess Publishing, but on other openings, however I've been invited to be a guest writer this time around.

I've concentrated uniquely on the Alekhine as recent monthly reviews have been looking elsewhere. Of course in September Nigel Short played an unusual idea in the Alekhine against Kasparov and survived (easily and wasn't far from winning!) which more than justifies the subject matter!

All this month's new games are easily downloaded in PGN format using ChessPub.exe, but to download the September '02 1 e4 ... games directly in PGN form, click here: Download Games

Alekhine's Defence [B02-05]

In Game One, Nurkic again tries his patent 6 Qg4 idea, but Black's play constitutes a model-antidote and the Yugoslav will perhaps have second thoughts about venturing this queen sortie again.

In Game 2, Markotic illustrates another early queen outing 5 Qf3. This is really an attempt to get some life into an otherwise insipid line, the game and notes suggest that Black has adequate resources despite (unnecessarily) coming under pressure in the ending.

In Game 3 (theme of the month!?) another 5 Qf3 idea, but this one proves successful and should be watched closely. I recommend that Alekhine players meet 3 Nc3 with 3...Nxc3 rather than 3...e6.

Nigel Davies recently recommended that in the Exchange variation Black should recapture with the e-pawn. A view that I've also held until recently, but now I'm not so sure. The following game is a positional masterpiece where Timman is ground down by Naiditsch, furthermore things have proved less clear after 5...cxd6 (see game nine for further explanation!). So time to think again here!

In the next couple of games De Firmian and Rogulj answer the Four Pawns Attack with their own pet variations. I suppose it's a matter of taste to some extent but the traditional main line (9...Be7 et.) looks a better bet for Black than either of these approaches.

In game Seven, Kasparov was clearly unprepared for Nigel Short's Alekhine and was soon worse. Indeed Short even missed a (probable) win in the ending. An early 4...c6 or 5...c6 was a favourite of the late great Tony Miles,

an ironic choice from Nigel who perhaps owes "big Tone" (a pioneer in his approach to life and opening repertoire) more than he would perhaps like to admit.

In the 4...g6 line, Svidler-Akopian saw Black trying the slightly unusual 5...c6 (rather than 5...Nb6) and White avoiding the standard ...Bg4 pin with an early h2-h3. Despite this plan seeming slow White maintained an edge:

Nataf-Konopka followed some old analysis of Vaganian who helpfully concluded "unclear"!

Fedorowicz-Baburin follows some well-established theory where the books prefer White, but the experienced Russo-Irish Alekhine expert seemed to have little difficulty in nullifying White's edge.

So a number of ideas for Alekhine fans to get their teeth into. Any questions arising should be addressed to Chess Publishing where either myself or the permanent "1 e4 ..." expert will answer.