[May 25, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Modern Bishop’s Opening

[Line 368 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3]

Black can transpose to the Italian Game with 4… Bc5, or he can opt for another popular variation by playing 4… Be7. White has a choice between several mostly interchangeable move orders, though his plan usually includes O-O, Re1 and either a2-a4 or c2-c3.

The main line goes 4… Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. Re1 d6 7. a4. Now the simplest way to handle the position with Black is 7… Be6 8. Nbd2 Qd7, while 7… Na5 8. Ba2 c5 9. c3 Nc6 presents a reasonable alternative.

The most aggressive choice for Black is 7… Kh8, with a rather straightforward plan: Ng8 and f7-f5. The exemplary line could be 8. a5 a6 9. c3 Ng8 10. d4 f5, with mutual chances.

[Diagram: Black to Move] L. Psakhis – V. Chekhov, Vilnius 1980. Black is exerting pressure on the kingside, but can he further improve upon it?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[May 24, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Lasker-Pelikan Variation – Sveshnikov Variation without 11. Bd3

[Line 435 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nd5 f5 without 11. Bd3]

Besides the main line 11. Bd3 (Line 436), White has other playable options at his disposal.

11. g3 fxe4 12. Bg2 Be6 13. Bxe4 is our recommendation for club level players, leading to a very solid setup for White.

A rather risky try 11. Nxb5 axb5 12. Bxb5 demands precise play from both sides.

The main alternative to 11. Bd3 is 11. c3 Bg7 12. exf5 Bxf5 13. Nc2 with the idea Nce3 followed by Bd3. Black can either play the prophylactic 13… Be6, planning to respond to 14. Nce3 with 14… Ne7, or he can proceed with his own piece development: 13… O-O 14. Nce3 Be6 15. Bd3 f5; in both cases, complex positions with mutual chances arise.

[Diagram: Black to Move] V. Anand – P. Lékó, Wijk aan Zee 2005. Anand’s last move was the careless Bb5-a6, completely missing his opponent’s reply. How did Lékó gain an almost decisive advantage?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[May 23, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense – Exchange Variation

[Line 322 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4]

Moves like 2… b6 or 2… c5 typically allow White to gain advantage quite easily so, on move two, the French Defense (2… d5) is the preference of most of the players of Black.

Advance Variation (3. e5) of the French Defense is covered in our Lines 323-324, Tarrasch Variation (3. Nd2) in Lines 325-330, and move 3. Nc3 in Lines 331-346.

Exchange Variation 3. exd5 is the simplest way to play against the French Defense, since it usually leads to quiet and symmetrical positions. Generally, after 3…exd5, there are two approaches that White can try – to play a straightforward plan by simply developing his kingside, e. i. 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Bd3 Be7 6. O-O, or a more committal c2-c4, which leads to positions with an isolated d-pawn for White, like in 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. c4 Be7 6. Nc3 O-O 7. cxd5 Nxd5.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White has just captured the Knight on c6, and Black needs to play energetically to hold the game. How can he reach an equal position?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[May 22, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Vadim Zvjaginsev:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Slav Defense – Stoltz Variation with 6… Bd6 7. Bd3

[Line 283 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. Bd3]

On the seventh move Black can try 7… e5, a sideline aiming to simplify the position at an early stage. After 7. cxd5 cxd5 White has a choice between 8. Nb5 and 8. e4, but either way Black should have sufficient resources to obtain equality.

Both sides usually castle first: 7… O-O 8. O-O, and here recently, on the highest level, the following direct approach has become quite popular: 8… e5 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. e4 exd4 11. Nxd5 Nxd5 12. exd5 h6. Though precise play is required from Black, the best that White can get is a slightly more pleasant endgame.

By far the most popular continuation is 8… dxc4 9. Bxc4, and apart from 9… a6 (Line 284) and 9… b5 (Line 285) Black has 9… e5 at his disposal. Since, in some lines, Black has the idea to play e5-e4, which usually results in exerting pressure on the h2-pawn, White’s frequent choice is to neutralize by playing 10. h3. After that, Black can slowly improve the position of his pieces with 10… Qe7, Bb8 (thinking about Nf3-h4-f5), h7-h6 and Rd8, preparing to meet e3-e4 by capturing on d4, followed by Ne5. As an illustration, take a look at the following line: 11. a3 Bb8 12. Ba2 h6 13. Nh4 Rd8 14. Nf5 Qe8, with mutual play.

[Diagram: White to Move] It appears that Black’s position should be fine, but White has a nice maneuver, which leads to his big advantage!

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[May 21, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Tarrasch Defense

[Line 063 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 without 3… dxc4, 3… c6, 3… Nf6]

Various Black’s third move choices are covered in other opening lines, and the topic of this line is theTarrasch Defense (3… c5). White’s usual reaction is 4. cxd5, and after 4… exd5 either 5. Nc3 with g2-g3, Bg2 and O-O, or immediate 5. g3, which often transposes to the same position.

White also has an interesting possibility to play 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. dxc5, where neither 6… Bxc5 nor 6… d4 7. Na4 Bxc5 give Black full equality.

After 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. g3 Nf6 7. Bg2 Be7 8. O-O O-O occurs the main tabiya of the Tarrasch Defense. For club level players we recommend the following sideline: 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. a3, with good prospects for White.

The main alternative is 9. Bg5, keeping the tension on the board, where Black has to choose among 9… cxd4, 9… c4 and 9… Be6. Either way, White has sufficient resources to claim the opening advantage.

[Diagram: White to Move] F. Marshall – Ed. Lasker, USA 1923. Black King is still in the center, and Marshall has made a full use of that fact and obtained a decisive attack. Can you see the right path to winning as White?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[May 20, 2018] Updated Opening Article by GM Vadim Zvjaginsev:
October 2014 Revisited: Semi-Slav, Stoltz Variation – Main Line with 9… b5

When we originally published GM Zvjaginsev’s opening survey in 2014, the key game was Giri’s powerful novelty that brought him a full point as White in the fourth game of his match against Shirov. The Candidates Tournament in Moscow (2016) gave him an opportunity to shine with opposite colors: Nakamura tried a new idea, but it turned out that Giri had already worked it all out at home – he calmly remembered his preparation, and the game soon ended in a perpetual check.

In the meantime, many theoretically relevant games from all sources (over-the-board, correspondence and engine games) have appeared. While our overall theoretical verdict remains the same, we still recommend careful study of the new additions, as some variations are extremely complex and difficult to play without thorough preparation.

[Diagram: Black to Move] It seems as if it is already curtains for Black in this position from a recent correspondence game, but it is his turn to move, and that gives him an opportunity to save the game.

Click here to see the article in our viewer…