NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[August 22, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation – English Attack with 6… e5

[Line 495 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 without 7. Nb3]

While move 7. Nb3, covered in Lines 497-500, is usually connected with the plan of f2-f3, Qd2 and O-O-O, with double-edged positions, move 7. Nf3 is more strategically oriented. The idea of placing the Knight on f3 is to allow the light-squared Bishop to go to c4 (and later to b3), trying to exploit the weakness of the d5-square. Apart from 7… Be7 (Line 497) Black sometimes opts for 7… Nc6 or 7… Be6, but 7… Qc7 is certainly the main alternative. By playing 7… Qc7 Black prevents his opponent from executing the initial Bc4-b3 plan. White often proceeds with 8. a4 (later followed by a4-a5), thus seizing some extra space on the queenside. The games in this line typically continue with 8… Be7 9. Be2 O-O 10. a5 Be6 11. O-O h6, where Black usually has sufficient resources to reach equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] B. Bok – G. Gajewski, Fagernes 2014. Black’s plan is Qc8, trapping the Rook on b7. What is the best reaction from White that secures him a big edge?

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NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[August 21, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense with 4. d3 Bc5 5.c3 (Main Line)

[Line 373 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3]

Black’s most common choice in this line is 5… O-O, though 5… d5 has recently been tried by some very strong players, including Kramnik and Aronian.

White has tried many options in response to 5… O-O, and some of them are 6. Bxc6 bxc6 7. Nxe5 and 6. Bg5. Move 6. O-O probably deserves to be seen more often, where 6… Re8 and 6… d5 are decent alternatives to 6… d6. There are many possibilities for both sides almost on every move. Among them 6. O-O d6 7. Nbd2 is the most natural, where Black has a couple of options of about the same strength. Moves 7… a6, 7… Ne7 and 7… Bb6 are probably all good enough for equalizing without difficulties.

[Diagram: White to Move] White can obtain a lasting edge with 17. Nf6+ Nxf6 18. Qxf5, but there is an even better continuation for him, leading to an almost winning position. Any thoughts?

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NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[August 19, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Bogo-Indian/Catalan Hybrid with 5. Bd2 Be7

[Line 231 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7]

After the usual 6. Bg2, opting for 6… c6, followed by Nbd7 and either b7-b6 or d5xc4, is our recommendation for club level players. More common is 6… O-O 7. O-O c6, where the main 8. Bf4 is covered in our Lines 232-234. White has many alternatives on the 8th move and among them 8. Qc2 and 8. Qb3 are the most frequently played.

If White plays 8. Qc2 Black has a choice between 8… b6 and 8… Nbd7, in both cases with roughly even chances.

Black has the same possibilities after 8. Qb3, for example 8… b6 7. Nc3 Nbd7 8. Rac1 Bb7, with equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s pieces are entangled, which allows White to gain an edge with a nice blow. How should he proceed?

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NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[August 18, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Ruy Lopez, Closed Defense – Breyer Variation (Miscellaneous)

[Line 408 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Nb8]

Move 10. d3 is a quiet sideline, where both sides have plenty of room for maneuvering. White’s plan typically includes Nbd2-Nf1-g3, and later either d3-d4 or Nh2-g4. On the other hand, Black usually proceeds with Nbd7, Bb7, Nc5 and Re8, with roughly equal chances.

The main move 10. d4 is more ambitious, where after 10… Nbd7 opting for 11. c4 is an interesting alternative to the more common 11. Nbd2. After 11. Nbd2 Bb7 12. Bc2 move 11… c5 deserves attention, while 11… Re8 is generally considered to be the main line. Variation 11… Re8 12. Nf1 is covered in Lines 409-410, and 11… Re8 12. a4 is the main point of interest of this opening line. After 12… Bf8 13. Bd3 c6 Black is generally able to equalize without difficulties.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black is planning the e5-e4 advance, with a very good position. How should White react to secure an edge?

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NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[August 17, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Jaenisch/Schliemann Gambit

[Line 370 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5]

Jaenisch/Schliemann Gambit is not a mainstream opening, but it is occasionally employed even on the grandmaster level. Apart from the most ambitious move 4. Nc3, White has a more quiet 4. d3.

In case of 4. Nc3 fxe4 5. Nxe4, in the old line 5… d5 White gets somewhat better prospects with 6. Nxe5 dxe4 7. Nxc6 Qd5 8. c4 Qd6 9. Nxa7+, so 5… Nf6 is a more promising option. Critical positions arise after 5… Nf6 6. Nxf6+ Qxf6 7. Qe2 Be7 8. Bxc6 bxc6 9. Nxe5 and 5… Nf6 6. Qe2 d5 7. Nxf6+ gxf6 8. d4 Bg7 9. dxe5 O-O, with Black having sufficient resources to equalize in both cases.

Another important line occurs after 4. d3 fxe4 5. dxe4 Nf6, where Black continues either with Bc5, d7-d6 and O-O, or with d7-d6, Be7 and O-O, with a roughly equal game.

[Diagram: Black to Move] D. Helbich – M. Noble, corr. 2007. Move 17… Qxh3 leads to a draw by perpetual check, but Black can do much more than that – he can even launch a decisive attack. How can he do that?

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NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[August 16, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Old Sicilian (incl. Godiva/Grivas & Flohr Variations)

[Line 428 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4]

After the most common 3… cxd4 4. Nxd4 comes a big branching in the Old Sicilian. Move 4… Nf6 is covered in Lines 434-439, 4… e6 in Lines 449-456, 4… g6 in Lines 430-433, and 4… e5 in Line 429, while the Flohr Variation (4… Qc7) often transposes to Line 453 after 5. Nc3 e6.

Among other options from Black, the Godiva/Grivas Variation 4… Qb6 deserves the most serious attention and is the main point of interest of this opening line. Black gets good prospects after 5. Nb5 Nf6, while 5. Be3 Qxb2 is a dubious pawn sacrifice, so the games in this line usually proceed with 5. Nb3 Nf6 6. Nc3 e6. White has a number of options here, but 7. Bd3 and 7. Qe2 are the most theoretically relevant ones. The former is frequently followed by Be3, f2-f4, Qf3 and later g2-g4-g5, where Black creates counterplay on the queenside with a7-a6, Qc7, b7-b5 and Bb7. If White opts for 7. Qe2, the critical position arises after 7… Bb4 8. Bd2 O-O 9. a3 Be7 10. O-O-O, where 10… d5 typically gives Black enough resources to equalize.

[Diagram: White to Move] C. Lutz – J. Polgar, Frankfurt (rapid) 1999. Black King is still in the center, which allows his opponent a launching of a strong attack. What is the best continuation for White?

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