A Novel Idea in the Fantasy Variation

A Novel Idea in the Fantasy Variation

Most attacking players prefer to play 1.e4 openings. But there is always a solid defense that give them headaches. In case of e4-players, the annoying move is 1…c6, a.k.a. the Caro-Kann Defense.

Against this compact defense, we have already seen a beautiful display of GM Ian Nepomniachtchi in the Fantasy Variation. In this game, annotated by GM Joel Benjamin, White unleashes a strong novelty that crushed Black topical variation.

But there is a question to be answered: what to play against the main line?

GM Benjamin comes to the rescue again with another free preview of his modern classic A Decade of Benjamin. This time, former Women World Champion and actual #1 Hou Yifan plays the Fantasy Variation and applies a novel idea against the principal path. Fantasy Variation

After the moves 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 dxe4 4.fxe4 e5 5.Nf3 Bg4 everyone plays 6.Bc4, putting more pressure over the f7-pawn. But, as Benjamin clearly states, his pressure can be diminished with accurate play.

So, Hou plays the cunning 6.c3!, defending the d4-pawn and postponing the development of the Bf1.

The beauty of the line is that Black has to be careful to be move-ordered to a bad line of the 6.Bc4 variation, as White can always play this move!

For example, if 6…Nf6, then 7.Bc4 is strong (threatening 8.Bxf7+! and 9.Nxe5!, winning a bunch of pawns). Then 7…Nd7 simply loses after 8.Qb3, as Black can’t defend f7 accurately.

Black played 6…Nd7, after which Hou answered with 7.Bd3!, when the bishop is better developed defending the e4-pawn.

With this subtle move order, White simply won a tempo!

GM Joel Benjamin analyzes this variation exhaustively, coming up with a lot of suggestions for both sides using. And the conclusion is great news for 1.e4 players: White is at least OK (and even better in most variations!)

If you want to improve your play in every phase of the game, then check out the huge A Decade of Benjamin Mega Bundle and learn from the incredible analyses of GM Joel Benjamin!

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