[August 13, 2018] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
Semi-Slav, Noteboom Variation & Marshall Gambit

[Line 068 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 e6 with 4. Nf3, 4. e4]

Line 068 deals with the two most critical variations of the Semi-Slav: 4. Nf3 and 4. e4.

In the Noteboom Variation (4. Nf3 dxc4) the game usually continues with 5. a4 Bb4 6. e3 b5 7. Bd2 a5, and after the forced 8. axb5 Bxc3 9. Bxc3 cxb5 10. b3 Bb7 11. bxc4 b4 12. Bb2 occurs the main tabiya of this opening line. White has a strong pawn center while his opponent has connected passed pawns on the queenside. This position requires precise play from both sides, but Black’s task is a bit more sensitive.

The other principled choice for White is 4. e4 where 4… Bb4 leads to less demanding positions, but at the same time leaves White with somewhat better prospects. More ambitious line for Black is 4… dxe4 5. Nxe4 Bb4+. Here 6. Nc3, which typically leads to quiet positions, was successfully used by Carlsen in the third game of the World Championship match against Anand, in Chennai in 2013.

Move 6. Bd2 is the introductory move of the Marshall Gambit in the Semi-Slav. After 6… Qxd4 7. Bxb4 Qxe4+ White has a choice between two moves of about the same strength: 8. Be2 and 8. Ne2. In both cases White has sufficient compensation for the pawn, though Black, if he plays correctly, should eventually get equal chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] Coordination of Black pieces is very poor and White can launch a decisive attack with the right continuation. Can you see how?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[August 12, 2018] Pick of the Week by GM Boris Avrukh
August 2016 Revisited: Sicilian Najdorf, Adams Attack

We have updated this article after two years, and we recommend the following three theoretically important games that stand out:

V. Anand – M. Vachier Lagrave, London 2016, H. Bellman – G. Mueller, corr. 2015 and M. Ruefenacht – N. Janzen, corr. 2015.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White’s bishop pair and his advanced pawns will soon become unstoppable if Black does not act quickly. Any ideas?

Click here to see the updated article in our viewer.


[August 11, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Petrosian Variation – Farago Defense (incl. Hedgehog Variation)

[Line 207 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Ba6 5. Qc2]

After directing the white Queen to c2, Black usually goes back with his light-squared Bishop 5… Bb7 (Farago Defense) and then plays c7-c5, making use of the fact that now White can no longer push his pawn to d5. As a consequence, when Black captures with the pawn on d4, a Hedgehog setup arises.

The most common follow up begins with 5… Bb7 6. Nc3 c5 7. e4 cxd4 8. Nxd4. Now in case of 8… Bc5 White gets a small edge after 9. Nb3 Nc6 10. Nxc5 bxc5 11. Be3. Move 8… Nc6 seems to be the best option for Black, and after 9. Nxc6 Bxc6 White’s logical continuation is 10. Bf4 followed by either Rd1 or O-O-O, controling a little bit more space then the opponent. Black often opts for 10… Bc5, then proceeds with O-O, a7-a5 and e7-e5, deploying his pieces on the Black squares.

[Diagram: Black to Move] W. Schmidt – S. Marjanović, Vrnjačka Banja 1983. White has made a typical sacrifice of d-pawn, counting on the e4-b7 pin. Still, there is an oversight in his calcutation that allows Black to obtain a better position!

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[August 10, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Slav Defense, Schlechter Variation

[Line 088 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 without 4… a6, 4… Bg4, 4… e6, 4… Bf5]

The most frequent moves in this variation are covered in separate lines: 4… a6 in Line 090, 4… Bg4 in Lines 091-092, 4… e6 in Line 093 and 4… Bf5 in Lines 094-097.

Line 088 mainly deals with the Schlechter Variation (4… g6). The fact that the e-pawn is already on e3 is generally in Black’s favor, because White’s dark-squared Bishop cannot be deployed on f4.

Move 5. Nc3 is the most active reaction for White. After 5… Bg7 the main move 6. Be2 can be found in Line 089. Against the alternative plan that begins with 6. Bd3 O-O 7. O-O Black can trade his light-squared Bishop for the Knight on f3 with 7… Bg4 8. h3 Bxf3 9. Qxf3 e6. White thus gets to keep the bishop pair, but Black has a solid position without weaknesses.

Apart from the abovementioned variation, there are two more interesting options for White on 5th move: 5. Nbd2 followed by Bd3, and 5. Be2 Bg7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nbd2.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black has sacrificed the e7-pawn, and now the Rook on f8 is under attack; what is the best way for him to continue?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[August 09, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation with 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 (incl. Browne Variation)

[Line 482 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 with 7… Nbd7, 7… Be7]

Two very demanding and dynamic variations, 7… Nbd7 and 7… Be7, are covered in this opening line. These variations are interconnected, often transposing to the same positions, because both Nbd7 and Be7 are part of the Black’s plan.

Against 7… Nbd7 most popular choices of the players of White are 8. Qf3 and 8. Qe2.

After 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O b5 White has numerous options, among them 10. Bd3 Bb7 11. Rhe1 Qb6, 10. e5 Bb7 11. Qh3 dxe5 12. Nxe6 fxe6 13. Qxe6+ Be7 and 10. Bxb5 axb5 11. Ndxb5 Qb8 require mutual precise play.

Another common continuation is 8. Qe2 Qc7 9. O-O-O b5 9. a3 Bb7 10. g4 Be7, where players of White have tried 11. Bh4 (with idea g4-g5), 11. f5 e5 12. Bxf6 Nxf6 13. Nb3 and 11. Bg2.

[Diagram: White to Move] H. Muller – E. Ramini, corr. 2013. How can White gain a big advantage making use of the fact that Black has an uncastled king?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[August 08, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Slav Defense – Stoltz Variation (Main Line with 9… a6)

[Line 284 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. O-O dxc4 9. Bxc4 a6]

Move 9… a6 leads to one of the critical lines of the Stoltz Variation of the Semi-Slav Defense. The idea is to protect the b5-square, planning the typical b7-b5, c6-c5 and Bb7.

The main choice of players of White is 10. Rd1, and after 10… b5 there are four responses deserving attention: 11. Be2, 11. Bd311. Bf1 and even leaving the Bishop under attack with 11. e4!?, followed by e4-e5.

If White fights the abovementioned plan with 10. a4, Black gets a satisfactory position with 10… c5 11. dxc5 Bxc5, where he White can no longer carry out the common plan with a2-a3 and b2-b4.

Apart from the mentioned lines on the 10th move, White can also opt for 10. Bd2, 10. e4 or 10. a3, in any case with balanced positions rich with possibilities for both sides.

[Diagram: Black to Move] C. Teichmann – A. Kochemasov, corr. 2010. Black’s attack is obviously very dangerous, but can he finish off the opponent?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…