[October 25, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Vadim Zvjaginsev:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Kasparov Variation (incl. Botvinnik Variation)

[Line 203 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. Nc3 without 4… Bb4]

Initial position of the Line 203 is known as the Kasparov Variation of the Queen’s Indian Defense.

Apart from 4… Bb4, covered in our Lines 204-205, Black’s alternative way to stop e2-e4 is 4… Bb7. When White proceeds following the same idea with 5. Bg5 after 5… h6 6. Bh4 g5 7. Bg3 Nh5 occurs the Botvinnik Variation.

More popular continuation is 5… h6 6. Bh4 Be7. If White now opts for 7. Qc2, his opponent obtains equal chances with 7… c5, since White is unable to seize the space with d4-d5. On the other hand, after 7. e3 O-O 8. Be2 or 7. e3 O-O 8. Bd3 Black has no problems if he reacts either with c7-c5 or d7-d5.

Among other options on move five, White has at his disposal 5. a3 (transposing to Line 208), 5. e3 (Line 202) and 5. g3 Bb4 6. Bd2

[Diagram: White to Move] White pawn on c7 does look threatening, but how can he make something concrete out of it?

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[October 24, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
King’s Indian Defense, Aronin-Taimanov/Mar del Plata Defense – Normal Variation

[Line 167 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. Ne1]

Mar del Plata Defense of the King’s Indian Defense could be characterized as an evergreen – it became popular quickly after Gligoric had introduced the idea, and has ever since remained one of the most beloved variation among the KID aficionados. Among the top-tier players Nakamura frequently employs this line, and his games, like the recent W. So – H. Nakamura, Saint Louis 2015 show that this variation is very much alive.

After 9… Nd7 White has a choice among the next three plans: 10. Be3 f5 11. f3 f4 12. Bf2 with later Rc1 or Nd3 and c4-c5 is very much straightforward; 10. Nd3 f5 11. Bd2 is aimed against an early f5-f4; 10. f3 f5 11. g4 secures extra space for white pieces on the kingside and makes Black’s topical plan harder to conduct.

Move 9… Ne8 is more passive than the aforementioned alternative, since it allows a much quicker c4-c5 advance, like in the following line: 10. Be3 f5 11. f3 f4 12. Bf2 h5 13. c5.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position is somewhat typical for the Mar Del Plata Defense: White exerts pressure on the queenside, while Black launches the attack on the opposite side, and even has a clear threat of a checkmate in one. White’s a bit unusual reaction secures his King, and gives him a clear edge!

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[October 23, 2016] Dusted Off: Opening Survey by GM Slaviša Brenjo
King’s Indian Defense, Semi-Averbakh System with 7… Na6 & 8… c6

The 20th Hoogeveen tournament brought this year two exceptionally interesting mini-matches, where Short and Sokolov eventually prevailed against their much younger opponents.

This article focuses on Ivan’s incredible performance with White pieces. His smart opening choices led to positions where his proactive positional style based on deep understanding of high-tension middlegame play was at full display. His great opening choices were actually a product of good old school thinking, as he served from a tricky move order a theory-resistant variation, which he spiced up with some very concrete preparation that computer engines couldn’t recognize at lower depths.
Such lines tend to be easily overlooked, so we will examine what Sokolov had prepared for his third game against Jordeen van Foreest.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black has sacrificed a pawn counting on White’s undeveloped kingside. However, Black pieces are still uncoordinated and White can make use of that fact to secure a tangible advantage. What would you play?

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[October 22, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Bogo-Indian Defense, Gruenfeld Variation with 4… b6

[Line 197 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Nbd2 b6]

After 5. a3 Black is practically forced to give away the Bishop from b4 for the Knight on d2 with 5… Bxd2+, since the position after 5… Be7 6. e4 remains firmly in White’s favor.

If White takes on d2 with the Bishop (6. Bxd2), his plan is usually connected with Bg5 and e3. On the other hand Black, at some point, usually reacts with h6, g5 and Ne4, typically obtaining equal chances.

Capturing with the Queen (5. a3 Bxd2+ 6. Qxd2) leads to small but stable advantage for White – the most common plan is e2-e3, Be2, O-O and either b2-b3 or b2-b4, followed by Bb2. A model line could be: 6… Bb7 7. e3 O-O 8. Be2 d6 9. O-O Nbd7 10. b4 Ne4 11. Qc2 f5. Black here intends to create some activity on the kingside with a typical maneuver Rf6-h6(g6). Thematic reaction from White 12. d5! ought to gives him the initiative, while after 12. Bb2 Rf6 13. d5 Rh6 Black gets sufficient counterplay.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black Bishop on d5 is unprotected and by moving the Knight from d4 white Rook from d1 will immediately attack it; what is the best way for White to make use of that fact?

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[October 21, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Winawer Variation

[Line 343 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4]

Line 343 is an introductory line of the Winawer Variation of the French Defense and, as can be expected, White has many, substantially different, possibilities at his disposal.

Exchange variation (4. exd5) typically leads to quiet positions. After 4… exd5 5. Bd3 a common continuation could be 5… Nc6 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. bxc3 Nge7 with White having a pair of Bishops and his opponent relying on a better pawn structure.

Old move 4. Nge2 doesn’t seem to pose real problems to Black. After 4… dxe4 5. a3 Be7 6. Nxe4 Nf6 occurs a position similar to the Rubinshtein Variation (3… dxe4 4. Nxe4), but the Knight on e2 is here a bit passive.

By choosing 4. a3 White is heading for sharp lines 4… Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 dxe4 6. Qg4 Nf6 7. Qg7 Rg8 8. Qh6, where Black has a few ways to get sufficient counterplay.

By far the main move is 4. e5 and the main option 4… c5 is covered in our Lines 344-346. Other popular variations for Black are 4… b6 and 4… Qd7, while 4… Ne7 usually transposes to positions from 4… c5, for example 4… Ne7 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 is the initial position of Line 345.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black has a Bishop+Queen battery aiming towards the White King, and the g2-pawn is under attack. How can White protect his King and activate the pieces to gain a clear advantage?

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[October 20, 2016] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Four Knights Variation – Romanishin & Stean Variations

[Line 013 : 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e3]

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.

By choosing 4. e3 against the Four Knights Variation of the English Opening, White supports the d4-square with his e-pawn and later indends to play d2-d4.

Depending on the taste, Black usually opts for one of the following: 4… Bb4, 4… Be7, 4… d6 or 4… d5.

Variation 4… Bb4 is aimed against White’s d2-d4 advance, and after 5. Qc2 the two most frequent continuations from Black are the Romanishin Variation (5… Bxc3) and 5… O-O 6. Nd5 Re8, where 7. Qf5 is the initial position of the Stean Variation.

Move 4… Be7 leads to less demanding positions, and two common follow-ups are 5. a3 O-O 6. Qc2 d5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 and 5. d4 exd4 6. Nxd4 O-O.

Line 4… d6 5. d4 g6 offers White an immediate opportunity to enter the endgame with 6. dxe5 Nxe5 7. Nxe5 dxe5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8, where Black ought to get equal chances without much effort.

Reversed Paulsen Variation of the Sicilian Defense, occuring after 4… d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5, is typically very sensitive for Black since it requires his full attention.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White’s last move was a defensive one: Rd1-d4 brings the Rook to an active role in protection against Black’s strong attack. Still, Black has a powerful response, which should secure him a big advantage!

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