[October 27, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Rossolimo Variation (Miscellaneous)

[Line 424 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 without 3… d6, 3… g6]

Line 424 covers various sidelines on Black’s third move, like 3… Nf6, 3… a6 and 3… Qc7 – just to name a few, while the main topic of this opening line is 3… e6. Lines without 4. O-O are also examined here (variations with the short castling belong to Line 425), and the main line is 3… e6 4. Bxc6.

It’s a very popular line where mostly strategic battles arise – White can typically count on his better pawn structure, whereas Black relies on his bishop pair.

[Diagram: White to Move] In the old game J.Timman – N. Short, Hilversum 1989, White had an excellent opportunity to gain a strong initiative. Hint: White should try to make use of Black’s horribly misplaced Queen.

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[October 26, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Orthodox Variation (incl. Botvinnik & Rauser Variations)

[Line 258 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 without 5… c6, 5… h6]

The main line of the Orthodox Variation, when Black plays 5… h6, is covered in our Lines 259-264, while this opening line deals with the alternatives.

After the quite common 5… O-O 6. e3 Nbd7, White has a choice between the Botvinnik Variation (8. Bd3), Rauser Variation (8. Qb3), and the following three popular options – 7. Rc1, 7. Qc2 and 7. cxd5. In most of these lines, Black’s best reaction is to transpose to the corresponding lines with h7-h6, since otherwise White gets slightly better prospects.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black is behind in development and his King is weakened. White Rook on h1 is the only inactive piece, so White plays an unexpected maneuver to launch a decisive attack!

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[October 25, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
Ruy Lopez, Open Variation (Miscellaneous)

[Line 389 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4]

Line 389 belongs to “old-school” lines that have recently been revamped quite successfully. Even some rarely employed sidelines have returned to spotlight, e. g. the line from R. Fischer – F. Ólafsson, Havana (ol) 1966, which saw its revival at the top level fifty years after the original game was played: first in F. Caruana – Wei Yi, Wijk aan Zee 2016, and less than two months later in Hou Yifan – M. Muzychuk, Lviv (m/4) 2016.

After the most commonly played 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 White has a choice between 9. Nbd2 covered in our Line 390, and several alternatives, including 9. Be3, 9. c3 and 9. Qe2. The overall evaluation of these lines is that Black is able to equalize with precise play.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Hou Yifan – M. Muzychuk, Lviv (m/4) 2016. Black’s attack seems to have reached a point of impasse, but former Women’s World Champion Mariya Muzychuk finds an attractive way to inject some fresh life into it.

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[October 24, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Aleksandar Kovačević:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Classical Variation – Keres Defense with 7. Bg5

[Line 184 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 b6 7. Bg5]

The Keres Defense, starting with 6… b6, is one of the main lines in the Nimzo-Indian. Except for 7… Bb7 8. e3, which can be seen in our Line 185, Line 184 covers all other lines beginning with 7. Bg5. Most positions in these variations are typically quiet, and the main line 7… Bb7 8. f3 h6 9. Bh4 d5 10. e3 Nbd7 11. cxd5 often leads straight to endgame after 11… Nxd5 12. Bxd8 Nxc3, where White has a bishop pair, but Black’s advantage in development gives him good chances to equalize.

[Diagram: White to Move] If White retreats his Bishop with 13. Bf2, Black will play 13… Nxd5, followed by Nc6 and very quick development. However, it’s White’s turn to move, and he has a promising chance to exploit the fact that black King is a bit exposed.

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[October 23, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
Nimzowitsch, St. George & Basman Defenses; Alekhine Defense without 4. Nf3

[Line 286 : 1. e4 without 1… c5, 1… e5, 1… e6, 1… c6, 1… d6, 1… d5, 1… g6]

Line 286 covers several offbeat openings, such as Nimzowitsch (1… Nc6), Owen (1… b6) & St. George (1… a6) defenses, as well as a significant part of the Alekhine Defense (lines that arise in the Alekhin Defense after 1… Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 are covered in our Line 287). Here you can find the Four Pawns Attack (1… Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. c4 Nb6 5. f4), which attacking players find particularly appealing. For those more positionally oriented we recommend the Exchange Variation (1… Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. c4 Nb6 5. exd6), which we consider quite promising for the players of White.

[Diagram: White to Move] S. Smagin – D. Šahović, Biel 1990. If Black could exchange a couple of minor pieces, he would reach a satisfactory position. To prevent this plan, Smagin came up with a nice way to launch a dangerous attack. What did he play?

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[October 22, 2017] Updated Opening Article by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
September 2016 Revisited: Ruy Lopez, Flohr-Zaitsev Variation with 11… cxd4

This line can occasionally be seen even at the top level, which makes this update all the more interesting as it contains several important contributions from the best engines that reveal significant improvements on grandmaster-level games, as well as some top-tier games, most notably including V. Anand – S. Mamedyarov, Moscow 2016.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position can be found in our analysis of a last year’s game between two good WGMs: D. Ciuksyte  – I. Bulmaga, Reykjavik 2015. Our article features an important improvement for White, and the key point lies in the next move: although it seems that White has to choose between two reasonable recaptures on e5, there is actually a third possibility that makes great use of the black pieces’ lack of coordination.  

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