NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[August 24, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
King’s Indian Defense, King’s Knight Variation

[Line 125 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3]

The King’s Knight Variation 3. Nf3 is often an introduction to the fianchetto lines of the Indian Defenses. After 3… Bg7, move 4. Nc3 transposes to Line 150, and against 4. g3 the most popular lines are examined elsewhere: the King’s Indian Defense 4… O-O in our Lines 126-130, the solid 4… c6 in Lines 131-132, and the  Gruenfeld Defense 4… d5 in Lines 133-135.

After 4… c5 White usually continues with 5. Bg2. Besides 5… cxd4, Black has an interesting sideline in 5… Qa5+, trying to disrupt White’s common setup. The logical follow-ups after the three most logical replies are: 6. Nc3 Ne4 7. Qd3 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Nc5, 6. Bd2 Qb6 7. dxc5 Qxc5 8. Qb3 Nc6 and 6. Qd2 Qxd2+ 7. Nbxd2 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Nc6. Regardless of the chosen variation, Black should have sufficient resources to get even positions. If White plays 5. d5, Black also has a promising option: 5… b5 6. cxb5 Qa5+ 7. Bd2 Qxb5.

Another possible setup for Black is the double fianchetto: 4… b6 5. Bg2 Bb7. Though White has a slight space advantage, it’s hard for him to gain a tangible plus.

[Diagram: White to Move] What is the best way for White to make use of the h-file and launch a decisive attack?

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NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[August 23, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Traditional Variation (incl. Capablanca-Duras Variation)

[Line 229 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 without 4. g3, 4. Nc3]

Apart from the two most popular moves: 4. Nc3 (Lines 243-285) and the Catalan Defense 4. g3 (Lines 230-242), White also has a few more options at his disposial.

One of them is 4. Bg5, often accompanied with Nbd2. After 4… dxc4 White can transpose to the Vienna Variation with 5. Nc3 or he can choose a sideline 5. Qa4+, where Black has a few paths to full equality, e.g. 5… Nbd7 6. e4 c6 7. Qxc4 h6 8. Bxf6 Qxf6. After 4… Bb4+ White can transpose to the Ragozin Variation with 5. Nc3, or he can go for 5. Nbd2, where the best response from Black is 5… dxc4. Another independent line is the Capablanca-Duras Variation 4… h6 5. Bxf6 Qxf6 where, again, Black should have no problems to reach good positions out of the opening.

The most solid variation for White is 4. e3, often followed by b2-b3, Bb2, Bd3 and O-O. Black can respond to that plan with many setups at his disposal. Symmetrical Tarash Defense (4… c5) usually leads to isolated d-pawn structures, for one of the sides. The other popular setup is a mixture of the Queen’s Indian and the Queen’s Gambit Declined, like after 4… Be7 5. b3 O-O 6. Bb2 b6 7. Bd3 Bb7, with even chances. Black can postpone c7-c5 until White completes his queen fianchetto: 4… Be7 5. b3 O-O 6. Bb2 c5, or he can opt for some of many other possibilities, like 4… Nbd7 or 4… Bd6.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black pieces are lacking coordination, but he only needs one move to reach a satisfactory position. What is the best way for White to seize the initiative?

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NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[August 22, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Slav Defense, Modern Line

[Line 072 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 e6 with 4. Qc2, 4. e3]

Line 072 deals with two popular choices for White in the Modern Line of the Slav Defense – 4. Qc2 and 4. e3.

The idea of 4. Qc2 is to keep the options open. If Black chooses 4… f5, which is one of the main ideas of c6-d5-e6 setup, White has a promising 5. Bf4 at his disposal. Black’s main preference is 4… Nf6, and only after 5. e3 Ne4, he can proceed with f7-f5, Bd6 and Nd7. If White goes for 5. Bg5, Black usually continues with 5… h6 6. Bh4 dxc4 7. Qxc4 b5 8. Qc2 Bb7, with mutually rich play. Advanced players often opt for 5. g3, where again 5… dxc4 6. Qxc4 b5 7. Qc2 Bb7 should be good for Black.

Against the other major line 4. e3, Black can make the aforementioned setup 4… Bd6, with f7-f5 and Nf6. The logical sequence of moves that may follow could be 5. Bd3 f5 6. O-O Nf6 7. b3 with the idea Ba3. Anyway, Black should be fine after 7… Qe7 8. Bb2 O-O 9. Qc1 b6 10. Ba3 c5.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Stella – M. Kravtsiv, Livigno 2012. After trading the queens 19. Qxa8 Rxa8, White can equalize by playing 20. Bd2. Is there something better that White can do in the diagrammed position?

