Andrews Alekhine

by ChessBase
9/14/2007 – Hardly any author in chess shows as much productivity and creativity as the English IM Andrew Martin. His new training DVD in the ChessBase video format is a course in the Alekhine Defence (1.e4 Nf6), making it an excellent repertoire DVD against 1.e4. Carsten Hansen has checked it intensively and found a sound mixture of proven lines and surprising ideas. Buy the DVD now or read this review.

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Andrew Martin: The ABC of Alekhine

Review by Carsten Hansen (

In the introduction, English international master Andrew Martin tells us that the repertoire he is about to suggest will be applicable for any player all the way up to grandmaster level. Well, no one is going to accuse him of being understated, but he does have several good ideas in side lines that have a decent reputation and don’t carry an enormous load of theory.

The material is divided as followings:

  • Intro
  • Inspiring Game 1 + 2 (2 segments)
  • Modern Variation: 5.Nxe5 c6 6.Bc4 Game 1 + 2 (2 segments)
  • Modern Variation: 6.Be2 (1 segment)
  • Modern Variation: 6.Bd3 and others (1 segment)
  • Four Pawns Attack 1 + 2 + Summary (3 segments)
  • Exchange Variation: Game 1-7 (7 segments)
  • Chase Variation Game 1 + 2 (2 segments)
  • 3.Nc3 Game 1 + 2 and Summary (2 segments)
  • Unusual Lines 1 + 2 (2 segments)
  • 2.Nc3 (1 segment)
  • Outro (1 segment)

Of course, the above doesn’t tell us much about Black’s opening choices. The most notable ones are:

a) 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 dxe5 5.Nxe5 c6. Martin calls this the Miles Variation in the introductory segment, but in the overview it is referred to as the Modern Variation. This has become a popular choice for black players who are not keen on playing the somewhat passive 4...Bg4 or 4...g6. 5...c6, intending 6...Nd7, makes perfect sense, mainly because the theory isn’t as well-developed as in the lines after 4.Nf3. It is also quite solid and therefore less likely that Black will stumble into some sort prepared wickedness. But the theoretical burden is as much on Black as on White, and studying it isn’t all that interesting.

b) 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4 dxe5 6.fxe5 c5 7.d5 g6!?. This is a rather rare move that I was not familiar with prior to this DVD.

c) 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.exd6 exd6. This is the most solid answer to the exchange variation, which is usually recommended in repertoire books for White in recent years.

d) 1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e5 d4. This continuation is pretty solid for Black, and it avoids some of the more common traps that White can set.

Martin gives a very decent presentation of the Four Pawns Attack, which left me wondering why this line isn’t played more frequently. However, he doesn’t mention perhaps the highest rated encounter in this variation, where White won an interesting game:

Sergei Movsesian (2624) - Zoltan Varga (2533) Extraliga 2005

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 d6 5.f4 dxe5 6.fxe5 c5 7.d5 g6 8.Bf4 Bg7 9.Nc3 0–0 10.Qd2 e6 11.0–0–0 exd5 12.cxd5 Bg4 13.Re1 c4 14.h3 Bf5 15.g4 Bd3 16.Bxd3 cxd3 17.Qxd3 Na6 18.d6 Rc8 19.Kb1


Martin only discusses 19...Nc4 20.Nd5 Qa5 21.Ne7+, but 21.Nf3 looks very good for White. Therefore, it would have made perfect sense for Martin to include the move played by the Hungarian grandmaster.

20.Qd1 Nc4 21.Rh2

21.Re4 is also possible, but my analysis indicates that Black should be more or less okay; for instance, 21...Nxb2! 22.Kxb2 Qb6, and White has to play very accurately to stay on his feet.

21...Qa5 22.Nf3 Rc5

Here Black can consider 22...Na3+!?, e.g. 23.bxa3 Rxc3 24.axb4 Qxb4+ 25.Rb2 Qxf4, and Black is probably okay.

23.Rhe2 h6 24.Nd4 Nd5 25.Ne4 Nxf4 26.Nb3 Qb4

Black can improve with 26...Rd5!? at this juncture, e.g. 27.Nxa5 Rxd1+ 28.Rxd1 Nxa5, and White’s advanced d-pawn compensates for Black’s slight material advantage.

27.Nexc5 Nxe2 28.Rxe2 Nxe5 29.Qd5 b6 30.Nd3 Nxd3 31.Qxd3 Rd8 32.d7 Qa4 33.Rd2 Qc6 34.Nc1 a5 35.Ne2 Kf8 36.Rd1 Be5 37.Qe3 Qb5 38.Nc3 Qc5 39.Qxh6+ Bg7 40.Qd2 Qc6 41.Qd3 Bf6 42.Ne4 Rxd7 43.Qxd7 Qxe4+ 44.Qd3 Qg2 45.Rd2 Qh1+ 46.Rd1 Qg2 47.Qb3 a4 48.Qxb6 Kg7 49.a3 Qxh3 50.Qb4 Qg2 51.Rc1 Qe2 52.Ka2 g5 53.Rc5 Kg6 54.Ra5 Bxb2 55.Qxb2 Qe6+ 56.Ka1 1–0

Buy it now.

Martin could also have been a more thorough in the 2.Nc3 d5 3.e5 d4 line, because he only discusses 4.exf6 for White, completely ignoring 4.Nce2, as played by numerous strong players, including former World Champion Mikhail Tal. It certainly represents more interesting play than the line Martin discusses.

That said, I found this DVD to be pretty good overall. Martin’s chosen lines are not likely to be refuted in the near future, and this DVD will probably only help to make them more popular. If you are interested in the Alekhine as Black, I can easily recommend this DVD as a starting point to explore these lines further.

My assessment of this DVD: Four out of five stars

Original review at


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