[June 30, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
King’s Indian Defense, Sidelines & Smyslov Variation

[Line 150 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 without 4. e4]

Line 150 deals with White’s various sidelines in the Classical King’s Indian Defense.

The Smyslov Variation (4. Nf3 O-O 5. Bg5) is a solid choice for White, which is easy to adopt and hence quite suitable for beginners. After 5… d6 6. e3, Black often chooses one of the following two plans: 6… c5, followed by chasing the dark-squared Bishop with h7-h6, g6-g5 and Nh5, and the other option is 6… Nbd7, with e7-e5 and Re8.

The other popular White’s setup that is covered in this Line is 4. Nf3 O-O 5. e3, and again Black has two plans, quite similar to the above mentioned ones: 5… c5 6. d5 d6 7. Be2 e6, or 5… d6 6. Be2 Nbd7 7. O-O e5; both plans lead to approximately equal positions.

[Diagram: White to Move] E. Tomashevsky – D. Kokarev, Krasnoyarsk 2007. Tomashevsky missed a great opportunity to deal a strong blow – can you find it?

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[June 29, 2016] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Hedgehog Variation

[Line 044 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. g3 b6]

This update is a small tribute to our late colleague GM Dragan Paunović. In memory of our dear friend, our Editorial Board will continue updating his lines and articles.

The Hedgehog Variation of the English Opening, though a bit passive, is very a flexible opening for the players of Black.

Line 044 deals mostly with various choices for Black after 5. Bg2 Bb7 6. O-O, and also covers the main 6… Be7 lines without 7. d4, which is covered in our Line 045.

In recent years 7. Re1 with the idea e2-e4 gained in popularity. For club level players we recommend 7… d5 8. cxd5 Nxd5, where Black has good chances to equalize. The alternative is 7… d6, which leads to more complex positions, but also demands accuracy from both sides, though perhaps a bit more from Black.

From several setups that are easy to adopt for the players of White, we recommend 7. b3 O-O 8. Bb2, followed by e2-e3, Qe2, Rfd1 and d2-d4.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black King is temporarily exposed, so it’s the right time for White to start the action!

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[June 28, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Vadim Zvjaginsev:
Sicilian Defense, French Variation with 3. d4 (incl. Anderssen, Kan & Kveinys Variations)

[Line 442 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4]

After 3… cxd4 4. Nxd4 Black has a choice among several possibilities. The Taimanov Variation (4… Nc6) is covered in our Lines 449-456, and the other major line is the Kan Variation (4… a6), which is partially examined here.

The Anderssen Variation (4… Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4) is rarely seen nowadays, since it is considered to lead to longterm advantage for White.

Similar stands for the Kveinys Variation (4… Qb6), where White’s most ambitious try is 5. Nc3 Bc5 6. Na4 Qa5+ 7. c3.

The main focus of Line 442 is the Kan Variation with early c2-c4: 4… a6 5. c4. White gets more space, and if he manages to neutralize Black’s pressure on central squares, he has good chances to secure more pleasant positions. After 5… Nf6 6. Nc3 there are two essentially different plans for Black: 6… Bb4 and 6… Qc7.

With 6… Bb4 Black attacks the e4-pawn, and 7. Qd3 is here quite a popular continuation, e. g. seen in a theoretically important game M. Carlsen – V. Anand, Sochi (m/6) 2014.

After 6… Qc7, Black leaves his opponent with a strong center, generally planning to play d5 in the later stage of the game. The game here usually continues with 7. a3 b6 8. Be3 Bb7 9. f3 d6 10. Be2 Be7 11. O-O O-O 12. Qd2, and though White’s position is preferable, Black has a very flexible setup, so a strategic battle typically follows.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s last move was Nxe4, overlooking White’s strong response. How can White gain an almost decisive advantage?

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[June 27, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Slav Defense, Chebanenko Variation with 5. a4

[Line 099 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 a6 5. a4]

White’s idea with 5. a4 is to prevent his opponent from playing dxc4 and supporting that pawn with b7-b5. However, playing a4 weakens the b4-square, and Black often makes use of it by deploying his Bishop or Knight on that place. Black’s typical reaction is 5… e6, and now White has a wide range of choices.

If White opts for a kingside fianchetto with 6. g3, he loses just enough time to allow his opponent’s counteraction in the center with 6… dxc4 7. Bg2 c5, which gives Black a quite satisfactory position.

Against more solid 6. e3, Black has a strong response in 6… c5 7. Bd3 Nc6, and the weakness on b4 gives him sufficient compensation for White’s slight developmental advantage.

In our opinion White’s best try is 6. Bg5, where Black has several possibilities of more or less equal strength: 6… a5, 6… h6 and 6… Nbd7.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black sacrificed an exchange in the early stage of the game, and now needs to play a few accurate moves to secure a draw. How should he continue?

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[June 26, 2016] Updated Opening Article by GM Aleksandar Kovačević:
July 2015 Revisited: Sicilian Najdorf, English Attack

In the original article our game of the week was a memorable one: D. Navara – R. Wojtaszek, Biel 2015, where white king’s extraordinary march all the way to h8 brought him a spectacular win. We have now updated the survey with several theoretically important over-the-board and correspondence games, but the most important addition the discovery that Navara’s incredible plan was actually flawed!

[Diagram: Black to Move] The diagrammed position shows the critical moment in the above mentioned game: white king is dangerously close to the enemy camp, so Black has to find a way to cut off his opponent’s pieces, to make sure they cannot come to the rescue of their monarch.

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[June 25, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Normal Variation – Classical Variation without 4. Bg5

[Line 336 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 without 4. Bg5]

Line 336 deals with various sidelines in the Boleslavsky Variation (4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3) of the French Defense, as well as with the alternatives for both sides, starting from White’s fourth move.

In the Boleslavsky Variation, the main examined line is 7… Qb6, where White usually responds with 8. Na4 Qa5+ 9. c3. Positions tend to become quite closed after 9… c4 10. b4 Qc7, and after several accurate moves, Black should be able to equalize. His 9th move alternative is 9… b6 10. Bd2 c4 11. b4 Nxb4 12. cxb4 Bxb4, and though it’s easier to play the position for White, Black still has his fair share of counter-chances. The other try for Black (9… cxd4 10. b4 Nxb4 11. cxb4 Bxb4+ 12. Bd2) leads to his opponent’s advantage.

Nakamura had tried 7… Rb8 several times, and that is the line we recommend for beginners.

For the players of White that want to avoid the most critical lines, we recommend either 5. Nce2 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Nf3, or 4. exd5 exd5 5. Bg5, which is more suitable for beginners.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s central pawns seem terrifying, and they would indeed offer him dangerous compensation, were it not for White’s unexpected blow. How can White get an almost winning position?

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