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NEW UPDATED ARTICLE

[August 21, 2016] Updated Opening Article by GM Boris Avrukh:
May 2013/September 2015 Revisited: Slav Defense with 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5

This is the second updating of this line, which seems to offer the players of Black nice practical chances, in spite of the theoretical verdict, which is quite clear: White has the upper hand, but proving it requires extremely accurate play deep into the middlegame.

[Diagram: Black to Move] A. Kveynis  – D. Šolak, Reykjavik 2015. Black’s compensation for the sacrificed pawn is obvious, but can he push for more?

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NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[August 20, 2016] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Miscellaneous (incl. The Anglo-Dutch & Agincourt Defense)

[Line 002 : 1. c4 without 1… c5, 1… e5, 1… Nf6]

This update is a small tribute to our late colleague GM Dragan Paunović. In memory of our dear friend, our Editorial Board will continue updating his lines and articles.

There are litterally a dozen of popular choices for Black against 1. c4, and the most popular ones are covered in the following opening lines: 1… Nf6 in Lines 009-017, 1… e5 in Lines 005-008 and 1… c5 in Lines 003-004.

For the Queen’s Gambit Declined fans, the most natural choice against the English Opening is the Agincourt Defense 1… e6. If White replies with 2. g3 or 2. Nf3, usually a type of Catalan or Neo-Catalan Defense occurs, while after 2. d4 d5 or 2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 the game transposes to the Queen’s Gambit Declined. Sometimes after 2. Nc3 Black opts for a sort of Queen’s Indian Defense with 2… b6, and here, apart from a transposition to a variation of the English Defense with 3. d4, White also has an interesting possibility in 3. e4 Bb7 4. Nge2, followed by d2-d4.

The Anglo-Dutch 1… f5 is a preference of the Dutch Defense aficionados. Besides shifting to Dutch with 2. d4, White can postpone, or even completely avoid playing d2-d4, like in the following line 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 g6 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. d3, with the idea e2-e4.

Apart from the mentioned lines, Black also has the following options: 1… c6 (usually the preference of the Slav Defense players), 1… g6 or 1… d6, often transposing to some of the Indian Defenses, or 1… b6 with similar position like in the 1… e6 2. Nc3 b6 variation.

[Diagram: White to Move] L. Van Wely – J. Piket, Tilburg 1997. Black’s last move was careless c7-c5. How can White exploit his opponent’s mistake?

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NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[August 19, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Boris Avrukh:
Gruenfeld Defense, Accelerated Russian & Stockholm Variations

[Line 136 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 without 3… Bg7]

Line 136 covers various early sidelines of Gruenfeld Defense (3… d5), while the most frequent moves are examined in other opening lines: 4. cxd5 in Lines 139-145, 4. Nf3 in Lines 146-149 and 4. Bf4 in Line 138.

Stockholm Variation (4. Bg5) has gained considerable following in recent years. The most popular reply 4… Ne4 is covered in Line 137, and this line provides an answer what happens if Black sacrifices pawn with 4… Bg7 5. Bxf6 Bxf6 6. cxd5. The most solid continuation for Black is 6… c6, where Black gets decent prospects both after 7. e4 O-O 8. e5 Bg7 9. Bc4 b5 10. Bb3 b4 11. Ne2 cxd5 and 7. Rc1 O-O 8. dxc6 Qxd4 9. Qxd4 Bxd4. There is even a sharper approach for Black in this line: 6… c5 !?, which has recently been tested by several top level players, like Vachier-Lagrave, Topalov, Grischuk and Radjabov.

The Accelerated Russian (4. Qb3) is another important line covered here. After 4… dxc4 5. Qxc4 Bg7, apart from the transposition to the Russian Variation with 6. Nf3, White can immediately occupy the center with 6. e4 O-O 7. Be2, and again, just like in the Russian Variation, the most common responses are 7… a6, 7… Na6 and 7… Nc6.

From other possibilities for players of White, 4. Qa4+ Bd7 5. Qb3, leads to atypical positions for the Gruenfeld Defense.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White is threatening to take the Knight on f6, to be followed by check on c7. However, White’s kingside is undeveloped, and Black can make an immediate use of that fact. What is the best way for him to continue?

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