[June 28, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Rubinstein Variation with 7. dxc5

[Line 084 : 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 dxc4 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 c5 6. O-O a6 7. dxc5]

By opting for 7. dxc5 White is ready to trade the Queens in an early stage of the game, fighting for a slight edge. If Black immediately trades the Queens with 7… Qxd1 8. Rxd1 Bxc5, White’s position is a bit more pleasant after 9. Nbd2 O-O 10. Be2 due to his better piece development.

Black’s more common reaction is 7… Bxc5, where after 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 his King will soon be well-placed on the e7-square.

One of the ways to continue as White is 9. Ne5 Ke7 10. Be2, with the idea to place one of the Knights on c4. Still, Black obtains good prospects after 10… Nd7 11. Nc4 Rd8.

Another popular choice is 9. Nbd2 Ke7 10. Be2, where both 10… Bd7 and 10… b6 should be sufficient to equalize.

[Diagram: White to Move] White Knight on c4 is under attack and 16. Ne5 gives him a slight and durable advantage. However, there is even a better way for White to proceed and obtain a more serious edge.

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[June 27, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation with 5. Bd3 (incl. Swiss Cheese Variation)

[Line 445 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 without 5… Bc5, 5… Nf6]

Apart from the most frequently played options 5… Bc5 (Lines 447-448) and 5… Nf6 (Line 446), Black has also tried numerous setups that are examined in this opening line.

Swiss Cheese Variation (5… g6) is not as naive as its name would suggest. Black’s plan usually includes Bg7, Ne7, Nbc6, O-O and later either d7-d6 or d7-d5. Although Black weakens his control of the dark squares, it is not easy for White to make use of it. Probably the simplest way for White to handle this variation is 6. O-O Bg7 7. Nb3 Ne7 8. c4 O-O 9. Nc3, with a slight edge.

Move 5… Ne7 is often followed by Nbc6. White is again able to get somewhat better prospects in more than one way, for instance 6. O-O Nbc6 7. Nxc6 Nxc6 8. Be3 Be7 9. Nd2 O-O 10. c3, where White is ready to meet 10… b5 with 11. a4.

Black can transpose to the main variation of our Line 446 with 5… Qc7 6. O-O Nf6. He can also opt for 5… Nc6 6. Nxc6 dxc6, though White’s position is more promising after 7. Nd2, which is often followed by Nc4 and a4.

[Diagram: White to Move] E. Geller – M. Tal, Biel 1976. Black is prepared to recapture the pawn while activating one of his Knights on d5. Geller has found a nice tactical resource that leads to White’s initiative. How would you proceed?

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[June 26, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Boris Avrukh:
Neo-Gruenfeld Defense, Fianchetto/Exchange Variation

[Line 134 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5]

Line 134 covers one of the main lines in the Fianchetto Variation of the Neo-Gruenfeld. After the most common 5… Nxd5 6. Bg2 Black has a choice between an immediate 6… Nb6, and 6… O-O , which is also later usually followed by Nb6. Variation 6… Nb6 7. Nc3 Nc6 seems to be the more accurate of the two, since if White responds with 8. O-O Black can, aside from 8… O-O 9. d5 Na5, also opt for 8… Nxd4 9. Nxd4 Qxd4, with roughly even chances.

The most popular option in the recent years is a modestly looking 10. e3 O-O 11. O-O, where 11… Re8 is examined in our Line 135. From other Black’s alternatives 11… e5 12. d5 Na5 gives him sufficient counterplay, while 9… a5 allows White to obtain a slight edge with 10. b3 e5 11. Ba3.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has a strong initiative for the sacrificed pawn. How should he proceed to make the best use of his superior piece placement?

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[June 25, 2017] Updated Opening Article by Boris Avrukh:
April 2017 Revisited: Sicilian Defense, Taimanov-Bastrikov Variation with 7… Bd6

Along with the Italian Game, this is one of our most frequently updated opening surveys. Though, admittedly, not as high profile as the Giuoco Piano, the fact that this line is played at pretty much all levels makes it a legitimate target for updating every now and then.

While our best mutual play still follows A. Motylev – M. Bosiočić, Moscow 2017, we consider A. Shirov – A. Hambleton, Reykjavík 2017 equally relevant for modern opening theory (our featured position follows the analysis of this important game). There is no doubt that this is a very topical and fashionable line, and we believe there is still plenty of room for improvement for both sides.

[Diagram: Black to Move] The diagrammed position comes from our analysis of the above mentioned game from the Reykjavík Open. Black’s kingside pawn structure is in shambles, so he has to do something quickly in order to survive. How would you proceed? – We think that this could be a very nice exercise for aspiring players, as both sides have to play with extreme accuracy until a drawn endgame is reached.

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[June 24, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Pirc Defense, Two Knights System

[Line 300 : 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Nf3]

Two Knights System is one of the most promising variations for White in the Pirc Defense. After the most common follow-up 4… Bg7 5. Be2 O-O 6. O-O arises a position where Black has a number of popular setups at his disposal.

After the classical 6… c6 7. a4 Nbd7 White is generally able to get somewhat better prospects with 8. a5, 8. Be3, and even with 8. h3.

The idea of 6… Bg4 is to trade that Bishop for the Knight on f3 at an appropriate moment, and later to press the d4-square with Nc6 and e7-e5.

In case of 6… a6 7. Re1 Black shouldn’t hurry with 7… b5 because White gets a big edge there with 8. e5. He should instead continue with 7… Nc6, though White’s position is a bit preferable after 8. d5 Ne5 9. Nxe5 dxe5 10. Bg5.

An unconventional move 6… e6 is connected with Nc6, where in case of d4-d5 Black has a nice square for that Knight on e7. Anyway, due to a slight space advantage, White is slightly better after 6… e6 7. Be3 Nc6 8. Qd2.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black has successfully defended from the attack along the h-file, yet his King remains vulnerable. How should White proceed to gain a substantial advantage?

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[June 23, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Rubinstein Variation (Russian Gambit, etc.)

[Line 082 : 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 dxc4 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 c5 6. O-O]

In the initial positon of this opening line Black almost exclusively plays 6… a6, where White has three very popular options: 7. Bb3 (Line 085), 7. dxc5 (Line 084), and 7. a4 (Line 083). However, it’s the other possibilities for White, such as 7. Bd3, 7. Qe2, 7. Nc3, and 7. e4, that can be found here.

By playing 7. Bd3 White prepares to meet the topical 7… b5 with 8. a4, weakening the Black’s kingside. For that reason, Black usually opts for 7… Nbd7, followed by b7-b6, or 7… cxd4 8. exd4 Be7, with even chances.

In case of 7. Qe2 a straightforward 7… b5 8. Bb3 Bb7 works fine for Black.

Black also gets sufficient counterplay after 7. Nc3 b5 8. Be2 Nbd7, while against the Russian Gambit (7. e4) Black can either accept it 7… Nxe4, or choose a more quiet 7… b5 8. Bd3 Bb7.

[Diagram: White to Move] White Queen is ready to create threats against the black King, but his position still appears reasonably safe. What would you play as White?

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