[December 16, 2018] Updated Opening Article by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
September 2016 Revisited: Bishop’s Opening with 7. Qxd2

After Chinese prodigy Wei Yi mesmerized the world with a stunning queen sacrifice against his super-GM compatriot Ding Liren, this offbeat line suddenly gained in popularity. This update brings several new successful outings for the players of White, including a top-level one: F. Caruana – P. Tregubov, Berlin 2017.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Raubfisch ME 262  – Komodo 9.02, Internet (blitz) 2016What seemed like another uneventful balanced game among the top engines could have turned into a barely defendable position for White had Komodo had more time to calculate more deeply… Can you find the devastating attacking plan for Black?

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[December 15, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Torre Attack, Euwe Variation & Fianchetto Defense

[Line 078 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bg5]

Torre Attack is an interesting option mostly for club level players. White’s setup is pretty straightforward: Nbd2, c2-c3, e2-e4, Bc4 and O-O. On the other hand, after 3… Bg7 4. Nbd2 Black usually decides among the following plans.

By playing 4… O-O, Black allows his opponent to form a pawn center with e2-e4, but he intends to fight it later with d7-d6, and either c7-c5 or e7-e5.

The idea of 4… d6 is similar, yet after 5. c3 Black has an additional option in 5… h6 6. Bh4 g5 7. Bg3 Nh5.

In the Euwe Variation 4… c5 Black wants to exchange the c-pawns first and play d7-d5 sometime later  like in 5. c3 cxd4 6. cxd4 O-O 7. e3 Nc6 8. Bd3 d5, with a comfortable game.

Move 4… d5 is aimed against e2-e4. After 5. e3 c5 6. c3 Nbd7 the position should be roughly equal.

[Diagram: White to Move] Retreating the Bishop to g3 leaves Black with a good position. Can you find a better continuation for White in the diagrammed position?

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[December 14, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Gruenfeld Defense, Exchange Variation (Modern Main Line with 8. Be3)

[Line 142 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Nf3 c5 8. Be3 Qa5 9. Qd2]

Line 142 deals with one of the most critical variations of the Gruenfeld Defense. Black’s choices 9… Bg4 and 9… cxd4 lead to White’s advantage, so there are only two moves that give Black good chances to equalize: 9… O-O and 9… Nc6.

Move 9… O-O is considered to be the main, where both 10. Rc1 and 10. Rb1 are played quite frequently.

The same responses of White are seen against 9… Nc6, and again after 10. Rb1 and 10. Rc1 Black has sufficient resources to get roughly even positions.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Rombaldoni – B. Avrukh, Alghero 2011. Black’s idea is to create counterplay with b5-b4. However, White is faster and is able to launch a strong attack. What is the best continuation for him?

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[December 13, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Catalan Defense, Open Defense with 5… a6

[Line 242 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 dxc4 5. Bg2 a6]

Open Defense with 5… a6 is one of the sharpest lines in the Catalan Defense.

Move 6. O-O is the main choice of the players of White where 6… b5, although interesting, is generally considered preferable for White. For example, 7. Ne5 Nd5 8. a4 Bb7 9. axb5 axb5 10. Rxa8 Bxa8 11. e4 Nf6 12. Nc3, with the initiative. Somewhat better option for Black is 6… Nc6, where players of White have tried numerous replies. Among them 7. e3 poses the most problems to Black. After 7… Bd7 as an alternative to the main 8. Nc3 White sometimes opts for 8. Qe2 b5 9. b3 cxb3 10. axb3, with sufficient compensation for the sacrificed pawn.

There is another popular option for White – 6. Ne5, where Black has two possibilities that should be enough to equalize: 6… c5 and 6… Bb4+.

[Diagram: White to Move] D. Refalo – R. Sanchez Ortega, corr. 2010. Black is a pawn up but his King is poorly protected. What is the best way for White to launch an attack and get a big advantage?

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[December 12, 2018] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
Four Knights Game, Spanish Variation without 4… Nd4 (incl. Double Ruy Lopez)

[Line 374 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Nc3 without 4… Nd4]

The Spanish Variation, though nominally a part of the Four Knights Game, is typically reached by transposition as an Anti-Berlin reaction from White (at least in recent years).

The so-called Double Ruy Lopez, starting with 4… Bb4, is covered as the main variation in Line 374. As a viable alternative, there is also 4… Bc5, which generally leads to satisfactory positions for Black.

[Diagram: White to Move] In an engine game White failed to find the best way to re-ignite his attack. What was the best way to proceed?

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[December 11, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Dragon Variation – Yugoslav Attack

[Line 466 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4]

The Yugoslav Attack in the Dragon Variation is certainly one of the most daring lines in the modern chess theory.

The most popular continuation is 9… Bd7. If White opts for 10. Bb3 Black has, apart from 10… Rc8, two extra possibilities: 10… Nxd4 11. Bxd4 b5 and 10… Na5, both with roughly equal chances.

The main move is 10. O-O-O, where Black has, besides the most common 10… Rc8, two also interesting options: 10… Rb8 (Chinese Variation) and 10… Qb8. The game is very sharp and with mutual chances in both of these sidelines, though  White’s position, if played accurately, should be slightly preferable.

One of the best known tabiyas of the Dragon Variation occurs after 10… Rc8 11. Bb3 Ne5. Now, lines 12. Kb1 Re8 and 12. h4 h5 are considered to be of about the same strength, both leading to highly complex positions.

For club level players we recommend rarely played, yet viable, 9… Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Be6 leading to positions that are balanced, but a bit easier to play with white pieces.

[Diagram: White to Move] The end of a famous game: A. Karpov – V. Korchnoi, Moscow (m/2) 1974. To crack his opponent’s defense White needs to remove the black Knight from protecting the h7-pawn. White to play and win!

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