The chase variation of the Alekhine’s Defense is pretty common. Black allows white to get some central pawns rolling with tempo and in exchange, he gets some piece activity and maybe, if white oversteps, a great center himself.
The main line goes like this:
1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. c4 Nb6 4. d4 d6
Although Nf6 may seem a little weird and awkward, the moves following it are very natural. 4...d6 is absolutely necessary because the goal is to allow white a center and then attack it and break it down. This type of thinking is called hypermodern chess.
There are any number of ways for white to play for move five and trust me, all sorts of interesting things have been tried. One is 5. f4, which turns the opening into the Four Pawns Attack. We’ll look at that one in a future installment.
The Alekhine is a very tricky and sharp defense for black. The point of this article is not to go into a hundred sub-variations, but to give the main idea and the moves that are most often played. Although the Alekhine’s Defense isn’t hugely popular, it is played at high levels from time to time.
Another popular idea is for white not to chase the knight on f6 and instead, play something stubborn like Nc3. There, I recommend playing d5! The idea is to constantly chip away at white’s central pawns. This variation commonly leads to a French type setup, and we’ll probably look at that in a future article, as well.
One aspect I like about the Alekhine’s Defense is that it’s sort of flexible. If white takes on d6, black can recapture with either the e or the c pawn, depending on what type positions he’s more comfortable in. Many, like myself, love the open c-file. Also, black can usually play g6 and fianchetto the bishop along that deadly black diagonal if he wishes.
The thing about the Alekhine’s Defense is that you have to know the lines as black. Otherwise, white has many tricks up his sleeve to win pieces, pawns, space, and the game. IM Andrew Martin put out a great video series available through ChessBase that comes highly recommended by the author if you are interested in the Alekhine. By the end of the DVD, you’ll definitely be an old pro.
The opening is fun and challenging and can really catch white off guard if he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Fire up your favorite database and check out some Alekhine’s Defense games to see if you like the idea of not at all knowing what is going to happen, almost from get go.
Good games, all!