[February 21, 2018] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Flohr-Mikenas-Carls Variation

[Line 010 : 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 with 2… e6, 2… g6]

Two popular, yet substantially different, variations are examined in this line: 2… e6, aiming for the Nimzo-Indian/Queen’s Gambit Declined, or 2… g6, which is the choice of the King’s Indian Defense aficionados.

After 2… e6 3. e4 (Mikenas-Carls Variation) two moves are dominant choices of the players of Black, namely 3… d5 and 3… c5. Common continuations in these lines are the Flohr Variation 3… d5 4. e5 d4 5. exf6 dxc3 6. bxc3 Qxf6 7. Nf3 e5 and 3… c5 4. e5 Ng8 5. Nf3 Nc6, in both cases with mutual play.

If Black chooses 2… g6, White can either force the King’s Indian with 3. e4 d6 4. d4 or opt for the independent 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. e4, followed by Nge2 and short castling.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position occurred in several grandmaster games. Black has better pawn structure and he would be satisfied to develop his dark-squared Bishop and castle short. How should White fight his opponent’s plan and obtain a substantial advantage?

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[February 20, 2018] Updated Opening Line by GM Trajko Nedev:
Gruenfeld Defense, Russian Variation (Hungarian Variation)

[Line 149 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Qb3 dxc4 6. Qxc4 O-O 7. e4 a6]

The Hungarian Variation (7… a6) is the most popular choice among the Grünfeld aficionados against the Russian Variation.

The main line goes 8. Be2 b5 9. Qb3 c5 10. dxc5, where our recommendation for advanced players is 10… Be6 11. Qc2 Nbd7 (which is often seen in top-level games), and for club level players 10… Bb7 11. O-O Nxe4 12. Nxe4 Bxe4.

White has several alternatives on 8th move, but 8. e5 b5 9. Qb3 Nfd7 demands the most serious attention. Here again, White has two interesting options: namely – 10. e6 and 10. h4.

The overall evaluation of Black’s position in this line is pretty much the same like in the remaining lines of the Grünfeld Defense – good, yet quite demanding.

[Diagram: White to Move] D. Navara – A. Giri, Wijk aan Zee 2016. Whether it was his fantastic preparation or just a moment of inspiration, Navara’s next few moves are a real treat for your eyes!

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[February 19, 2018] Updated Opening Line from GM Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Modern Variation – Moscow Variation with 3… Nc6 (Main Line)

[Line 460 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nc6 4. O-O Bd7 5. Re1 Nf6 6. c3]

Since moves 6… g6 and 6… e6 in our opinion lead to White’s advantage, the only ambitious line for Black is 6… a6, where White has two principal continuations: 7. Ba4 and 7. Bf1. If we follow the first option, after 7… b5 8. Bc2 Bg4 we recommend either 9. d3 or 9. h3 for club level players, and 9. a4 for the advanced ones.

After 7. Bf1 Bg4, White again has an interesting choice between the solid 8. h3 and 8. d3, or mostly sharp 8. d4.

Although Black can equalize, highly accurate play is mandatory in most of the abovementioned lines!

[Diagram: White to Move] White has sacrificed both exchanges, and has the possibility to finish his opponent off. Hint: the e6-pawn is your main target!

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[February 21, 2018] Dusted Off: Opening Survey by GM Aleksandar Kovačević
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Kmoch Variation (4… Nc6)

Kmoch Variation of the Nimzo-Indian can be an extremely potent weapon in capable hands (e. g. Mamedyarov can be pretty convincing employing this variation as White, which is hardly surprising), which made our editor GM Kovačević re-evaluate his repertoire choices against this line.

GM Zvjaginsev’s Line 174 from our CHOPIN Encyclopedia was GM Kovačević’s reference point, and that’s where 4… Nc6 emerged as an option worth exploring. While Vadim’s original analysis remains correct, his work has been thoroughly updated, and much more. The final result is presented in this
article, and we believe that these analyses can be used as a reasonably decent foundation for Black’s repertoire against this tricky line.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black queen is trapped. Enter survival mode – can you do something against the seemingly inevitable Rh3?

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[February 17, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Reti Opening – King’s Indian Attack with 2… g6; Polish Defense

[Line 025 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 without 2. c4, 2. d4]

Since move 2. d4 is covered in our Line o76, and 2. c4 in Line 029, the main point of interest of this opening line is the Reti Opening 2. g3.

A type of the Polish Defense occurring after 2. g3 b5 is an unorthodox, yet perfectly viable variation. White has played g2-g3, and is practically obliged to proceed at some point with Bg2; hence, the exposed b5-pawn can not be attacked as easily as in the line 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b5.

After the more common 2… b6, White can again transpose to the English opening with 3. c4 or to the Queen’s Pawn game with 3. d4. The game usually continues 3. Bg2 Bb7 4. O-O e6 5. d3, followed either by c2-c4, or Nbd2 with e2-e4.

Black has many alternative setups, including a kingside fianchetto with 2… g6, while 2… d5 (Lines 026-028) leads to the main line of the Reti Opening.

We recommend 2. b3 for beginners. White’s plan includes Bb2, e2-e3 and c2-c4, with a small amount of theoretically important positions.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White’s last moves was 9. Bc3, intending to recapture with 10. Qxd2 on the next move, also defending the d4-pawn. If Black plays 9… Qb6, White will play another intermediate move 10. dxc5. So, what should Black do in the diagrammed position?

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[February 16, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Catalan Defense, Closed Variation with 4… Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2

[Line 236 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2]

After the most frequently played 7… a6, White has a choice between 8. Qxc4 (Lines 237-238) and the move that is the main focus of this opening line – 8. a4, which has gained a lot of popularity in recent years.

The main response to 8. a4 is certainly 8… Bd7, often followed by Bc6. Black’s plan typically involves a6-a5, Bxf3 and c6, which leads to very solid position. After 9. Qxc4 Bc6 White proceeds either with 10. Bg5 or 10. Bf4, and both of these move have been tried many times among the top-tier players. Apart from capturing the c4-pawn immediately with his queen, White can postpone it with 9. Rd1 Bc6 10. Nc3 or 9. Ne5 Bc6 10. Nxc6 Nxc6 11. e3. In both cases, Black is able to get equal chances, though it usually requires several accurate moves.

On 8th move Black has tried various alternatives to 8… Bd7, but only 8… c5 seems to give him good chances for equality. After 8… c5 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Nbd2 an interesting pawn sacrifice 10… b5!? 11. axb5 Bb7 12. bxa6 Nxa6 13. Qxc4 Bd5 leads to sufficient compensation for Black.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White’s last move was Nb1-c3, allowing Black the possibility to seize the initiative. What is the best way to continue as Black?

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