[September 22, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense – Main Line with 9… Ke8

[Line 380 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 Ke8]

White’s usual continuation after the introductory moves is 10. h3, where Black can choose from several promising choices.

Move 10… h5 is the most popular one. By stopping the eventual g2-g4 Black secures the position of his Knight on f5. White in his turn has four highly examined possibilities: 11. Bf411. Bg5, 11. Rd1 and 11. Ne2 where, in any case, Black has a few paths to get even chances.

Among the 10th move alternatives, 10… Be7, 10… h6 and 10… Be6 should be good enough for equalization. Recently even 10… b6 has been proved satisfactory, since after 11. Rd1 Bb4 12. Ne2 Bb7 players of Black solved their problems in games V. Anand – V. Topalov, Saint Louis 2016 and A. Grischuk – D. Andreikin, Baku 2014.

[Diagram: White to Move] Iv. Sarić – Z. Efimenko, Khanty Mansiysk 2010. White Knight is hanging, and Black has another strong threat – Ne2+. How can White parry his opponent’s intentions and obtain a longterm advantage?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[September 21, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Vadim Zvjaginsev:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, incl. Exchange Variation

[Line 267 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. Bg5 Nbd7 without 6. e3]

Most frequently played move 6. e3 is the topic of our Line 269, and the Exchange Variation (6. cxd5 exd5) is another popular choice. After 7. e3 Be7, in addition to 8. Bd3 (Line 268), White has another alternative of approximately the same strength – 8. Qc2. A common plan for Black is exchanging the dark-squared Bishops with  8. Qc2 Nh5 9. Bxe7 Qxe7, and the other is typical 8. Qc2 Nf8, followed by Ne6, g7-g6, Ng7 and Bf5.

For those players of White wanting to avoid the main lines we propose 6. Qb3, often in connection with the following typical plan: e2-e3, Bd3(e2) and O-O.

[Diagram: White to Move] V. Aleshnya – O. Sogaard, corr. 2003. Black King is ready to take flight over e6 and f6, and then simply convert his material advantage. If White attacks the c6 pawn with Rb6, Black is then able to protect it with Bd7. So, what is the best way for White to continue?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[September 20, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Slav Defense, Exchange Variation

[Line 064 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 without 3. Nc3, 3. Nf3, 3. e3]

The main point of interest of Line 064 is the Exchange Variation (3. cxd5) of the Slav Defense. Many positions of this variation are considered to be rather drawish, though some lines studied here are not without venom.

The fact that White Knight from g1 is still undeveloped makes Black’s task to equalize much harder. The most ambitious plan for White is to continue with 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Bf4.

If Black opts for 5… Qb6, White has an interesting pawn sacrifice 6. e3 Qxb2 7. Bb5+ Nc6 8. Nge2 at his disposal.

Black’s more common reaction is 5… Nc6, where after 6. e3 he has the following possibilities: 6… Bf5, 6… a6, 6… Bg4 and 6… e6. In any of the cases Black should be able to get, with precise play, positions that are roughly equal.

[Diagram: White to Move] White’s better development and his opponent’s misplaced Queen are more than sufficient compensation for the sacrificed pawn, but he can even secure a decisive advantage with the right continuation!

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[September 19, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Pirc Defense, Austrian Attack

[Line 299 : 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. f4]

The Austrian Attack is the most aggressive approach against the Pirc Defense. After 4… Bg7 5. Nf3 there are two viable choices for Black: one is the immediate reaction in the center with 5… c5, and the other is 5… O-O.

After 5… c5, White can go for the less forced 6. dxc5 Qa5 7. Bd3 Qxc5 8. Qe2, or for the main 6. Bb5+, where after 6… Bd7, both 7. e5 and 7. Bxd7+ deserve serious attention.

Positions occurring after 5… O-O 6. Bd3 are substantially different, but equally demanding like the previously mentioned ones. Moves 6… Nc6 and 6… Na6 are the most promising continuations for Black, and they should provide him sufficient counterplay.

[Diagram: Black to Move] A. Shomoev – S. Mamedyarov, Jurmala (rapid) 2015. Shomoev missed his opponent’s strong reply, leading to a long-term advantage for Black. What did White fail to see?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[September 18, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Sicilian Defense, Richter-Rauzer Variation – Main Line with 7… Be7 8. O-O-O O-O

[Line 474 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O]

The Richter-Rauzer Variation with an early short castling is a viable choice for Black, though it requires precise knowledge of the topical lines. There are two usual plans for White – one is connected with f2-f4 and e4-e5, and the other with f2-f3 and advance on the kingside.

After 9. f4 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 Qa5, White again has a couple of options of about the same strength – 11. Bc4, 11. e5 and 11. Kb1, where Black is able to equalize with accurate play.

Move 9. f3 often leads to double-edged positions with both sides attacking the opponent’s King, like in the line 9… a6 10. h4 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 b5.

Less popular, though equally fine continuation for White, is 9. Nb3, exerting the pressure on the d6-pawn.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s King is poorly defended, as most of his pieces are on the opposite side of the board. How can White make use of it to get a decisive attack?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[September 17, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Gruenfeld Defense, Exchange Variation

[Line 139 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5]

After the forced 4… Nxd5, apart from the main 5. e4 (Lines 140-145), White has a couple of popular alternatives.

Move 5. Bd2 is frequently seen even in grandmaster practice. White plans, after 6. e4 Nxc3, to take the Knight on c3 with the Bishop. Black can oppose his opponent’s plan with 5… Nb6, attacking the d4-pawn, where White usually reacts with 6. Nf3, 6. e3, 6. Bf4 or 6. Bg5, though even a gambit move 6. e4 deserves attention. After 5… Bg7 6. e4 moves 6… Nb6 and 6… Nxc3 are of about the same strength.

From other lines covered in this opening line, 5. g3 and 5. Na4 are the most common, where in both cases, Black has a few paths to equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black is behind in development and his King is stuck in the center. What is the best way to proceed as White and get a very strong attack?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…