[February 06, 2018] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation – Taimanov-Bastrikov Variation with 6. Nxc6

[Line 452 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Nxc6]

The Paulsen Variation with early 5… a6 allows White to capture the knight on c6, where Black is practically forced to recapture with his b-pawn – 6… bxc6. White’s main reaction is then 7. Bd3, followed by 7… d5 8. O-O.

After 8… Nf6, White has a choice among several equally promising options: 9. Re1, 9. Qf3 and 9. Qe2; he can also opt for some reasonably interesting sidelines.

Though Black’s position has a reputation of being solid, it is quite tricky and demands careful treatment.

[Diagram: White to Move] It seems like Black has enough resources to defend his king, but White’s unexpected tactical blow breaks through his opponent’s defense. How can White reach a practically winning position?

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[February 05, 2016] Updated Opening Line by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
King’s Indian Defense, Carlsbad Variation – Panno Variation

[Line 129 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O Nc6 7. Nc3 a6]

Line 129 covers the main line of the Carslbad Variation of the King’s Indian Defense – the Panno Variation, i.e. 7… a6, with the idea Rb8 and b7-b5.

White literally has a dozen interesting possibilities, all of them leading to complex positions with mutual chances.

Immediate 8. d5 followed by Nd2, Rb1 and b3 seems like a good choice for club level players.

8. Bf4 followed by Rc1 is a fashionable choice among the players from the elite  2700+ club, like in M. Carlsen – H. Nakamura, Saint Louis 2013 game, or in the more recent Bu Xiangzhi – Ding Liren, Danzhou 2014.

Prophylactic 8. h3 is another frequently played line, and 9. b3 is, in our opinion, the most promising line for White. After 9. b3 Rb8, White usually continues either with 10. Bb2 or 10. Nd5.

[Diagram: White to Move] Rook on a1 is under attack, as well as the c4-pawn, so it looks like Black will be able to get back the material with a reasonably good position. However, White has an unexpected reaction that secures him a long-term advantage!

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[February 04, 2018] Updated Opening Article by GM Dragan Paunović:
June 2015 Revisited: Queen’s Gambit Declined: Semi-Slav with 9… b5 (12… 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.

In our stem game Jan-Krzyzstof Duda, one of the world’s fastest rising stars, took a gamble with Black against his compatriot Kamil Miton, and it paid off handsomely. This update brings new developments from a number of grandmaster encounters, but (in our opinion) our original verdict still remains unchallenged.

The entire variation is quite important from the purely theoretical point of view, and we believe that we’ve managed to find a promising line for the players of White, in spite of many looming dangers along the way.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White is two pawns up and has a bishop pair, while Black pieces seem uncoordinated. Can Black create sufficient counterplay before White consolidates?

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[February 03, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Pawn Game – Jussupow-Rubinstein & London Systems; Colle System

[Line 112 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 without 3. Bg5, 3. c4, 3. g3]

Jussupow-Rubinstein System (3. e3) is a solid but not too ambitious variation for White. This setup most often includes Bd3, O-O, b2-b3, Bb2 and c2-c4. Black has a choice between the immediate d7-d5 and c7-c5 or a more or less symmetrical piece arrangement: b7-b6, Bb7, d7-d5 and Bd6.

The Colle System is a very simple plan for White and, as such, quite suitable for the beginners. White plays e2-e3, Bd3, O-O, c2-c3 and Nbd2, often followed by Ne5 and f2-f4.

London System (3. Bf4) has some similarities with the 3. e3 system. White usually proceeds with e2-e3, h2-h3, Bd3 and O-O. Black, again, has a few paths to obtain equal chances, but White’s cautious play typically does not allow his opponent too much activity.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black seems able to defend from White’s threats, and black Queen is planing to flee over b4 to a5. How should White continue to obtain the advantage?

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[February 02, 2018] Updated Opening Line by GM Dragan Barlov:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Slav Defense – Meran (Reynolds Variation)

[Line 277 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3 a6]

8… a6 is a classical continuation in the Meran Defense, that was played in a few games during the Meran 1924 tournament, where this defense was officially born!

After 9. e4 c5, the Reynolds Variation 10. d5 is not considered particularly dangerous, as it gives Black comfortable play after 10… c4.

The main variation in this line is 10. e5 cxd4, where White’s only serious try is 11. Nxb5. Black now has two interesting choices: the most popular is 11… axb5 12. exf6 gxf6, and the equally interesting alternative is  11… Nxe5 12. Nxe5 axb5 13. Bb5+ Bd7. In our opinion, line 11… Ng4 12. Qa4 Bb7 13. Nbxd4 is an inferior choice that leads to favorable positions for White.

The most memorable game in these lines is V. Kramnik – V. Anand, Bonn (m/5) 2008, played in the World Championship match, where Anand scored an important victory.

This line should give Black sufficient resources to get satisfactory play, though some accuracies are certainly required.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position stems from an engine game. Our silicon friends are merciless when some tactics occur. Without further ado, White to play and win!

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[February 01, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Reti Opening, King’s Indian Attack with 2… c5

[Line 023 : 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 without 2… c6, 2… Nf6]

Move 2… Nf6 is covered in our Lines 026-028, while 2… c6 is the topic of our Line 024. There are also many other possible setups for Black, and they are dealt with here in Line 023.

The idea of 2… Bg4 is Nd7, e7-e6, Bd6 and then either Ne7 or Ngf6, all the while delaying c7-c6. An illustrative line could be 3. Bg2 Nd7 4. O-O e6 5. d3 Bd6 6. Nbd2 Ne7, with equality.

Early kingside fianchetto 2… g6 is another popular option. Black usually proceeds with Bg7, e7-e5 and Ne7. If at some moment White plays c2-c4, Black can decide between taking the pawn with dxc4, advancing d5-d4, or defending the pawn with either c7-c6 or Nf6.

After the active 2… c5 occurs a reversed King’s Indian Defense (3. Bg2 Nc6 4. O-O e5) or reversed Gruenfeld Defense (3. Bg2 Nc6 4. d4), in both cases with equal chances.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Taking the poisoned pawn in the diagrammed position turns out to be a big mistake for White. How does Black gain an almost decisive advantage?

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