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Category – Semi Open Game

Opening Move Sequence – 1 e4 Nf6
ECO Codes – B02 and B05
Alekhine's Defense was first used by Alexander Alekhine in 1921 in a Budapest
tournament. It is usually classed among hypermodern openings that try to attack
the center with pieces after letting White establish one, under the logic that such
a pawn center is actually a weakness. Popularity of Alekhine's Defense has
fluctuated through the years and at present is not great. This should not be
confused with several variations named after Alekhine in other openings.
Alekhine's Defense falls under the category of Semi-open Game openings that
begin with 1 e4 without 1 ... e5. Alekhine's Defense has the ECO codes B02 to
B05.
Moves and Variations
1 e4 Nf6
This is usually followed by
2 e5 Nd5
Most variations then include 3 d4 which results on several variations depending
on Black's reply. 3 ... d6, 4 c4 Nb6, 5 f4 leads to Four Pawns Attack and 3 ...d6, 4
c4 Nb6, 5 exd6, to Exchange Variation. However the most popular is the Modern
Variation (3 ... d6, 4 Nf3). Rarer variations are 3...b5 (O'Sullivan's Gambit) and 3
...d6, 4 Bc4 (Balogh Variation).
Modern Variation
Aim is to gain a permanent small advantage in space instead of launching an
attack. Black reply 4 ... Bg4, (with 5 Be2 Bxf3), 4 ... g6, (intending Bg7
fianchetto), 4 ...dxe5 (Larsen Variation leads to 5 Nxe5 Nd7, 6 Nxf7!?) and 4...c6
(which is similar to Hedgehog Defense with strong defense). In most of these
variations move Bg4 later on transforms the game to variations starting 4 ... Bg4.

Four Pawns Attack
Four Pawns Attack gives white more attacking options. White will establish a
formidable center by gaining time attacking the Knight but must make use of it
before Black destroys it. Black must be on the look out for attacks from center.
The main reason why this dynamic variation is not popular is because it has been
extensively studied and Black players who are aware of the analysis can
successfully defend. The play will usually continue 5 ... dxe5, 6 fxe5 Nc6, 7 Be3
Bf5, 8 Nc3 e6, 9 Nf3. Alternative that can be tried is 5 ... g5!? (Planinc Variation)
aiming at 6 fxg5? dxe5.
Exchange Variation
This aims at gaining a small space advantage as in Modern variation. Black can
choose between 5 ... exd6, or 5 ... cxd6. And later play ... g6, ... Bg7, with ...
Bg4 to take advantage of weaker center.
Two Pawns Attack (or Lasker Attack)
This variation does not contain the 3 d4 move and continues 3 c4 Nb6, 4 c5.
White is more attacking here but has a weakness at d5. It offers good strategic
play.
Two Knights Variation
Another option for White without 3 d4, Two Knights Variation involves 3 Nc3.
White prefers quick development at the cost of doubled pawns after 3 ... Nxc3 (3
... e6 is another possibility here) 4.dxc3. In fact as in French Defense doubled
pawns will not be a great weakness for White. This variation however is very
passive in character.
Other deviations
White can change the second move as well.
2 Nc3 transforms to Vienna Game after 2 ...e5, or Pirc Defense after 2 ...d6 but
Black can select 2 ... d5 for more aggressive play. White can reply to 2 ...d5 with
3 e5. Black can then play 3 ... d4, 3...Nfd7, 3...Ne4!?, or 3...Ng8.
2 d3 is rare because it blocks the development of f1 Bishop. If the bishop is then
fianchettoed the game resembles King's Indian Attack.

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