1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 [Alternatively 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4 is the Four Pawns Attack which was at one time thought to almost refute this opening. In reality, however, it plays into the basic idea of the Alekhines Defence namely encouraging White to over-extend his centre and make it liable to a strong counter-attack. 5...dxe5 6.fxe5 Nc6 is the older main line (but Black may also play the interesting 6...g6 7.Nc3 Bg7 8.Nf3 Bg4 9.c5 Nc8 10.Be3 0-0 11.Be2 e6 12.Qd2 Nc6 13.0-0 N8e7 Donnelly-Ireland, Coventry League 2004.) 7.Be3 Bf5 8.Nc3 e6 9.Nf3 Be7 10.Be2 0-0 11.0-0 f6 as has occurred in numerous games such as Svidler-Baburin, Bunratty Masters 2008. In both cases Black has held back the White centre and obtained a decent game.]
4...Bg4 This is perhaps the most solid Black response to White's set up involving Nf3/Be2-the so-called Classical variation (or at the time the game was played the Modern variation). This system was generally regarded as more difficult to meet than other lines. This is a trend which has held to the present day with this line being the most popular White choice by some margin. The move 4...Bg4 was virtually the main line in the 1970s but shortly afterwards, and especially in more recent years, Black players have explored a wide range of other lines aiming to unbalance the game more than often occurs in the Classical variaiton. These include [The highly provocative 4...Nc6 5.c4 Nb6 6.e6 with enormous complications-Ponomariov-Ivanchuk, FIDE W-ch KO , Moscow 2002.; The early exchange 4...dxe5 which can after 5.Nxe5 c6 give the Miles variation eg (or the Kengis variation with 5...g6 ) 6.Be2 Bf5 7.0-0 Nd7 8.Nf3 h6 9.c4 N5f6 10.Nc3 e6 11.d5 Bc5 12.Nd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 e5 14.Qe3 cxd5 15.cxd5 0-0 16.Rd1 a6 17.d6 Asquith-Donnelly, Slade Milan Memorial ICCF 2008.; 4...g6 the Alburt variation 5.Bc4 (5.c4 Nb6 6.exd6 cxd6 7.Nc3 doing without h3 (7.h3 play transposes to the exchange variation 7...Bg7 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0 Nc6 10.Nc3 Bf5 11.Be3 d5 12.c5 Nc4 Americo de Pavia Moreira-Donnelly, John Jordan Memorial ICCF 2004.) 7...Bg7 8.Be3 0-0 9.Be2 Nc6 10.b3 d5 11.c5 Nd7 12.Rc1 Nxc5 13.dxc5 d4 Tiviakov-Sergeev, Warsaw AIG Life Rapid 2009.) 5...Nb6 (5...c6 6.0-0 dxe5 7.Nxe5 Bg7 transposes to the Kengis variation 8.Re1 0-0 9.Bb3 Nd7 (9...a5 10.a4 Be6 11.c3 Qc7 12.Nd3 Nd7 13.Nd2 Anderson-Donnelly, John Jordan Memorial ICCF 2004.) 10.Nf3 N7f6 11.c4 Nc7 12.h3 Kasparov-Adams, Linares 1997.) 6.Bb3 Bg7 7.Nbd2 0-0 8.h3 Spassky-Ficher, W-ch 1972.; and finally the curious but playable Alburt line where Black retreats the knight without c4 being played eg 4...Nb6 5.Be2 (or 5.a4 a5 6.Nc3 Bg4 7.h3 Bh5 8.e6 Christiansen-Alburt, USA ch 1981.) 5...Nc6 6.0-0 g6 Carlson-Nakamura, Chess.com Blitz final 2016.]
5.Be2 e6 6.0-0 Be7 7.c4 Nb6 8.exd6 cxd6 9.Nc3 0-0 10.Be3 [10.b3 is almost as popular for White here.]
10...Nc6?! Probably not the most accurate move in this opening sequence as it risks White playing d5 at some point. [10...d5 with, or without, the insertion of h3 and Bh5, gives Black an easier game.]
11.b3 [11.d5 immediately doesn't really trouble Black eg 11...exd5 12.Nxd5 Nxd5 13.cxd5 (13.Qxd5 Bf6 gives Black sufficient play, one example being Borriss-Baburin, Berliner Sommer 1992) 13...Bxf3 14.Bxf3 Ne5 15.Be2 f5 Leko-Yussopov, Dortmund 1994.]
