[July 06, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Sidelines & Exchange Variation

[Line 171 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 without 3… Bb4]

The main field of interest of this opening line is 3… d5, particularly the Exchange Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined – 4. cxd5 exd5. The Exchange Variation when the Knight is still on g1, was believed to be somewhat more pleasant for White, but thanks to Kramnik’s recent efforts it has again become fairly popular among the players of Black.

The most ambitious approach from White is 5. Bg5, where besides 5… Be7, which is covered in our Line 172, Black has an alternative of about the same strength – 5… c6. After the common 6. e3, Black has a few options like 6… h6 7. Bh4 Be7 or 6… Qb6, but move 6… Bf5 is the most popular one. White usually goes for 7. Qf3 Bg6 8. Bxf6 Qxf6 9. Qxf6 gxf6, and this endgame is generally considered to be solid for Black, but nonetheless it’s a bit favorable for White, as can be seen in M. Carlsen – V. Kramnik, Stavanger 2016.

Some players of Black opt for a line similar to the Semi-Tarrasch: 3… d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5, where White should be able to obtain a small edge with 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 c5 7. Rb1.

[Diagram: White to Move] E. Bareev – Z. Hracek, Pardubice 1994. Bareev missed the opportunity to gain a strong attack with a typical breakthrough. What is the best way for White to continue in the diagrammed position?

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[July 05, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Slav Defense – Chebanenko Variation with 5… e6

[Line 070 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 a6 5. Qc2 e6]

By choosing 5… e6, Black intends to continue with c6-c5, trying to make use of the fact that the white Queen on c2 is slightly misplaced.

If White proceeds with 6. c5 Black gets good prospects with 6… Nbd7, preparing either b7-b6 or e6-e5.

White usually plays 6. Nf3, where Black has two plans of about the same strength: one is 6… Nbd7, followed by dxc4 and c5, and the other plan is immediate 6… c5. After 6… c5 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Be2 Nc6 players of White most frequently opt for either 9. Ne5 or 9. O-O Be6 10. Rd1.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has sacrificed a piece for attack and needs to find very precise moves to obtain a decisive advantage. How can White win the game?

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[July 04, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Harrwitz Attack – Main Line with 6… Nbd7

[Line 254 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 without 7. c5]

Besides the most common 7. c5 that is covered in our Line 255, White has other possibilities of about the same strength.

Move 7. Qc2 is one of the popular alternatives, where the easiest way for Black to obtain comfortable positions is 7… c5 8. dxc5 Nxc5.

Another frequently played move is 7. a3 which is generally a useful prophylactic move that also threatens Nb5. Again, the best response from Black is 7… c5, and after 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Nxd5 exd5 10. dxc5 Nxc5 occurs the critical position of this opening line. Black wants to put the Bishop on f6, so White typically continues with 11. Be5 Bf6 12. Be2, where Black has two paths leading to roughly equal chances: 12… Bxe5 13. Nxe5 Be6 and 12… Bf5 13. O-O Be4.

[Diagram: White to Move] V. Malakhov – A. Riazantsev, Novokuznetsk 2008. Black treatens to play Nc2 or take the Bishop on e2, so White needs to act fast to make use of his better piece development. How can he seize the initiative?

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[July 03, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
King’s Indian Defense, Gligorić-Taimanov Variation without 7… Ng4

[Line 160 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. Be3 without 7… Ng4]

Black’s most frequent choice on 7th move is 7… Ng4, which is covered in our Line 161.

The other popular option is 7… exd4 8. Nxd4 Re8 9. f3 c6, followed by d6-d5. Since moves like 10. Qd2 or 10. O-O leave Black with comfortable play, White usually opts for 10. Bf2. The game often continues 10… d5 11. exd5 cxd5 12. O-O Nc6 13. c5, when Black has two interesting possibilities: 13… Re5 and 13… Bf8.

For club level players we recommend either 7… Qe8 or 7… h6, in both cases connected with the idea Ng4, where with Bg5 White no longer gets an important tempo.

[Diagram: Black to Move] E. Inarkiev – R. Mamedov, Moscow 2015. Inarkiev’s last move was f2-f4, missing Black’s strong reply. Can you see what White failed to notice, thus giving his opponent a big advantage?

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[July 02, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Lasker-Pelikan Variation – Chelyabinsk Variation with 9. Nd5

[Line 437 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Nd5]

Line 437 covers the currently most popular line of the Lasker Variation of the Sicilian Defense: 9… Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. c4. Sacrificing the b-pawn with 11… Nd4 12. cxb5 Be6 13. Bc4, though interesting, does not give Black sufficient compensation after White’s precise play.

The best reaction from Black is the simple 11… b4 12. Nc2 a5, where White usually chooses between 13. Be2 and 13. g3. Overall evaluation is that Black should be able to equalize, without real difficulties.

Apart from the mentioned line, players of White sometimes opt for a sideline beginning with 10. Nxe7, where both 10… Qxe7 and 10… Nxe7 give Black comfortable play.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White is behind in development which gives his opponent more than sufficient compensation for a pawn. How can Black increase the pressure even more?

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[July 01, 2018] Updated Opening Article by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
October 2017 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 as well as some top-tier games that reveal significant improvements on some of the key lines, most notably including N. Vitiugov – B. Gledura, Caleta 2018.

[Diagram: Black to Move] The diagrammed position can be found in our analysis of the key game A. Giri – P. Svidler, Baku (m/1) 2015. White has the bishop pair, so Black has to do something about it as soon as possible. Any ideas?

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