[May 06, 2016] Updated Opening Line by GM Dragan Paunović:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Classical Variation (incl. Tiviakov Defense)

[Line 217 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3]

Line 217 deals with Black’s various 7th move reactions, including the Tiviakov Defense (7… Na6), where White typically gets slightly preferable positions.

The other reaction (7… d5) usually (i. e. after 8. cxd5 exd5) transposes to a variation covered in Line 216 (though reached via a different move order).

By far the most popular and also the main line is 7… Ne4, with the idea to trade a pair of knights. Apart from 8. Bd2 (covered in our Line 218), White has two more choices that seem quite playable: to simplify the position with 8. Nxe4, or to play the more ambitious 8. Qc2. In either case, Black has reasonable chances to equalize.

[Diagram: White to Move] In the pre-computer days it was possible to win quite a few games using the same well-disguised opening trick, which can hardly happen today. About forty years ago, IM L. Neckár tricked (at least) three good players in the diagrammed position, playing as White. What did he play?

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[May 05, 2016] Updated Opening Line by GM Trajko Nedev:
Caro-Kann Defense, Classical Variation – Main Line (Seirawan Variation with 11. Bf4)

[Line 314 : 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bf4]

Though Classical Variation of the Caro-Kann Defense has passed the baton of popularity to the Advance Variation, it still has a decent number of its proponents. It typically leads to quiet positions with slight spatial advantage for White, but Black’s usually has no discernible weaknesses in his camp.

The main 11. Bf4 is certainly the most critical line in the Classical Variation, and the modern response 11… Qa5+ 12. Bd2 Bb4  is the most popular way to fight it nowadays. White usually goes for 13. c3 Be7 14. c4, where 14… Qc7 15. O-O-O Ngf6 should leave Black with a sufficient counterplay.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Van Beek – J. Speelman, Gibraltar 2007. Black’s poorly protected King simply calls for some sacrifice from White. Agreed, but what should he sacrifice, and – most importantly – where?

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[May 04, 2016] Updated Opening Line by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
King’s Indian Defense, Aronin-Taimanov/Mar del Plata Defense – Bayonet Attack with 9… Nh5

[Line 169 : 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. b4 Nh5]

The Bayonet Attack of the Mar del Plata Defense is one of the sharpest lines in the King’s Indian Defense, and 9… Nh5 is the most common reaction to it.

Besides the main 9. Re1, White has two alternatives that deserve serious attention – 9. g3 and 9. c5.

After 10. Re1 f5 11. Ng5 Nf6, White has a choice between occupying the f3-square with his bishop or with  a pawn – both leading to equally interesting positions.

[Diagram: White to Move] K. Holroyd – V. Ivanov, corr. 2012. White has enough material to compensate for the queen, but he can even get a big advantage. How should he continue?

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[May 03, 2016] Updated Opening Line by GM Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Two Knights Variation – Fianchetto Lines

[Line 036 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 without 3. d4, 3. Nc3]

Since 3. Nc3 is covered in our Line 037 and 3. d4 transposes to King’s Knight Variation, Line 036 mostly deals with the Fianchetto Lines, starting with 3. g3.

On many occasions, if White plays d2-d4, Line 036 can transpose to the King’s Indian or the Grünfeld Defense. Otherwise, White usually opts for d2-d3, followed by Rb1 and the b2-b4 advance. In the English Opening black knight is already on c6 (which is covered in our Lines 007-008), but here Black can at some point push his pawn to c6, which typically leads to very flexible set-ups.

[Diagram: White to Move] This preview brings a position from W. Spoelman – A. Giri, Eindhoven 2010. White missed a way to get a strong initiative. Can you do better?

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[May 02, 2016] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Old Sicilian – Accelerated Dragon

[Line 430 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 without 5. c4]

The Maroczy Bind is covered in Lines 431-433, while Line 430 mostly deals with another important alternative for White – the Accelerated Dragon (5. Nc3).

The play here usually continues 5… Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Bc4 O-O 8. Bb3, where Black has several interesting possibilities at his disposal.

One of them is a modern gambit (8… d5!? 9. exd5 Na5) that was recently tried in S. Karjakin – D. Dubov, Doha 2015. It leads to some forced lines with positions that are good enough for Black, so it deserves serious consideration as an opening surprise.

The main line for Black is the quiet 8… d6 9. h3 Bd7 10. O-O Qa5, where White’s spatial advantage typically gives him a slight pull.

For advanced players we thus recommend the ambitious 8… a5, where the game can become quite unbalanced after 9. O-O a4 10. Nxa4 Nxe4 11. Nb5 Ra6, with mutual chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position is somewhat typical for the Sicilian Dragon: both sides are rushing with their flank attacks, but White is visibly quicker. What is the best way to proceed here?

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[May 01, 2016] Updated Opening Article by GM Boris Avrukh:
April 2013 Revisited: Slav Defense, Chebanenko Variation (Old Main Line)

Wojtaszek’s brilliant novelty that he uncorked against unsuspecting Malakhov was the original key game in this article, but some new developments have appeared in the meantime, and this update examines their significance for the modern opening theory. In our opinion, the most promising novel ideas for White can be seen in the following two games: <Engine/Centaur> – <Engine/Centaur>, Internet (rapid) 2015, and Ding Liren – S. Movsesian, Huai’an (blitz) 2016.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s counterplay against his opponent’s king seems more dangerous than it actually is, and White aptly denies it with a neat defensive idea…

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