[May 05, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Caro-Kann Defense, Classical Variation (incl. Flohr Variation)

[Line 310 : 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5]

After the main choice 5. Ng3 Bg6, move 6. h4 is covered in our Lines 311-314, while here you can find various sidelines, like the quiet 6. Nf3, more ambitious 6. Bc4 (with the idea Ng1-e2-f4), and, as our main line – the Flohr Variation (6. Nh3). The game usually continues 6. Nh3 Nf6 7. Nf4 and now, depending on one’s taste, Black plays either 7… Nbd7 (followed by Qc7, e6 and Bd6), or 7… e5, often leading to simplifications.

Besides 5. Ng3, White has another interesting possibility at his disposal- 5. Nc5, which we recommend to club level players. Black can react with 5… b6, slightly weakening his queenside, or with a temporary pawn sacrifice. There are basically two ways to sacrifice the pawn: either with 5… Nd7 6. Nxb7 Qc7 7. Nc5 Nxc5 8. dxc5 e5, or with 5… e5 6. Nxb7 Qb6 7. Nc5 exd4 – either way, the arising position are about equal.

[Diagram: White to Move] R. Mamedov – V. Anand, Baku (rapid) 2009. In the diagrammed position from a rapid game, Anand missed his opponent’s next move, which caused him great difficulties. How did Mamedov make use of his great opponent’s inaccurate opening play?

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[May 04, 2018] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Four Knights Variation – Kingside Fianchetto with 4… Bb4

[Line 017 : 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 Bb4]

Kingside Fianchetto with 4… Bb4 in the Four Knights Variation was the battlefield of many games of two memorable duels – between Karpov and Kortchnoi in the ’70s and between Karpov and Kasparov in the ’80s.

Beside the main 5. Bg2, White has at his disposal another move of equivalent strength – 5. Nd5, where Black has a choice of his own among the following: 5… Bc5, 5… e4, 5… Be7 and 5… a5.

After 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O Black has three notable options: 6… d6, 6… Bxc3 and 6… e4.

Against the solid 6… d6 White usually continues with 7. d3 or 7. Nd5. In the line 6… e4 7. Ng5 Bxc3 8. bxc3 Re8 9. f3 e3 there is typically a very tense struggle, while after 6… Bxc3 7. bxc3 Re8 8. d3 e4 9. Nd4 exd3 10. exd3 Nxd4 11. cxd4 d5 occurs an original position, where White has a bishop pair, and Black relies on his slightly better pawn structure.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has sacrificed a Knight and has a promising attack. If he continues with 16. Qh5, Black has a strong response in 16… Qg4. How can White neutralize his opponent’s plan and complete a decisive maneuver?

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[May 03, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Catalan Defense, Closed Variation – Main Line with 8. Bf4 Nbd7 9. Qc2

[Line 233 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O c6 8. Bf4 Nbd7 9. Qc2]

For those aiming to avoid theoretical discussions with Black pieces, we recommend 9… a5 10. Rd1 b5, hoping to seize some space on the queenside.

Black can also opt for a rather common plan with 9… Nh5 10. Bc1 Nhf6, followed by b7-b6 and Bb7, which typically gives Black a very sound position.

Another sideline is 9… Ne4, which is often followed by g7-g5 and f7-f5. Though White’s chances are slightly preferable, in our opinion Black has sufficient counterplay.

The main continuation is 9… b6 10. Rd1 Bb7, and here White has many possibilities. The usual continuation is 11. Ne5 Nh5 12. Bd2 Nhf6 13. cxd5 cxd5 14. Nc6 Bxc6 15. Qxc6 Rc8, but 11. Nc3 dxc4 12. Nd2 Nd5 13. Nxc4 Nxf4 14. gxf4 Qc7 is also perfectly playable. In both cases Black should equalize without difficulties.

[Diagram: Black to Move] C. Bauer – V. Ivanchuk, Cap d’Adge (rapid) 2012. Ivanchuk had no problems finding the surprising move, which immediately led to winning some material. Can you see what Black played in the diagrammed position?

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[May 02, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
King’s Indian Defense, Orthodox Variation with 6… e5 7. O-O Nbd7

[Line 163 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nbd7]

The old line of the Orthodox Variation of KID (7… Nbd7) is not frequently seen in modern grandmaster games, but its flexibility makes it a good weapon for players who want to avoid heavily explored lines.

There are three dominant replies – 8. Re1, 8. Qc2 and 8. Be3, where the last one probably promises the best chances if White wants to ambitiously fight for opening advantage.

Against 8. Be3 we recommend either 8… Qe7 or 8… c6 to club level players, whereas the advanced ones will probably feel more comfortable with 8… Re8. White generally has better chances, but Black also has his trumps in practical play.

[Diagram: Black to Move] In double-edged positions attacking the opponent’s King is typically more important than the material count. Having that in mind, how can Black get a dangerous attack in the diagrammed position?

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[May 01, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
French Defense, Normal Variation – Burn Variation with 6… Bxf6

[Line 342 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Be7 6. Bxf6 Bxf6]

White gets a bit better development in the early stage of the game, but Black’s position is without weaknesses, and if he succeeds in parrying White’s initial threats, he typically gets good prospects. After 7. Nf3 O-O there are many possibilities for White, and we’ll mention here just the most popular ones.

The main line goes 8. Qd2 Nd7 9. O-O-O Be7 and White plays either in the center – like in 10. Bc4 Nf6 11. Nxf6+ Bxf6 12. Rhe1, or (more frequently) exerts pressure on the kingside, for instance: 10. Bd3 b6 11. h4.

Quite similar, yet with subtle differences is the following line: 8. Qd3 Nd7 9. O-O-O b6 10. h4 Bb7 11. Kb1.

There is also an interesting option to deploy the light-squared bishop first with 8. Bc4, with the idea to play Qe2 and O-O-O. Black can react with 8… Nc6 9. c3 e5 10. d5 Ne7, again with sufficient counterplay.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position is somewhat typical of this opening line – Black has a bishop pair, and white Knights are aiming towards his opponent’s King. However, the position is not balanced, as White can immediately launch a very strong attack. How can he do it?

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[April 30, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Closed Sicilian (incl. Traditional, Chameleon, Fianchetto & Vinken Systems)

[Line 416 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 without 3. Nf3]

Line 416 covers the Traditional Variation (2… Nc6) of the Closed Sicilian. White has an opportunity to transpose to the Open Sicilian with 3. Nf3, but usually opts for some of the available alternatives:

The Vinken System (3. f4) is an aggressive option, where Black reacts either with 3… g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 or 3… e6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb5 Nge7, in both cases with mutual play.

The idea of the Chameleon System (3. Nge2) is to prepare the d2-d4 advance, while in case of 3… e5 White has some benefits of the placement of his knight on e2 – he can transfer it later to c3.

The most modern approach is 3. Bb5, with the idea to capture on c6, followed by f2-f4 and Nf3. After 3… Nd4 White generally responds with 4. Bc4 or, less often, with 4. Nf3.

The Fianchetto System (3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. d3 d6) is the most classical treatment of the Closed Sicilian, and here White has a choice between 6. f4 with Nf3 and O-O, or 6. Be3 with Qd2.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has sacrificed a pawn to weaken Black’s kingside and launch the attack. What is the best way to continue?

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