[September 24, 2018] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
Pillsbury Defense

[Line 051 : 1. d4 d6 without 2. Nf3, 2. e4]

Move 2. e4 transposes to Line 292, 2. Nf3 is covered separately in our Line 052, while 2. c4 is the main point of interest of this opening line.

After 2. c4 e5 two moves are considered to be of about the same strength: 3. Nf3 and 3. Nc3.

In the first case, the usual continuation is 3… e4 4. Ng5 f5 5. Nc3 Be7 6. Nh3 Nf6, where White has lost a few tempi with his Knight, but has gained some squares for his pieces in return. On the other hand, after 3. Nc3 exd4 4. Qxd4 Nc6 5. Qd2 Nf6, White’s plan is to make fianchettoes on both flanks and than try to control some extra space. In either case, Black can get equal chances with accurate play.

Other options for White, like 2. g3 and 2. Bg5, don’t seem to pose real problems to Black.

[Diagram: Black to Move] M. Simantsev – A. Vaulin, Bydgoszcz 1999. Black Rook on a4 and Knight on c6 are hanging. How can Black overcome the threats and obtain a longterm advantage?

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[September 23, 2018] Updated Opening Article by GM Dragan Paunović:
April 2016 Revisited: Nimzo-Indian Defense, Kmoch Variation with 4… c5

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 second update of this article and A. Grischuk – V. Topalov, Stavanger 2015 from the Altibox Norway Chess super tournament still remains Black’s best option in this line. GM Volkov has been the most successful player of White in this line over the past few years, but a number of correspondence games seem to offer a compelling case that Black can equalize in the main line without much difficulty.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Things are not looking good for Black – can you do something to help him?

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[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?

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[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?

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[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!

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[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?

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