[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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[June 30, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Vadim Zvjaginsev:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Classical Variation – Keres Defense with 7. Bg5 Bb7 8. e3

[Line 185 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 b6 7. Bg5 Bb7 8. e3]

The most common plan for Black in this line is 8… d6, with the idea Nbd7, c5 and Rc8.

For club level players we recommend 9. f3, followed by Bd3 and Ne2.

The other frequent choice of players of White is 9. Ne2. White wants, after moving the Queen, to put the Knight on c3, and than to develop his light-squared Bishop. The game usually continues with 9… Nbd7 10. Qc2 c5 11. Rd1, and here Black has a few promising options: 11… Qe7, 11… Qc7 and 11… Rc8.

[Diagram: White to Move] Rook on d4 is under attack, but moving it means losing the Bishop on c4. However, White can make use of the fact that black Queen is far away from the kingside. What is the best way to proceed as White?

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[June 29, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Catalan Defense, Closed Variation; Bogo-Indian/Catalan Hybrid

[Line 230 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 without 4… dxc4, 4… Be7]

Line 230 deals with introductory lines of the Catalan Defense, whereas the variation with 4… dxc4 can be found in Lines 239-242 and 4… Be7 in Lines 235-238.

Another Black’s frequent choice is 4… Bb4+, where besides the most common reply 5. Bd2, White has at his disposal an interesting gambit line starting with 5. Nc3.

Variation arising after 4… Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 is also very popular, and is covered in our Lines 231-234.

Sideline 4… Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bd6 is also a solid alternative, which we recommend to club level players.

In the main focus of this opening line is 4… Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bxd2+, where White has two responses: 6. Qxd2 and 6. Nbxd2. After trading the dark-squared Bishops, White has somewhat better development, but Black has good chances to maintain the balance.

[Diagram: White to Move] Though Black’s position is without obvious weaknesses, his King is poorly protected, which allows White to obtain a strong attack. How should he continue?

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