11...Rc8 The first of several inefficient moves which wastes time. The move is not a blunder but leaves White somewhat better as the rook does not fulfill an optimal role in attacking c4. [Instead the thematic 11...d5 is correct although theory in the 1970s suggested the move gives White a good advantage. In fact White is just a little better after 12.c5 Nd7 (or the other retreat 12...Nc8 Hunt-Gormally, 4NCL 2011.) 13.b4 Tal-Vasiukov, URS ch final 1967.; 11...Bf6 also gives Black a decent game as, for example, after 12.Ne4 Be7 13.d5 exd5 14.cxd5 Nb4 Tal-Bagirov, Spartakiad Moscow 1979.; 11...e5 on the other hand is clearly better for White after 12.d5 Nb8 13.Nd2 Milic-Vidmar, Llubljana 1945.]
12.Rc1 [12.d5 is also not decisive here as following 12...exd5 13.Bxb6 (13.Nxd5 Nxd5 Urh-Breznyan, W-ch Girls U-10 ch Maribor 2012.) 13...axb6 (13...Qxb6 14.Nxd5 Qd8 15.Nxe7+ Qxe7!? (15...Nxe7+/- Mauro-Utili, ITA Lupiae corr 1980.) ) 14.Nxd5 Bf6 Black's game is satisfactory in each case.]
12...Na5? Intensifying the pressure on c4 so White does not get the chance to play the thematic b4 that occurs often in this line. However the move is a serious error as the knight could become stranded offside. [12...Bf6 is a better option 13.h3 Bxf3 14.Bxf3 d5 15.c5 Nd7 16.Nb5 b6 Duarte-Pertuzatti, San Paulo 2009.; but not the voluntary retreat 12...Nd7 13.d5 exd5 14.cxd5 (14.Nxd5+/- ) 14...Bxf3 15.Bxf3 Nce5 16.Be2+/= Renna-Zardus, Long Island 1990.; 12...d5 is again correct since after the inclusion of the moves Rc8/Rc1 the usual line 13.c5 Nd7 14.b4 Nxb4 15.Rb1 Nc6 16.Rxb7 is still playable for Black.]
13.Qd2 Good but even stronger was [13.d5 exd5 14.cxd5 and the Na5 is in trouble, for instance, 14...a6 15.Qd2 Nd7 16.Nd4 Bxe2 17.Ncxe2 b5 (17...Rxc1 18.Rxc1 b6 19.b4 Nb7 20.Nc6 Qe8 21.Qd3 and Black loses material.) 18.Rxc8 Qxc8 19.Qxa5 ]
13...Nc6? Safeguarding the knight but losing time. Yet again [13...d5 14.c5 Nd7+/= is the best option with a much more playable game.]
14.d5 Now this is strong Black having wasted so much time.
14...Bxf3 [14...exd5 is more hopeful although White has more space and a better pawn structure after 15.Bxb6 Qxb6 16.Nxd5 Qd8 17.Nd4 ]
15.Bxf3 Ne5 16.Be4 exd5 [16...f5 just creates weaknesses as f4 is not a real threat as White has Bd4 or Bxb6 available, 17.Bb1 exd5 18.Nxd5 and the d6 pawn is likely to fall soon after White plays Rfd1.]
17.Bxb6 Qxb6 [17...axb6 18.Nxd5 again leaves Black with weaknesses but gives some hope of defending. Now Black is struggling to hold the game.]
18.Nxd5 Qd8 19.f4 [19.Rce1 is also good with increasing pressure on the Be7.]
19...Nc6 20.Rcd1 [White has a very good game as shown by the fact he has other strong lines available such as 20.Qd3 g6 21.f5 ; and 20.b4 Re8 21.b5 Nb8 ]
20...Re8 21.Bb1 Bf8 With a dual idea in mind but too defensive. [The more active 21...Bf6 is a better option.]
22.Qc3 A very strong move missed by Black.
22...Qh4? Temporarily defending h7 and tempting White to place a rook on h3 which was judged to then to be offside. However, the move is another serious waste of time. [Note the main idea of Bf8 has been emphatically prevented as rapid loss of material results from 22...g6 after 23.Nf6+ Kh8 24.Nxe8+ Kg8 25.Nf6+ Kg7 26.Ne4+ ]
23.Rd3 bringing the rook into the attack with gain of tempo is decisive.
23...h6 The other part of Black's idea associated with Bf8 was to provide a strong point for defence of the kings-side on h6 to hold everything but....
24.Rh3 Qd8 25.Rxh6 Crushing.
25...gxh6 [25...Ne5 fails to 26.Rh8+ Kxh8 27.Qh3+ Kg8 28.Qh7# ]
26.Nf6+ Kh8 27.Qd3 Kg7 [27...Qb6+ does nothing to help Black after 28.Kh1 ]
28.Nh5+ [After 28.Nh5+ its mate next move 28...Kg8 (28...Kh8 29.Qh7# ) 29.Qh7# ; 28.Qh7+ would instead have been a dreadfull blunder from White since after 28...Kxf6 29.Qf5+ Ke7 30.Re1+ Ne5 31.fxe5 Qb6+ the Black king escapes and Black remains a rook up.] 1-0