[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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[October 21, 2017] Updated Opening Line from GM Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Neo-Catalan Declined & The Romanishin Variation

[Line 040 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 without 3. Nc3, 3. d4]

Line 040 covers the Neo-Catalan lines in the English Opening, starting with 3. g3. The Romanishin Variation 3… a6!? is an interesting way to react, and is our recommendation for club level players. The main line goes 3… d5 4. Bg2 and deals with various Black’s responses, excluding 4… dxc4, which is covered in Line 041. This line is very fashionable among top level players, mostly thanks to Kramnik’s new ideas for White.

Among many highly instructive games we particularly recommend L. Aronian – R. Ponomariov, Tsaghkadzor 2015, A. Giri – V. Anand, Stavanger 2015 and V. Kramnik – D. Fridman, Dortmund 2013.

[Diagram: White to Move] Important question in the diagrammed position is what happens after White’s deliberate self-pinning with Ne5-d7. What’s your opinion?

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[October 20, 2016] Updated Opening Line by GM Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Tartakower Variation with 8. Bd3

[Line 264 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 O-O 7. e3 b6 8. Bd3]

Line 264 covers one of the main lines in the Tartakower Variation, where the commonly occurring positions are mostly quiet. It usually requires a few accuracies from Black to reach a satisfying position.

Though there is nothing wrong with moves 8… Nbd7 and 8… dxc4, the main 8… Bb7 is played more often. After 8… Bb7 9. Bxf6 Bxf6 10. cxd5 exd5 the ensuing position is roughly equal. Also, in variation 8… Bb7 9. O-O Nbd7 Black has no problems, for example 10. Qe2 c5 11. Bg3 Ne4 12. cxd5 exd5, and 10. Bg3 c5 11. cxd5 Nxd5 12. Nxd5 Bxd5, in both cases with equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] Find the way to launch a dangerous attack against the black King!

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[October 19, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Closed Defense with 8. d3 (incl. Pilnik Variation)

[Line 394 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. d3]

By choosing 8. d3, White shows that he doesn’t have too big expectations out of the opening – he mostly opts for slow positional maneuvering instead. Yet, in view of Black’s recent good results in the Marshall Attack, as well as in some fashionable Anti-Marshall lines, this line has become increasingly popular.

Black’s usual response is 8… d6, preparing the topical Na5. The main reaction from White is 9. c3, though 9. a3 is an interesting alternative. In both cases, Black gets roughly equal chances with Na5 and c7-c5. For example, after 9. c3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. Nbd2, Black’s position is fine both after 11… Na5 and 11… Re8.

[Diagram: White to Move] This position occurred in a top-level game C. Lutz – M. Adams, Germany 1994. Lutz, as White, managed to find an attractive path to exploit Black’s poor piece coordination and his poorly protected King.

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[October 18, 2016] Updated Opening Line by GM Vadim Zvjaginsev:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Classical Variation (Milner-Barry, Old Zuerich, Noa & San Remo Variations) 

[Line 175 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 without 4… c5, 4… O-O]

Move 4… O-O is covered in our Lines 180-185, while 4… c5 can be found in Lines 178-179.

The main topic of this opening line is the the Noa Variation (4… d5), where move 5. cxd5 is the subject of Lines 176-177. In the critical position, which occurs after 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 dxc4 7. Qxc4 b6, Black should have a reasonably satisfactory play.

On the other hand, we consider the San Remo Variation (4… d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 Ne4 7. Qc2 Nc6 8. e3) dangerous for Black, after 8… e5 9. f3!.

In the Milner-Barry Variation (4… Nc6 5. Nf3 d6) White should be able to secure a slight advantage after 6. Bd2 O-O 7. a3 Bxc3 8. Bxc3, thanks to his bishop pair.

[Diagram: White to Move] M. Carlsen – A. Onishcuk, Biel 2007. Young Carlsen missed the chance to win the game immediately. Can you see the winning idea for White?

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2016-03-02 - Update Line 074[October 17, 2016] Updated Opening Line from GM Dragan Paunović:
Trompowsky Attack with 2… e6

[Line 074 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 e6]

Reacting with 2… e6 against the Trompowsky Attack is one of the soundest ways to play it with Black, since it doesn’t allow White to double his opponent’s pawns after capturing on f6, and it also does not expose the knight by moving it to e4. White usually gets more space, but Black gets a bishop pair, like in the main line after 3. e4 h6 4. Bxf6 Qxf6. This line is often a choice that many top players opt for when faced with the Trompowsky Attack.

Position on the diagram is an important one to know, because it keeps appearing in so many games. Sometimes even some very strong grandmasters were on the receiving end of an elegant tactical blow that brings White quite close to winning a full point. Do you know this opening trap?

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