[February 22, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Caro-Kann Defense – Panov-Botvinnik Attack

[Line 305 : 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6]

White’s most common choice on 6th move is 6. Nf3, usually followed by Black’s frequent reply with 6… Bb4, though 6… Be7 is also a reasonable alternative.

After 6. Nf3 Bb4 White can try 7. Bd3, though Black gets a promising position with 7… dxc4 8. Bxc4 Qc7.

For that reason, the main debate in the Panov-Botvinnik Attack occurs after 6. Nf3 Bb4 7. cxd5 Nxd5, where White has two moves of about the same strength: 8. Qc2 (covered in Line 306) and 8. Bd2. After the usual 8. Bd2 Nc6 9. Bd3 O-O 10. O-O Be7 appears a position typical for this variation. White has more space, but d4-pawn could become vulnerable. The most popular options for White are 11. Re1, 11. a3 and 11. Qe2, and in any case Black is able to obtain equal chances.

There is also a sideline 6. a3 which we recommend for beginners. White prevents Be7-b4, and plans to continue with Nf3, Bd3 and O-O.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s last move was a mistake 15…h6, allowing White to launch a decisive attack on the weakened position of black King. How can White punish his opponent?

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[February 21, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
Modern Benoni, Fianchetto Variation (Hastings Defense)

[Line 119 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e6 4. Nc3 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nf3 g6 7. g3]

For the players of White the Fianchetto Variation remains a reliable positional approach to handling the Modern Benoni Defense. After the common follow-up 7… Bg7 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O Black has a couple of setups at his disposal.

The most frequent reaction is 9… Re8. White also has a few possible plans, where 10. Nd2 is an alternative to 10. Bf4. Against the latter, Black gets a satisfying position both with 10… a6 11. a4 Nh5 12. Bg5 Qc7 and 10… Ne4 11. Nxe4 Rxe4 12. Nd2 Rxf4 13. gxf4 Bxb2 14. Rb1 Bg7.

The Hastings Defense 9… Nbd7 is equally fine for Black. After 10. Bf4 Qe7, often followed by Ng4 or Nh5, Black has a decent counterplay.

Black can also include 9… a6 10. a4 before proceeding with 10… Nbd7, again with balanced positions.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White pieces are entangled, which gives Black tactical motives leading to his longterm advantage. How should Black continue?

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[February 20, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Classical Defense (Steinitz Variation)

[Line 081 : 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 dxc4 4. e3]

The common choice of players of Black in QGA is the Steinitz Variation 4… e6 5. Bxc4 c5. In the positions occurring in this variation White often gets an isolated d4-pawn, while having a bit more space for his pieces.

Apart from the main 6. O-O (covered in Lines 082-085), White frequently employs 6. Qe2, which is the main point of interest of this opening line. If Black opts for 6… cxd4 or 6… Nc6, White is able to get somewhat better prospects; for example, after 6… cxd4 7. exd4 Be7 8. O-O Nc6 9. Rd1 O-O 10. Nc3 and 6… Nc6 7. O-O a6 8. Rd1 b5 9. dxc5 Qc7 10. Bd3 Bxc5 11. a4 White has a slight initiative.

For that reason the game usually continues with 6. Qe2 a6 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. O-O, where the most reliable move is 8… Nc6, with roughly equal prospects.

There are two sidelines for Black that could be interesting for club level players – 4… b5 5. a4 b4 6. Bxc4 e6 and 4… a6 5. Bxc4 b5 6. Bd3 Bb7. The additional alternative 4… Bg4 does not seem to be too promising, since after 5. Bxc4 e6 6. Nc3 Nbd7 7. O-O, White gets a slight but stable advantage.

[Diagram: White to Move] H. Hopfgartner – P. Soldini, corr. 2004. White has a strong initiative for the sacrificed pawn. Indeed, he can even get an overwhelming edge with energetic play. Can you find the best way to proceed as White?

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[February 19, 2017] Busted: Updated Opening Article by GM Boris Avrukh:
Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Central Variation, Kramnik’s Huge Preparation

March 2014 Revisited: 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. Bxc4 Nb6 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Be3 Nb4 8. Be4 f5 9. a3

There were some new interesting developments in the line 9. a3! since it was introduced by Kramnik against Karjakin in Khanty-Mansiysk 2014.

A couple of fresh grandmaster games continued with 9… Nd5, where our recommendation remains the same – 10. Bf3, with more pleasant position for White.

The main extension of this opening article is after 9… fxe4 10. axb4 e6 11. Nc3 Nd5, where in the last 2-3 years a plenty of engine games have been played. Though Black  gets some counterchances, move 12. Qg4! still gives White better prospects.

[Diagram: White to Move] The end of the combination conducted by White; how can he finish the attack in great style?

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[February 18, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Kasparov-Petrosian Variation with 5… d5 6. Bg5

[Line 209 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Bb7 5. Nc3 d5 6. Bg5]

After the usual 6… Be7, three choices of White are seen quite frequently.

The idea of 7. Qa4+ is to disrupt Black piece development. Move 7… Qd7 should give Black enough for equalization, for example 8. Qc2 dxc4 9. e3 Bxf3 10. gxf3 b5, though more common reaction is 7… c6, where position arising after 8. Bxf6 Bxf6 9. cxd5 exd5 10. g3 O-O 11. Bg2 Re8 is balanced.

The alternative 7. e3 leads to slow strategical battles, where game often proceeds with 7… O-O 8. Rc1 Nbd7 9. cxd5 exd5 10. Be2 c5.

The third possibility is 7. Bxf6 Bxf6 8. cxd5 exd5, where Black is able to get comfortable position against any of the following options of White: 9. Qb3, 9. Qa4+ and 9. g3.

[Diagram: Black to Move] A. Shimanov – T. Markowski, Warsaw 2014. White’s last move 13. b2-b4? gave Black an unexpected opportunity to gain considerable advantage. What should he do in the diagrammed position?

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[February 17, 2017] 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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