[October 07, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Tarrasch Variation – Open System (Chistyakov Defense)

[Line 328 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 without 4… exd5]

Move 4… exd5 is covered in our Lines 329-330, while the alternative option 4… Qxd5 (Chistyakov Defense) is the topic of this opening line. In response to 4… Qxd5, move 5. dxc5, usually followed by Ngf3, Bc4 and O-O, is our recommendation for club level players.

The main line goes 4… Qxd5 5. Ngf3 cxd4 6. Bc4 where Black has three interesting options – 6… Qd6, 6… Qd8 and 6… Qd7. After the most frequent choice 6… Qd6, White sometimes opts for 7. Qe2 with the idea to continue with Nb3, Bg5 and O-O-O. More solid is 7. O-O Nf6 8. Nb3 Nc6 9. Nbxd4 Nxd4, where in the endgame occurring after 10. Qxd4 Qxd4 11. Nxd4 Black generally has no difficulties equalizing. More ambitious is 10. Nxd4, where after 10… a6 11. Re1 Qc7 12. Qe2 move 12… h6 (preparing Bd6, while preventing White from playing Bg5) gives Black good prospects.

[Diagram: White to Move] M. Adams – L.-D. Nisipeanu, Sofia 2007. Both white Bishops are under attack, so White needs to make a few concrete moves and ultimately claim a substantial edge. Any thoughts?

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[October 06, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Slavisa Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Closed Defense – Flohr-Zaitsev Variation (Main Line with 12. a4)

[Line 407 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Bb7 10. d4 Re8 11. Nbd2 Bf8 12. a4]

Line 407 deals with one of the main lines in the Flohr-Zaitsev Variation of the Ruy Lopez. Black has three notable alternatives to the main 12… h6, namely: 12… exd4, 12… Qd7 and 12… Na5. As a response to 12… h6, White has the rare 13. d5, though 13. Bc2 is seen much more often; as a response to this plan, 13… Qd7 deserves serious attention.

The main line goes 13. Bc2 exd4 14. cxd4 Nb4 15. Bb1 c5 16. d5 Nd7 17. Ra3, where Black has a choice among 17… c4, 17… g6 and 17… f5, and in any of these cases he should be able to obtain sufficient counterplay.

[Diagram: White to Move] White pieces are exerting strong pressure on the kingside. How should White continue to launch a decisive attack?

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[October 05, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Trajko Nedev:
Petroff Defense, Classical Attack (incl. Berger, Chigorin & Mason-Showalter Variations)

[Line 355 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nc6]

From the initial position of this opening line, know as the Mason-Showalter Variation, move 7. Nc3 is a sideline and our recommendation for club level players, while 7. O-O is by far the main choice of the players of White. Variation 7. O-O Bg4 8. c4 is considered to be more promising for White, so 7. O-O Be7 is much more common. 8. c4 is covered in our Lines 356-357, while its three interesting alternatives – 8. Nc3, 8. Re1 and 8. Nbd2, are covered here.

In case of 8. Nc3 Nxc3 9. bxc3 Bg4 Black reaches roughly equal position with a few accuracies.

The best response to the Chigorin Variation (8. Re1) is 8… Bg4, where after 9. c4 Black gets good prospects with 9… Nf6, while in Berger Variation (9. c3 f5) the ensuing position is double-edged.

A rare line 8. Nbd2 has recently become popular on a very high level and is our recommendation for beginners, since it is rather easy to handle with White pieces.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White Queen and Bishop on c6 have gone astray, and Black has a chance to finish the game in style. Can you find the way for Black to deliver the mate in a couple of moves?

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[October 04, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Aleksandar Kovačević:
Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation – English Attack (Miscellaneous)

[Line 491 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 without 6… e6, 6… e5]

Move 6… e6 is covered in our Lines 492-494, while 6… e5 can be found in Lines 495-500. From the other possibilities, move 6… Nc6 is also an interesting option, while 6… Ng4 is the main topic of this opening line.

After 6… Ng4 7. Bg5 move 7… Nc6 is an alternative inferior to the main 7… h6, where the game usually proceeds with 8. Bh4 g5 9. Bg3 Bg7. Now 10. Be2 is a move of equivalent strength as the most frequently played 10. h3. In response to h3 Black can play 10… Nf6, but 10… Ne5 is the principal choice. Against both of these moves players of White have tried several options, but Black seems capable of reaching sufficient counterplay in any of those cases.

[Diagram: White to Move] V. Ivanchuk – A. Shirov, Wijk aan Zee 2001. Black has neglected piece development just to capture the d-pawn. How should White continue to gain a decisive edge?

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2016-02-27 - Update Line 042[October 03, 2017] Updated Opening Line from GM Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Nimzo-English (The Zvjaginsev-Krasenkow Attack) & Queen’s Indian Formation

[Line 042 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3]

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.

This line deals with a variation that occurs when White, by delaying the otherwise topical move d2-d4, wants to avoid both the Nimzo-Indian and the Queen’s Indian Defenses. There are four principal choices for Black: playing the Nimzo-English Variation after 3… Bb4, choosing the Queen’s Indian formation with 3… b6, offering transposition to the Queen’s Gambit with 3… d5, or to the Symmetrical English with 3… c5. Generally speaking, Black’s pick mostly depends on his preferred choice against White’s central setup with d4 and c4.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Position from the World Championship match Kasparov – Anand, New York (m/4) 1995.  White is a pawn up and has a bishop pair, so Black urgently needs something to counterbalance it. Anand managed to draw the game, but here he missed a strong resource to achieve a long term initiative. What was the move that Black should have played?

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2016-02-23 - Update Line 032[October 02, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
English Opening, Asymmetrical & Four Knights Variations

[Line 032 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 without 3… e6]

Line 032 covers various choices for Black on 3rd move. The main variaton arises after 3… d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5, with several popular choices for White – 5. d4, 5. e4, 5. e3 as well as some rare sidelines. It can lead to very different types of positions ranging from sharp (e. g. after 5. e4 Nb4 6. Bc4 Nd3+ 7. Ke2, as played in some recent top games, like Aronian – Topalov, London 2015) to deeply strategical positions (e. g. after 5. d4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 g6 7. Bf4, as seen in Aronian – Caruana, Wijk aan Zee 2014). The fact that Aronian outplayed these two super GMs in very convincing fashion shows that this line can be very tricky!

[Diagram: White to Move] Korobov – Timofeev, Sochi 2015. White missed a great opportunity to gain a significant advantage. Can you find it?

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