[December 09, 2018] Updated Opening Article by GM Dragan Paunović:
May 2015 Revisited: Queen’s Gambit Declined, Anti-Moscow Gambit with 10. e5!?

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.

This is the first update of this opening survey that originally followed A. Grischuk – S. Karjakin, Khanty-Mansiysk 2015, and a number of mostly correspondence and engine games. Correspondence players and our trusty silicon friends are still big fans of this line, and the most theoretically relevant over-the-board game in this update is H. Nakamura – B. Gelfand, Moscow (rapid) 2018.

[Diagram: White to Move] White to move and survive 😉

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[December 08, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Scandinavian Defense

[Line 288 : 1. e4 d5]

The Scandinavian Defense is not a mainstream opening, though it is occasionally played by some strong grandmasters, and every once in a while even by the World Champion. The only principal reply is 2. exd5 where 2… Nf6 is rarely played nowadays since White gets a longterm edge with relative ease.

Against the more common 2… Qxd5 move 3. Nf3 does not seem to pose serious problems to Black. For example, after 3… Bg4 4. Be2 Nc6 5. d4 O-O-O Black’s chances should not be worse.

The most frequent White’s choice is 3. Nc3, where apart from 3… Qd6 (Line 289) Black has two viable choices: 3… Qd8 and 3… Qa5. In both cases White is able to obtain small advantage in more than one way.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Naiditsch – H. Stević, Bol 2013. White makes a decisive advantage with aggressive play! Can you see the path to the win?

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[December 07, 2018] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Nimzowitsch Variation

[Line 005 : 1. c4 e5 without 2. Nc3]

There are a couple of popular alternatives to 2. Nc3 (Lines 006-017), which is the main option in the English Opening.

Early kingside fianchetto 2. g3 occurs quite often even on the highest level. After 2… Nc6 a game often transposes to the lines stemming from 2. Nc3; for example position arising after 2… Nc6 3. Bg2 Nf6 4. Nc3 is covered in our Line 011. For club level players we recommend 2… c6, where after the most common 3. d4 Black is able to equalize with 3… e4 4. Nc3 d5. The most frequently seen follow-up is 2… Nf6 3. Bg2, where some of the ways for Black to gain satisfactory positions are 3… c6 4. d4 Bb4+, 3… d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. O-O Nb6 (preventing White from playing d2-d4) and 3… h6!? 4. Nc3 Bb4.

In the Nimzowitsch Variation (2. Nf3) Black is fine both after 2… Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Bb4+, and 2… e4 3. Nd4 Nc6.

[Diagram: White to Move] L. Portisch – Lj. Ljubojević, La Valetta (ol) 1980. Portisch obtained a small advantage with 9. cxd5 Bxd5 10. Bxd5 Nd4 11. Bg2 Qxb5 12. Qxb5 Rxb5 13. Rb1. However, there is an even stronger continuation for White in the diagrammed position – can you find it?

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[December 06, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Slav Defense, Modern Line (incl. Breyer Variation)

[Line 086 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 without 4. Nc3, 4. e3]

Main lines of the Slav Defense are covered in other opening lines: 4. Nc3 in Lines 098-111, and 4. e3 in Lines 088-097.

Move 4. Qc2 is also a frequently seen continuation. Black has a couple of solid replies, among them 4… g6, with the idea Bf5, is our recommendation for club level players, while 4… e6 transposes to Line 072. The most common option is 4… dxc4, where after 5. Qxc4 move 5… Bf5 is dealt with separately in Line 087. The alternative 5… Bg4 is of about the same strength, and White’s usual reactions are 6. Nbd2 and 6. Nc3.

The idea of 4. Qb3 is similar to 4. Qc2 – defending the c4-pawn. Besides 4… dxc4 (which leads to the above described position after 5. Qxc4), players of Black often opt for 4… e6, where their opponents typically choose one of the following: 5. Bg5, 5. Nc3 (Line 265) or 5. g3.

Breyer Variation (4. Nbd2) is an unambitious option, where Black can equalize without difficulties with 4… Bf5.

[Diagram: Black to Move] I. Caspi – E. Postny, Aix-les-Bains 2011. White’s last move was 12. f4, attacking both black Knights at a time. However, Black has a nice countermeasure that leads to a position with mutual chances.

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[December 05, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Steiner, Spielmann, Saemisch & Leningrad Variations

[Line 173 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 without 4. e3, 4. Qc2, 4. Nf3, 4. f3]

The most frequent choices of White are dealt with in the separate opening lines: 4. e3 in Lines 186-194, 4. Qc2 in Lines 175-185, 4. f3 in Line 174, and 4. Nf3 in Lines 198-199.

Black has a couple of ways to get promising positions in the Leningrad Variation (4. Bg5) and 4… c5 is the most principal option.

Saemisch Variation (4. a3) forces Black to concede the pair of Bishops 4… Bxc3+ 5. bxc3, but White’s pawn structure gets weakened in return.

Spielmann Variation (4. Qb3) is rarely seen nowadays since Black equalizes comfortably, and 4… c5 seams like the easiest way to do it.

If White opts for Steiner System (4. g3), the game transposes to Line 170 after 4… O-O 5. Bg2 d5, where again Black should not have problems to get even chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] S. Mamedyarov – N. Grandelius, Rogaska Slatina 2011. Apart from the anticipated 8. c4xd5 White has a much stronger reply, leading to a big advantage. So, what is the best move for White in the diagrammed position?

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[December 04, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Advance Variation

[Line 323 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5]

Though Black has a couple of options at his disposal, move 3… c5 is the most common choice. After 4. c3, continuation 4… Qb6 5. Nf3 Bd7, with the idea Bd7-b5, is our recommendation for club level players.

The game usually goes 3… c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3, where moves 5… Bd7 (Line 324) and 5… Qb6 are of about the same strength. Against the latter option, 6. a3, 6. Be2 and 6. Na3 are frequently seen, and in any case with complex strategical battles.

The alternatives 4… Nh6 and 4… Nge7 are more promising for White, for example 4… Nh6 5. Bd3 cxd4 6. Bxh6 gxh6 7. cxd4 and 4… Nge7 5. Na3 cxd4 6. cxd4 Nf5 7. Nc2, with a small edge.

[Diagram: White to Move] F. Caruana – F. Vallejo Pons, Sao Paolo/Bilbao 2012. Black has just sacrificed a Knight on b4, and wants to make pressure on the pinned c3-Knight. How should White continue to get a strong initiative?

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