[December 13, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Catalan Defense, Open Defense with 5… a6

[Line 242 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 dxc4 5. Bg2 a6]

Open Defense with 5… a6 is one of the sharpest lines in the Catalan Defense.

Move 6. O-O is the main choice of the players of White where 6… b5, although interesting, is generally considered preferable for White. For example, 7. Ne5 Nd5 8. a4 Bb7 9. axb5 axb5 10. Rxa8 Bxa8 11. e4 Nf6 12. Nc3, with the initiative. Somewhat better option for Black is 6… Nc6, where players of White have tried numerous replies. Among them 7. e3 poses the most problems to Black. After 7… Bd7 as an alternative to the main 8. Nc3 White sometimes opts for 8. Qe2 b5 9. b3 cxb3 10. axb3, with sufficient compensation for the sacrificed pawn.

There is another popular option for White – 6. Ne5, where Black has two possibilities that should be enough to equalize: 6… c5 and 6… Bb4+.

[Diagram: White to Move] D. Refalo – R. Sanchez Ortega, corr. 2010. Black is a pawn up but his King is poorly protected. What is the best way for White to launch an attack and get a big advantage?

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[December 12, 2018] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
Four Knights Game, Spanish Variation without 4… Nd4 (incl. Double Ruy Lopez)

[Line 374 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Nc3 without 4… Nd4]

The Spanish Variation, though nominally a part of the Four Knights Game, is typically reached by transposition as an Anti-Berlin reaction from White (at least in recent years).

The so-called Double Ruy Lopez, starting with 4… Bb4, is covered as the main variation in Line 374. As a viable alternative, there is also 4… Bc5, which generally leads to satisfactory positions for Black.

[Diagram: White to Move] In an engine game White failed to find the best way to re-ignite his attack. What was the best way to proceed?

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[December 11, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Dragon Variation – Yugoslav Attack

[Line 466 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4]

The Yugoslav Attack in the Dragon Variation is certainly one of the most daring lines in the modern chess theory.

The most popular continuation is 9… Bd7. If White opts for 10. Bb3 Black has, apart from 10… Rc8, two extra possibilities: 10… Nxd4 11. Bxd4 b5 and 10… Na5, both with roughly equal chances.

The main move is 10. O-O-O, where Black has, besides the most common 10… Rc8, two also interesting options: 10… Rb8 (Chinese Variation) and 10… Qb8. The game is very sharp and with mutual chances in both of these sidelines, though  White’s position, if played accurately, should be slightly preferable.

One of the best known tabiyas of the Dragon Variation occurs after 10… Rc8 11. Bb3 Ne5. Now, lines 12. Kb1 Re8 and 12. h4 h5 are considered to be of about the same strength, both leading to highly complex positions.

For club level players we recommend rarely played, yet viable, 9… Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Be6 leading to positions that are balanced, but a bit easier to play with white pieces.

[Diagram: White to Move] The end of a famous game: A. Karpov – V. Korchnoi, Moscow (m/2) 1974. To crack his opponent’s defense White needs to remove the black Knight from protecting the h7-pawn. White to play and win!

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[December 10, 2018] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Four Knights Variation – Kingside Fianchetto

[Line 014 : 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 without 4… d5, 4… Bb4]

The most frequently seen choices of Black are 4… d5 (Lines 015 & 016) and 4… Bb4 (Line 017), while 4… Nd4, 4… Bc5 and 4… g6 are also considered to be fine for him.

After 4… Nd4 White should avoid taking the pawn with 5. Nxe5, since Black gets strong compensation after 5… Qe7 6. f4 d6 7. Nd3 Bf5. Therefore, the game usually continues 5. Bg2 Nxf3+ 6. Bxf3 where both 6… Bb4 and 6… Bc5 are sufficient for getting equal positions.

In case of 4… Bc5, White can decide between dynamical 5. Nxe5 Bxf2+ 6. Kxf2 Nxe5 7. e4 c5 and quiet 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O O-O.

Move 4… g6 is considered a sideline, though the position arising after 5. d4 exd4 6. Nxd4 Bg7 gives Black enough resources to equalize.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White King is exposed and his Queen is unprotected, which gives Black motives to seize the initiative. What should he play?

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[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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