[September 23, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Ruy Lopez, Closed Defense – Chigorin Variation (Classical Variation with 12… cxd4 13. cxd4 Nc6)

[Line 413 : 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 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Qc7 12. Nbd2 cxd4 13. cxd4 Nc6]

This opening line deals with the main line of the Chigorin Variation in the Ruy Lopez.

Though moves 14. a3 and 14. d5 have been tried many times, they typically don’t pose serious problems to the players of Black, so 14. Nb3 represents a much more common option. After the usual follow-up 14. Nb3 a5 15. Be3 a4 16. Nbd2, moves 16… Be6 and 16… Nb4 are the alternatives to the main 16… Bd7. The game typically proceeds with 17. Rc1 Qb7, where White has several playable options. Among them 18. Qe2 and 18. Nf1 are the most promising moves that give White slightly better prospects.

[Diagram: White to Move] It seems like Black has a good counterplay along the c-file, but White’s initiative on the kingside is much stronger. How should White continue to gain a big advantage?

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[September 22, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Scotch Game (incl. Mieses, Tartakower & Malaniuk Variations); Goering Gambit

[Line 359 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4]

In the position arising after 3… exd4 4. Nxd4 players of Black have tried various moves, among which 4… Bc5 (covered in our Lines 361-362) and 4… Nf6 are by far the most popular ones. In case of 4… Qf6, in addition to 5. Nxc6 Bc5 (transposing to Line 362) and 5. Be3 Bc5 (dealt with in Line 361), White has an interesting option in 5. Nb5 Bc5 6. Qd2. Another sideline is the Malaniuk Variation (4… Bb4+), where White is able to gain a slight edge with 5. c3 Bc5 6. Be3 Bb6 7. Nf5.

The main topic of this opening line is 4… Nf6 with 5. Nxc6 bxc6 being the usual follow-up, where 6. Bd3 and 6. Qe2 are rarely seen alternatives to the more common Mieses Variation 6. e5. The main line goes 6. e5 Qe7 7. Qe2 Nd5 8. c4 with both 8… Ba6 (Line 360) and 8… Nb6 frequently seen in the modern grandmaster practice. Against any of these moves Black has more than one way to obtain roughly equal chances.

The Goering Gambit (3… exd4 4. c3), as well as the Tartakower Variation (3… exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. Nd2) hardly pose serious problems to the players of Black, which is the main reason for their rare occurrence in modern tournament practice.

[Diagram: White to Move] Can you find the winning move sequence for White in the diagrammed position?

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[September 21, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation – English Attack with 6… e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3

[Line 498 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 without 8… Be7]

Apart from the main line 8… Be7 covered in our Lines 499-500, Black has the following two options: 8… h5 and 8… Nbd7.

The idea of 8… h5 is to prevent White from launching a typical kingside pawn advance with g2-g4-g5. The game then usually continues with 9. Qd2 Nbd7 10. Nd5, where 10… Nxd5 11. exd5 Bf5 is an interesting sideline. Players of Black more frequently opt for 10… Bxd5 11. exd5 g6, followed by Bg7 and O-O, with reasonably decent prospects.

Against 8… Nbd7 White’s common response is 9. g4. Black now has two possibilities of about the same strength – 9… Nb6 and 9… b5, both giving him sufficient counterplay.

[Diagram: Black to Move] T. Luther – R. Wendt, Bad Wiessee 1998. Black is able to reach a winning position with the right move. What would you propose?

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[September 20, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Maroczy Bind without 5… Bg7 (incl. Gurgenidze Variation)

[Line 431 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. c4 without 5… Bg7]

Move 5… Bg7 is the topic of our Line 433, while we deal here with equally popular 5… Nf6. After the most common 5… Nf6 6. Nc3 d6, White has a choice between 7. f3 Nxd4 8. Qxd4 Bg7 9. Be3, 7. Nc2 Bg7 8. Be2, and the most frequently played 7. Be2 Nxd4 8. Qxd4 Bg7. Against the latter setup, White usually opts for one of the following two possibilities – 9. Be3 (covered in Line 432) and 9. Bg5.

The main variation of this opening line goes 9. Bg5 O-O 10. Qd2 where as an alternative to 10… Be6, followed by Qa5 and Rfc8, Black also has 10… a5, typically followed by a5-a4 and Qa5. The overall assessment is that the ensuing positions are a bit more pleasant for White, but Black should be able to equalize with accurate play.

[Diagram: Black to Move] J. Polgar – A. Antunes, Yerevan 1996. By playing 20. b3-b4 Judith missed her opponent’s reply, leading to an almost decisive edge for Black. What did Black play?

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[September 19, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation (Miscellaneous)

[Line 381 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 without 4. Ba4]

The main variation of the Ruy Lopez (4. Ba4) is dealt with in our Lines 383-413, while this opening line covers a good part of the Exchange Variation (4. Bxc6). After the almost exclusive response 4… dxc6 White has two sidelines (5. Nc3 and 5. d4) at his disposal, but 5. O-O is by far the predominantly played move. Two of the frequent choices after 5. O-O – 5… f6 and 5… Bg4 are the topic of our Line 382, while other playable options can be found here.

Variation 5… Qf6 6. d4 exd4 7. Bg5 Qd6 8. Nxd4 has recently become increasingly popular, where both 8… Be7 and 8… Bd7 lead to positions with roughly equal chances.

Another fashionable continuation is 5… Bd6 6. d4 exd4 7. Qxd4 f6, where again Black has sufficient resources to equalize.

From other notable options for Black we will mention 5… Be6, 5… Qd6, 5… Be7 and 5… Ne7; among them 5… Be6 is our recommendation for club level players.

[Diagram: White to Move] L. Vajda – Ki. Georgiev, Herceg Novi 2008. Black’s last move was capturing the Bishop with 16… Be7xg5, expecting the obvious 17. Nxg5. However, there is a stronger reply for White, leading to an almost decisive edge. Can you find it?

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[September 18, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Caro-Kann Defense, Karpov Variation with 5. Ng5 (incl. Ivanchuk Defense)

[Line 309 : 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Ng5]

The Ivanchuk Defense (5… Ndf6) is rarely seen in modern practice, since here White gets better prospects in more than one way.

In case of 5… h6 White holds a long-term initiative after 6. Ne6 Qa5+ 7. Bd2 Qb6 8. Bd3.

The main tabiya of this line of the Caro-Kann Defense occurs after 5… Nhf6 6. Bd3 e6 7. N1f3 Bd6 8. Qe2 h6 9. Ne4 Nxe4 10. Qxe4. Now moves 10… Nf6 and 10… c5 lead to positions that are in White’s favor, so 10… Qc7 is a more common choice. Variation 11. Qg4 Kf8 12. Be3 is a rarely played alternative to the usual 11. O-O b6 12. Qg4 where after 12… Kf8 moves 13. b3, 13. Qh4 and 13. Re1 deserve serious attention.

[Diagram: White to Move] V. Ivanov – V. Bachin, 2005. White has already made a Knight sacrifice and now needs to justify it. How should he proceed to get a substantial edge?

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