[September 28, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Modern Defense, Miscellaneous (incl. Pseudo-Austrian Attack)

[Line 292 : 1. e4 d6]

After 2. d4, apart from the Pirc Defense (2… Nf6), covered in our Lines 297-300, some players of Black choose Modern Defense (2… g6), delaying development of the Knight from g8. After 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 White has various setups at his disposal, and the most popular 4. Be3 is covered in our Line 293.

Pseudo-Austrican Attack (4. f4) is an aggressive approach from White. In the spirit of the variation is 4… a6 5. Nf3 b5 6. Bd3 Nd7, where both 7. e5 and 7. a4 should lead to small advantage for White.

White can also opt for a more positional continuation 4. Nf3 with a simple plan of development. A typical follow-up could be 4… a6 5. Be2 b5 6. O-O Bb7 7. Re1 Nd7 8. a4 b4 9. Na2, with a preferable position for White.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s position seems solid, but White has a way to make use of the fact that Black’s king has not castled yet.

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[September 27, 2016] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Symmetrical (Rubinstein) & Asymmetrical Variations

[Line 030 : 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 without 3.Nc3, 3.d4]

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.

Move 3. Nc3 is covered in Line 032, 3. d4 in Line 116, and after 3. g3 move 3… b6 is in Line 031, and 3… g6 in Line 036.

The main focus of this opening line is the Rubinstein System (i.e. the Reversed Maroczy Bind): 3. g3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Bg2 Nc6. Here 6. d4 allows Black to obtain comfortable play with 6… cxd4 7. Nxd4 Nbd4, so players of White tend to prefer 6. Nc3 Nc7 7. O-O e5.

White has two common plans: one is preparing the b2-b4 advance with a3 and Rb1, like in the line 8. a3 Rb8 9. Rb1 f6 10. d3 Be6 11. Be3 Qd7 12. Nd2 and the other one is transfering the Knight from f3 to c4, followed by f2-f4, e.g. 8. d3 Be7 9. Nd2 Bd7 10. Nc4 f6 11. f4, in both cases with roughly even chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] V. Kramnik – S. Karjakin, Sochi 2016. Kramnik’s preparation is, as usual, at a very high level – White can get a big advantage with aggressive play!

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[September 26, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Lasker-Pelikan Variation – Chelyabinsk Variation with 9. Nd5

[Line 437 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Nd5]

Line 437 covers the currently most popular line of the Lasker Variation of the Sicilian Defense: 9… Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. c4. Sacrificing the b-pawn with 11… Nd4 12. cxb5 Be6 13. Bc4, though interesting, does not give Black sufficient compensation after White’s precise play.

The best reaction from Black is the simple 11… b4 12. Nc2 a5, where White usually chooses between 13. Be2 and 13. g3. Overall evaluation is that Black should be able to equalize, without real difficulties.

Apart from the mentioned line, players of White sometimes opt for a sideline beginning with 10. Nxe7, where both 10… Qxe7 and 10… Nxe7 give Black comfortable play.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White is behind in development which gives his opponent more than sufficient compensation for a pawn. How can Black increase the pressure even more?

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[September 25, 2016] Updated Opening Article by GM Dragan Paunović:
November 2015 Revisited: English Opening, Bremen System with 7. Nf3

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.

After Giri successfully employed this line in A. Giri – V. Anand, Bilbao 2015, it was only a matter of time before this line returned to the spotlight.

[Diagram: Black to Move] The diagrammed position is critical for the theoretical assessment of this variation: Black has just made an important slight detour from the key game P. Svidler – L. Aronian, Moscow 2016, and has to find a neat resource to hold the balance. Do you see it?

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[September 24, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Boris Avrukh:
Gruenfeld Defense, Brinckmann Attack

[Line 138 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bf4]

The Brinckman Attack (4. Bf4) against the Grunfeld Defense is, in our opinion, a variation that’s suitable mostly for club level players.

After 4… Bg7 move 5. Nf3 transposes to our Line 146, whereas this opening line deals with move 5. e3, which is another major option for White. The usual reply from Black is 5… c5 6. dxc5 Qa5, and after 7. Qa4+ Qxa4 8. Nxa4 Bd7 9. Nc3 Ne4 he obtains sufficient compensation.

More ambitious possibility for White is 7. Rc1 dxc4 8. Bxc4 O-O where White plays either 9. Nf3 or 9. Nge2. After a few precise moves, Black is able to obtain equal chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] White gains an almost decisive advantage with a nice trick. Can you find it?

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[September 23, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense – Exchange Variation

[Line 322 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4]

Moves like 2… b6 or 2… c5 typically allow White to gain advantage quite easily so, on move two, the French Defense (2… d5) is the preference of most of the players of Black.

Advance Variation (3. e5) of the French Defense is covered in our Lines 323-324, Tarrasch Variation (3. Nd2) in Lines 325-330, and move 3. Nc3 in Lines 331-346.

Exchange Variation 3. exd5 is the simplest way to play against the French Defense, since it usually leads to quiet and symmetrical positions. Generally, after 3…exd5, there are two approaches that White can try – to play a straightforward plan by simply developing his kingside, e. i. 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Bd3 Be7 6. O-O, or a more committal c2-c4, which leads to positions with an isolated d-pawn for White, like in 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. c4 Be7 6. Nc3 O-O 7. cxd5 Nxd5.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White has just captured the Knight on c6, and Black needs to play energetically to hold the game. How can he reach an equal position?

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