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Modern defense with 2. h4, analysis very welcome!

  • #1

    I have been playing the Modern Defense as Black for a little while now, but this game got me into some very hot water with it. I eventually won a really engrossing game, but I feel like I really messed up the opening, and my play of the defense could be significantly improved. I'm really grateful for your thoughts? :)

  • #2

    Your best bet might have been 4. ... c6 followed by ... d5 at an appropriate moment. This would transpose to a known type of position in the Caro-Kann Advance Variation (in which Black does indeed play the move ... h5), but with White having made a number of rather unthematic moves.

  • #3

    Thanks, blueemu! I had a look at the moves you suggested and came up with this approach:

    Do you agree with the line here?

  • #4

    The proto-typical plan of development for Black in that "Caro-Kann with ... g6 and ... h5" line is to play ... c6 and ... d5 tempting the White e-Pawn forward to e5, then play ... Nh6 (instead of ... Nf6), bring your light-squared Bishop out to f5 or g4 and trade it off, then play ... Nf5 and ... e6.

    This places the majority of your Pawns on light squares, with your light-squared Bishop traded off so it won't be hampered by your Pawns. The Black Pawn on h5 serves to discourage White from kicking your Knight out of f5.

    In your game position, Black could reach this sort of formation, while White has wasted time with the rather inconsequential Nd5 and Nb4.

  • #5

    Okay, I see! Thank you, I'm going to spend some time with that. I've always shied away from putting my knight on the h-file until now.

    I understand that Nd5 and Nb4 were poor moves, but I was unsure of how to punish them when they arose. I feel more confident about that now, thanks!

    There's one thing I'm a bit confused about from your advice, if you don't mind me asking:

    blueemu wrote:
     The Black Pawn on h5 serves to discourage White from kicking your Knight out of f5.

    I don't understand why this is the case, unless for some reason White was planning to advance their g-pawn.

    Also, should I understand from what you've said that ...Bxe5 is unsound?

  • #6

    Yes, the advance of White's g-Pawn to g4 (kicking away your Nf5) is exactly what the Black Pawn on h5 is positioned to stop.

    I didn't like ... Bxe5, partly because it trades off your better Bishop. With so many Black Pawns sitting on light squares, your dark-squared Bishop is quite valuable.

  • #7

    Ah, okay. I had been confused hearing people talk about the better bishop, I didn't realise that's what it meant.

  • #8

    Yes, the relative value of each Bishop is usually determined by your own Pawns, especially center Pawns. A "good" Bishop will be able to patrol the squares left unguarded by your Pawn set-up. A "bad" Bishop is helpless to do that.

  • #9

    And in fact, ...Nf6 eventually can squeeze me towards trading that good Bishop, now I think about it.


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