[June 26, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Boris Avrukh:
Neo-Gruenfeld Defense, Fianchetto/Exchange Variation

[Line 134 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5]

Line 134 covers one of the main lines in the Fianchetto Variation of the Neo-Gruenfeld. After the most common 5… Nxd5 6. Bg2 Black has a choice between an immediate 6… Nb6, and 6… O-O , which is also later usually followed by Nb6. Variation 6… Nb6 7. Nc3 Nc6 seems to be the more accurate of the two, since if White responds with 8. O-O Black can, aside from 8… O-O 9. d5 Na5, also opt for 8… Nxd4 9. Nxd4 Qxd4, with roughly even chances.

The most popular option in the recent years is a modestly looking 10. e3 O-O 11. O-O, where 11… Re8 is examined in our Line 135. From other Black’s alternatives 11… e5 12. d5 Na5 gives him sufficient counterplay, while 9… a5 allows White to obtain a slight edge with 10. b3 e5 11. Ba3.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has a strong initiative for the sacrificed pawn. How should he proceed to make the best use of his superior piece placement?

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[June 25, 2017] Updated Opening Article by Boris Avrukh:
April 2017 Revisited: Sicilian Defense, Taimanov-Bastrikov Variation with 7… Bd6

Along with the Italian Game, this is one of our most frequently updated opening surveys. Though, admittedly, not as high profile as the Giuoco Piano, the fact that this line is played at pretty much all levels makes it a legitimate target for updating every now and then.

While our best mutual play still follows A. Motylev – M. Bosiočić, Moscow 2017, we consider A. Shirov – A. Hambleton, Reykjavík 2017 equally relevant for modern opening theory (our featured position follows the analysis of this important game). There is no doubt that this is a very topical and fashionable line, and we believe there is still plenty of room for improvement for both sides.

[Diagram: Black to Move] The diagrammed position comes from our analysis of the above mentioned game from the Reykjavík Open. Black’s kingside pawn structure is in shambles, so he has to do something quickly in order to survive. How would you proceed? – We think that this could be a very nice exercise for aspiring players, as both sides have to play with extreme accuracy until a drawn endgame is reached.

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[June 24, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Pirc Defense, Two Knights System

[Line 300 : 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Nf3]

Two Knights System is one of the most promising variations for White in the Pirc Defense. After the most common follow-up 4… Bg7 5. Be2 O-O 6. O-O arises a position where Black has a number of popular setups at his disposal.

After the classical 6… c6 7. a4 Nbd7 White is generally able to get somewhat better prospects with 8. a5, 8. Be3, and even with 8. h3.

The idea of 6… Bg4 is to trade that Bishop for the Knight on f3 at an appropriate moment, and later to press the d4-square with Nc6 and e7-e5.

In case of 6… a6 7. Re1 Black shouldn’t hurry with 7… b5 because White gets a big edge there with 8. e5. He should instead continue with 7… Nc6, though White’s position is a bit preferable after 8. d5 Ne5 9. Nxe5 dxe5 10. Bg5.

An unconventional move 6… e6 is connected with Nc6, where in case of d4-d5 Black has a nice square for that Knight on e7. Anyway, due to a slight space advantage, White is slightly better after 6… e6 7. Be3 Nc6 8. Qd2.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black has successfully defended from the attack along the h-file, yet his King remains vulnerable. How should White proceed to gain a substantial advantage?

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[June 23, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Rubinstein Variation (Russian Gambit, etc.)

[Line 082 : 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 dxc4 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 c5 6. O-O]

In the initial positon of this opening line Black almost exclusively plays 6… a6, where White has three very popular options: 7. Bb3 (Line 085), 7. dxc5 (Line 084), and 7. a4 (Line 083). However, it’s the other possibilities for White, such as 7. Bd3, 7. Qe2, 7. Nc3, and 7. e4, that can be found here.

By playing 7. Bd3 White prepares to meet the topical 7… b5 with 8. a4, weakening the Black’s kingside. For that reason, Black usually opts for 7… Nbd7, followed by b7-b6, or 7… cxd4 8. exd4 Be7, with even chances.

In case of 7. Qe2 a straightforward 7… b5 8. Bb3 Bb7 works fine for Black.

Black also gets sufficient counterplay after 7. Nc3 b5 8. Be2 Nbd7, while against the Russian Gambit (7. e4) Black can either accept it 7… Nxe4, or choose a more quiet 7… b5 8. Bd3 Bb7.

[Diagram: White to Move] White Queen is ready to create threats against the black King, but his position still appears reasonably safe. What would you play as White?

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[June 22, 2017] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation – Polugaevsky Variation

[Line 447 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Bc5]

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.

The most common continuation from the initial position is 6. Nb3, while alternatives, such as 6. c3, don’t seem as promising. The position arising after 6. Nb3 Be7 is examined in our Line 448, while another popular choice 6… Ba7 is covered in this line. White has two promising options here.

The positional 7. Qe2, followed by Be3, O-O, and later c2-c4, Nc3, gives White slightly better prospects due to a durable space advantage.

A more aggressive approach is 7. Qg4 and after 7… Nf6 White typically opts to place his Queen on an active square with 8. Qg3. White usually proceeds with Nc3, O-O and then either Kh1 and f2-f4, or Bg5, with slight initiative.

[Diagram: White to Move] T. Dvorak – T. Helis, Rybnik 2009. Black is undeveloped and his Queen could soon become endangered. What would you propose for White?

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[June 21, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
King’s Indian Defense, Larsen Variation & Other Sidelines after 5. Nf3

[Line 157 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3]

In the initial position of our Line 157 Black usually plays 5… O-O  where the main move 6. Be2 is covered in Lines 158-169.

Larsen Variation (5. Be3) is rarely employed nowadays, since Black gets a comfortable position after 5… e5 6. dxe5 dxe5 7. Qxd8 Rxd8.

Much more common option is 5. h3, where Black has many possibilities – among them 6… e5, 6… Na6, and 6… c5 are the most popular. Move 6… e5 is probably the best practical choice, where after 7. dxe5 dxe5 8. Qxd8 Rxd8 Black gets comfortable play. White usually opts for 7. d5, and here as alternatives to 7… Nh5 Black has 7… a5 and 7… Na6. The critical position arises after 7… Nh5 8. g3, where both 8… f5 and 8… Na6 provide Black with sufficient counterchances.

[Diagram: White to Move] D. Navara – L. Muhammad, Pardubice (rapid) 2014. White pieces are pressing the black King, but it still appears that Black is holding on. How should White proceed with the attack to gain an overwhelming advantage?

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