[November 15, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Classical Variation – Keres Defense without 7. Bg5

[Line 183 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 b6 without 7. Bg5]

In addition to 7. Bg5 (covered in Line 184) White can also play 7. Nf3, which is an option of approximately the same strength. Though after 7. Nf3 Bb7 he can opt for 8. Bg5 or 8. g3, move 8. e3 is the most common choice of White. Here, Black has two substantially different plans.

The idea of 8… d5 is connected with Nbd7, and either dxc4 or c7-c5. An illustrative line could be 9. b3 Nbd7 10. Be2 c5 11. O-O Rc8, with roughly equal game.

The more typical setup is 8… d6, followed by Nbd7, Ne4, and f7-f5, creating a counterplay on the kingside. After the frequently seen 9. Be2 Nbd7 10. O-O Ne4 11. Qc2 f5 12. b4 move 12… Rf6 clearly indicates Black’s intentions. Black should not accept pawn sacrifice after 13. d5; instead, he should carry on with the initial plan with 13… Rg6, with good prospects.

[Diagram: Black to Move] A. Karpov – J. Polgar, Zuerich (rapid) 2009. Judit failed to find the way to make use of White’s undeveloped kingside, which would have given her a clear edge. Can you see it?

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[November 14, 2018] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Korchnoi’s Variation

[Line 038 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. g3]

After the usual follow-up 5… Bg7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O occurs a major branching of this opening variation. If Black continues with 7… c5, notable choices of White include 8. Qa4 and 8. d4, yet 8. Nxd5 Qxd5 9. d3 Nc6 10. Be3 is the most frequently played one. Black can obtain equality without difficulties, often including simplification of the position, like in 10… Bd7 11. Nd4 Qd6 12. Nxc6 Bxc6 13. Bxc6 Qxc6.

Other possibilities are 7… Nc6 8. d4 e5!?, 7… e5 (known as the Kortchnoi’s Variation) and 7… Nxc3 8. bxc3 c5, that should also be fine for Black.

For club level players we recommend an interesting sideline – 5… Bg7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. h4, trying to provoke Black to weaken the kingside with 7… h6, where positions arising after 8. O-O Nc6 9. d4 typically favor White.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Adorjan – P. Popovic, Vrbas 1980. Black Bishop went astray on a4, which gives White motives connected with double attack. How can White win material in the diagrammed position?

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[November 13, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Scotch Game, Classical Variation with 5. Nxc6

[Line 362 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Bc5 5. Nxc6]

The most frequent choice of players of Black is the intermediate move 5… Qf6. White’s reply 6. Qd2 has lost a lot in popularity since Black has found the way to get a comfortable position after 6… dxc6 7. Nc3 Bd4.

Because of that fact, players of White typically opt for 6. Qf3 nowadays. Continuations 6… dxc6 and 6… bxc6 are of about the same strength, both leading to roughly equal positions.

Move 5… bxc6 seams like a reasonable alternative for Black. After the usual 6. Bd3 Black gets good counterplay with the aggressive 6… Qh4 7. Qe2 Nf6 8. h3 d5.

[Diagram: White to Move] After 16. c4 Black gets sufficient compensation for the pawn with 16… Nxd5 17. cxd5 Qd4. However, there is another path for White, leading to his advantage…

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[November 12, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Quiet Line with 5… Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Be7 7. Bg2 c6 8. Bc3 d5 9. Ne5 Nfd7

[Line 228 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Be7 7. Bg2 c6 8. Bc3 d5 9. Ne5 Nfd7]

Line 228 deals with one of the main variations of the Queen’s Indian Defense. The idea of 9… Nfd7 is to exchange an active white Knight from d5 for the less active one from b8. After the usual 10. Nxd7 Nxd7 11. Nd2 O-O 12. O-O Black has a choice between the following moves of about the same strength: 12… Rc8, 12… f5 and 12… b5.

In the first case, position often gets a forced character, like in 12… Rc8 13. e4 c5 14. exd5 exd5 15. dxc5 dxc4 where, both after 16. cxb6 and 16. c6, Black is able to equalize with accurate play.

By playing 12… f5 Black prevents his opponent from executing the main idea e2-e4. Black’s plan is frequently connected with transferring the Knight from d7 to e4, or preparing f5-f4.

After 12… b5 13. c5 e5 Black also has sufficient counterplay, for example 14. dxe5 Nxc5 15. a3 Bb7 16. Qc2 Ne6.

[Diagram: White to Move] J. Ballow – J. Viberg, corr. 2010. White has a clear compensation for the sacrificed pawn, and he can even get a substantial advantage, primarily thanks to the passed d-pawn!

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[November 11, 2018] Updated Opening Article by Boris Avrukh:
November 2016 Revisited: Réti Opening with 6. Qa4+

Our original version of this article featured A. Demuth – W. So, Montpellier 2015 as the line’s key game, where Black had little problems reaching full equality, where S. Mareco – Ni Hua, Baku 2015 only confirmed our assessment. It didn’t take long and Caruana got the opportunity to try the same line as White: he actually did it twice – against Anand and Topalov. This is an extremely double-edged line, and we believe there is still plenty of room for improvement for both sides.

[Diagram: Black to Move] The diagrammed position comes from a deviation from the main line on the seventh move. At first glance, it seems that Black has major difficulty solving the problems coming from his light square weaknesses. However, White’s cramped queenside, as well as the awkward placement of his knight give Black an incredible possibility to completely turn the tables… Well, how can he do that?

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[November 10, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Reti Opening, Miscellaneous

[Line 021 : 1. Nf3 d5 without 2. d4, 2. g3]

In addition to transposing to our Line 056 with 2. d4, and the main line in Reti Opening (2. g3) examined in our Lines 023-024, White has another popular alternative in 2. c4.

The Anglo-Slav, occurring after 2. c4 c6, is covered separately in Line 022, and other choices from Black on the second move (2… d4, 2… e6 and 2… dxc4) are the main point of interest of this opening line.

After 2. c4 d4, moves 3. g3 and 3. b4 seem to pose the most problems to Black, though he is typically able to get equal positions without difficulties.

After 2… e6 3. g3 dxc4 appears a kind of Neo-Catalan Accepted, while in case of 2… dxc4 White has a choice between 3. e3, often transposing to the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, and the not very ambitious 3. Na3 or 3. Qa4+.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White seems to be fine, but poor coordination of his pieces allows Black to obtain a substantial advantage. Can you find the way to do it?

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