[May 28, 2017] Updated Opening Article by GM Aleksandar Kovačević:
September 2016 Revisited: Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation: Bastrikov Variation

Our original main line of this variation still follows A. Morozevich – I. Bukavshin, Moscow (rapid) 2015, a marvelous tactical masterpiece by the former World No. 2. New theoretically important developments have appeared since our last update, so it seemed logical to revisit this double-edged line.

[Diagram: Black to Move] The diagrammed position is from the analysis that follows our improvement on M. Admiraal – K. Leenhouts, Belgium 2017. White is a pawn up and his advanced central pawns are getting ready to storm Black’s king that got stuck in the center. However, Black has a hidden resource that saves the day – can you find it?

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[May 27, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Miles & Spassky Variations

[Line 202 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 without 4. Nc3, 4. a3, 4. g3]

The most popular variations in the Queen’s Indian Defense are 4. g3 (Lines 213-228)4. a3 (Lines 206-212) and 4. Nc3 (Lines 203-205).

Miles Variation (4. Bf4) is a line that’s generally suitable for beginners, since White’s plan is easy to grasp: it typically includes e2-e3, h2-h3, Bd3(e2), O-O and Nbd2(c3).

Spassky Variation (4. e3) is another line for White that’s not particularly ambitious. Black has several decent responses, and 4… Bb7 is the most natural choice among them. In the position arising after 5. Bd3 d5 6. b3, Black has a few moves of about the same strength at his disposal. Move 6… c5 leads to a rather symmetrical position, while some other popular options here are 6… Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. Bb2 Nbd7 and 6… Bb4+ 7. Nbd2 c5.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Blees – H. Grooten, Eindhoven 1983. White has a strong initiative and his piece activity allows him to gain a decisive advantage. What would you propose?

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[May 26, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation – Opocensky Variation with 6… e5

[Line 488 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e5]

As a response to 6… e5 in the Opocensky Variation of the Najdorf Sicilian, White most often retreats the Knight to b3 – 7. Nb3.

After 7… Be7, White has a couple of interesting options: 8. Bg5, 8. Be3, 8. Qd3, while the most popular choice is 8. O-O. Variation 8. O-O O-O is covered in depth in our Lines 489-490, while 8… Be6 is an alternative of about the same strength. Position arising after 8. O-O Be6 9. f4 Qc7 10. a4 Nbd7 11. Kh1 O-O is complex, with roughly equal chances for both sides.

[Diagram: White to Move] D. Dubov – A. Grischuk, Moscow (blitz) 2014. Black needs only a tempo to consolidate and defend his weak dark squares, while keeping the bishop pair. How should White continue to gain a substantial edge?

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[May 25, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Normal Variation – Rubinstein Variation (Blackburne Defense)

[Line 332 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7]

Blackburne Defense (4… Nd7) is the most promising option for Black in the Rubinstein Variation. White usually replies with 5. Nf3, where after 5… Ngf6 move 6. Nxf6+ is covered in Line 333, while 6. Bg5 can be found in our Lines 334-335.

Another notable option for White is 6. Bd3. If Black reacts with 6… Nxe4 7. Bxe4 Nf6, White gets somewhat better prospects with 8. Bg5. That is the reason why the players of Black choose 6… c5 more often. On the other hand, White typically opts between the following two continuations: 7. O-O Nxe4 8. Bxe4 Nf6 9. Bg5, and 7. Qe2 cxd4 8. O-O Nxe4 9. Bxe4. The overall evaluation is that Black gets even chances with a few accuracies.

Our recommendation for beginners is 5. g3, and after 5… Ngf6, they can proceed with 6. Nxf6+ Nxf6 7. Bg2, with a simple game.

[Diagram: White to Move] E. Najer – I. Lysyj, Ulan Ude 2009. White has a better piece development, and he needs to act quickly to make use of that fact. What would you propose?

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[May 24, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Reti Opening, King’s Indian Attack with 2… c6

[Line 024 : 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 c6 without 3. c4, 3. d4]

White can transpose from the initial position of this opening line to Line 022 with 3. c4, or to Line 056 with 3. d4, but 3. Bg2 is what the players of White usually opt for.

As a response to 3. Bg2, Black can go for either 3… Nf6 (Line 026), or he can postpone that move, while keeping the option of developing that Knight to e7, after he finishes development of other pieces. The most common setup for Black is Bg4 (Bf5), followed by Nd7, and either e7-e6 or e7-e5. The illustrative variations for this plan are 3. Bg2 Bg4 4. O-O Nd7 5. d4 e6 6. Nbd2 Ngf6 7. Re1 Be7 and 3… Bf5 4. O-O e6 5. d3 h6 6. c4 dxc4 7. dxc4 Qxd1 8. Rxd1 Nf6. In both cases Black should equalize without difficulties.

[Diagram: White to Move] V. Kramnik – A. Beliavsky, Belgrade 1995. Young Kramnik played a nice game, and won from the diagrammed position in just a couple of moves. What would you propose for White?

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[May 23, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Bishop’s Opening

[Line 348 : 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4]

The Bishop’s Opening is a common way for White to avoid the Petroff Defense. On the other hand, Black can transpose to the Italian Game with 2… Bc5 3. Nf3 Nc6 (Line 363), or to the Two Knights Defense with 2… Nf6 3. d3 Nc6 4. Nf3 (Line 368).

The main line of the Bishop’s Opening goes 2… Nf6 3. d3 c6, where Black often carries out the d7-d5 advance. After 4. Nf3 Black has a choice between a solid continuation 4… Be7 5. O-O d6, and a more ambitious, but also more demanding, 4… d5. Against the latter option White typically responds with a logical retreat – 5. Bb3. Here both 5… a5 and 5… Bb4+ lead to positions with roughly equal chances, while White is somewhat better after 5… Bd6 6. exd5 Nxd5 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1 and 5… dxe4 6. Ng5.

[Diagram: White to Move] Wei Yi – Ding Liren, Baku (m/5, rapid) 2015. White Queen is under attack, while the Bishop and the Knight on e5 are extremely vulnerable. Any ideas?

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