[February 19, 2018] Updated Opening Line from GM Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Modern Variation – Moscow Variation with 3… Nc6 (Main Line)

[Line 460 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nc6 4. O-O Bd7 5. Re1 Nf6 6. c3]

Since moves 6… g6 and 6… e6 in our opinion lead to White’s advantage, the only ambitious line for Black is 6… a6, where White has two principal continuations: 7. Ba4 and 7. Bf1. If we follow the first option, after 7… b5 8. Bc2 Bg4 we recommend either 9. d3 or 9. h3 for club level players, and 9. a4 for the advanced ones.

After 7. Bf1 Bg4, White again has an interesting choice between the solid 8. h3 and 8. d3, or mostly sharp 8. d4.

Although Black can equalize, highly accurate play is mandatory in most of the abovementioned lines!

[Diagram: White to Move] White has sacrificed both exchanges, and has the possibility to finish his opponent off. Hint: the e6-pawn is your main target!

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[February 21, 2018] Dusted Off: Opening Survey by GM Aleksandar Kovačević
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Kmoch Variation (4… Nc6)

Kmoch Variation of the Nimzo-Indian can be an extremely potent weapon in capable hands (e. g. Mamedyarov can be pretty convincing employing this variation as White, which is hardly surprising), which made our editor GM Kovačević re-evaluate his repertoire choices against this line.

GM Zvjaginsev’s Line 174 from our CHOPIN Encyclopedia was GM Kovačević’s reference point, and that’s where 4… Nc6 emerged as an option worth exploring. While Vadim’s original analysis remains correct, his work has been thoroughly updated, and much more. The final result is presented in this
article, and we believe that these analyses can be used as a reasonably decent foundation for Black’s repertoire against this tricky line.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black queen is trapped. Enter survival mode – can you do something against the seemingly inevitable Rh3?

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[February 17, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Reti Opening – King’s Indian Attack with 2… g6; Polish Defense

[Line 025 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 without 2. c4, 2. d4]

Since move 2. d4 is covered in our Line o76, and 2. c4 in Line 029, the main point of interest of this opening line is the Reti Opening 2. g3.

A type of the Polish Defense occurring after 2. g3 b5 is an unorthodox, yet perfectly viable variation. White has played g2-g3, and is practically obliged to proceed at some point with Bg2; hence, the exposed b5-pawn can not be attacked as easily as in the line 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b5.

After the more common 2… b6, White can again transpose to the English opening with 3. c4 or to the Queen’s Pawn game with 3. d4. The game usually continues 3. Bg2 Bb7 4. O-O e6 5. d3, followed either by c2-c4, or Nbd2 with e2-e4.

Black has many alternative setups, including a kingside fianchetto with 2… g6, while 2… d5 (Lines 026-028) leads to the main line of the Reti Opening.

We recommend 2. b3 for beginners. White’s plan includes Bb2, e2-e3 and c2-c4, with a small amount of theoretically important positions.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White’s last moves was 9. Bc3, intending to recapture with 10. Qxd2 on the next move, also defending the d4-pawn. If Black plays 9… Qb6, White will play another intermediate move 10. dxc5. So, what should Black do in the diagrammed position?

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[February 16, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Catalan Defense, Closed Variation with 4… Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2

[Line 236 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2]

After the most frequently played 7… a6, White has a choice between 8. Qxc4 (Lines 237-238) and the move that is the main focus of this opening line – 8. a4, which has gained a lot of popularity in recent years.

The main response to 8. a4 is certainly 8… Bd7, often followed by Bc6. Black’s plan typically involves a6-a5, Bxf3 and c6, which leads to very solid position. After 9. Qxc4 Bc6 White proceeds either with 10. Bg5 or 10. Bf4, and both of these move have been tried many times among the top-tier players. Apart from capturing the c4-pawn immediately with his queen, White can postpone it with 9. Rd1 Bc6 10. Nc3 or 9. Ne5 Bc6 10. Nxc6 Nxc6 11. e3. In both cases, Black is able to get equal chances, though it usually requires several accurate moves.

On 8th move Black has tried various alternatives to 8… Bd7, but only 8… c5 seems to give him good chances for equality. After 8… c5 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Nbd2 an interesting pawn sacrifice 10… b5!? 11. axb5 Bb7 12. bxa6 Nxa6 13. Qxc4 Bd5 leads to sufficient compensation for Black.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White’s last move was Nb1-c3, allowing Black the possibility to seize the initiative. What is the best way to continue as Black?

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[February 15, 2018] Updated Opening Line by GM Dragan Šolak:
French Defense, Tarrasch Variation with 3… Nf6 (incl. Leningrad & Botvinnik Variations)

[Line 326 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6]

Line 326 covers the dynamic 3… Nf6, where White gets more space after 4. e5 Nfd7, while Black usually either exerts pressure on the d4-pawn, or undermines White’s center with f7-f6 (or both).

For club level players we recommend 5. c3 c5 6. f4, with mostly maneuvering play from both sides.

The Botvinnik Variation, occurring after 5. Bd3 c5 6. c3 b6 (with the idea Bc8-a6) should leave White with a small advantage, like in the 7. Nh3 Ba6 8. Bxa6 Nxa6 9. O-O line.

The Leningrad Variation 5. Bd3 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ne2 cxd4 8. cxd4 Nb6 is another old line, which is not so popular nowadays, since it is mostly favorable for White.

The most promising line for Black is 5. Bd3 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ne2 cxd4 8. cxd4 f6, where 9. Nf4 leads to very sharp positions, while after 9. exf6 Nxf6 10. O-O White can probably count on a slightly more pleasant position.

[Diagram: White to Move] White’s next move 18. Nxd5 first comes to mind, but how should he proceed after 18… Qd8?

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[February 14, 2018] Updated Opening Line by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
King’s Indian Defense, Gligorić-Taimanov Variation with 7… Ng4

[Line 161 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. Be3 Ng4]

7… Ng4 is the main reaction to the Gligorić-Taimanov Variation of the King’s Indian Defense. After 8. Bg5 f6, White has a choice between 9. Bc1 and 9. Bh4.

Against the first option, Black has a couple of satisfying continuations: 9… Nc6 10. O-O f5 leads to a complex middlegame, while after 9… exd4 10. Nxd4 f5 11. h3 Nh6 position gets a bit simplified.

After the more frequently employed 9. Bh4 Black’s best response is 9… Nc6 10. d5 Ne7, where after 11. Nd211… f5 seems like an interesting alternative to the main 11… Nh6.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black’s pieces are aiming at White’s King, and a small tactical resource can give Black a huge advantage!

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