[December 28, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
English Opening, Symmetrical Variation (Geller)

[Line 034 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 e6 4. d4 without 4… d5]

The Geller Variation in the English Opening, which occurs after 4… cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nc6 6. g3 Qb6, has been frequently employed among the top level players in recent years.

Besides the classical 7. Nb3, there is also a modern option beginning with 7. Ndb5, where those who want to avoid critical theoretical lines can also choose a decent sideline (7… d5), with good chances for equality. For the well-prepared and ambitious we suggest 7… Ne5, when White gets to choose between two sharp choices: 8. Bf4 Nfg4 9. Qa4, like in the following recent games: V. Topalov – F. Caruana, Moscow 2016, or H. Nakamura – S. Karjakin, Zurich 2015, where Karjakin quickly lost because he forgot a forced line that ends in perpetual check.

The other popular choice against 7… Ne5 is 8. Bg2, which typically leads to equally demanding theoretical lines.

[Diagram: White to Move] This preview brings a powerful idea introduced by Kramnik in his game against Anand from the Monte Carlo (rapid) in 1994. How can White gain a lasting initiative in the diagrammed position?

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[December 27, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Morphy Defense – Anderssen Variation (incl. Duras Variation)

[Line 385 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. d3]

The Anderssen Variation, starting with 5. d3, is quite a popular way to avoid many heavily explored variations of the Ruy Lopez. White mostly settles for equal positions, but doesn’t have to worry about more complex lines, such as the Open Variation, Marshall Attack or Closed Defense.

Black has more than one way to get satisfactory positions. He can make use of the fact that he still hasn’t develop black squared Bishop, and play 5… d6 followed by a kingside fianchetto, like in our main line: 5… d6 6. c3 g6 7. O-O Bg7 8. Nbd2 O-O.

The Duras Variation (5… d6 6. c4), later often followed by Bxc6, is a sideline that typically leads to a quiet game.

The other promising line for Black is 5… b5 6. Bb3 Bc5, where if White doesn’t want to transpose to some other lines, he can also try 7. Nc3 d6 8. Nd5, though after 8… h6 Black should be fine.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White is an exchange up and Bishop on d4 is hanging. How should Black fight for the compensation?

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[December 26, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
King’s Indian Defense, Makagonov Variation

[Line 152 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 with 5. h3, 5. Bd3]

Line 152 deals with two substantially different systems: the Makagonov Variation (5. h3) and the 5. Bd3 setup, typically followed by 6. Nge2.

In the Makagonov Variation, after 5. h3 O-O White develops his dark-squared Bishop either to g5 or e3, while 6. Nf3 transposes to our Line 157. Against both previously mentioned Bishop moves, Black has a choice between the e7-e5 or the c7-c5 central push that both lead to satisfactory positions for him.

On the other hand, after 5. Bd3 O-O 6. Nge2 we recommend either 6… Nc6 7. O-O e5 8. d5 Nd4, or a Benoni-like setup 6… c5 7. d5 e6, again with good play for the players of Black.

[Diagram: Black to Move] M. Șuba – W. Schmidt, Polanica-Zdrój 1976. In the original game grandmaster Schmidt missed his chance to get a tangible advantage. Can you find it?

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[December 25, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Scheveningen Variation – Keres Attack

[Line 468 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4]

The Keres Attack is the predominant reason why the Scheveningen Variation is nowadays usually entered from either Najdorf or Paulsen Variation.

6… e5 is an interesting try from Black, but 7. Bb5+ Bd7 8. Bxd7 Qxd7 9. Nf5 h5 10. f3! leads to a long-term advantage for White.

After 6… a6 7. g5 Nfd7 8. h4 b5 9. a3 White has typical initiative on the kingside, and similar positions occur after 8… Be7 9. g5 Nfd7 10. h4.

In our opinion, position arising after 6… Nc6 7. g5 Nd7 8. Be3 can already be evaluated as dangerous for Black.

The best try from Black is probably 6… h6 7. h4 Nc6 8. Rg1 d5, but even there, after 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxd5 exd5 11. Be3 we think that this position should be considered favorable for White.

[Diagram: White to Move] D. Navara – A. Grischuk, Tromso 2014. Navara launched a dangerous attack that Grischuk was unable to contain. How should White continue?

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[December 24, 2017] Updated Opening Article by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
August 2015 Revisited: Symmetrical English, Mecking Variation

The original key game P. Harikrishna – I. Cheparinov, Kocaeli 2015 remains the model game in this variation (that is – in our humble opinion), which was recently confirmed in B. Gledura – R. Markus, Budapest 2017 (from the ongoing Dr Geza Hetenyi Memorial), where Black managed to equalize comfortably following in Cheparinov’s footsteps.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black knights are overloaded, so he has to act quickly to preserve the balance. Any ideas?

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[December 23, 2017] Updated Opening Line from GM Dragan Paunović:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Ragozin Variation; Vienna & Westphalian Variations

[Line 249 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Bg5]

The Ragozin Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined often leads to very dynamic positions. It is very popular among the top grandmasters, and often employed by the likes of Carlsen, Aronian and Giri, just to name a few.

If Black chooses the Vienna Variation 5… dxc4, White’s only way to fight for advantage is to go for 6. e4, which is covered in Line 246, albeit from a different move order.

The Westphalian Variation 5… Nbd7 6. e3 c5 is another promising line for Black.

The main variation in Line 249 goes: 5… h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. e3 O-O 8. Rc1 dxc4 9. Bxc4 c5. Black has to know several critical continuations, which would help him equalize rather comfortably.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black King’s is completely without protection. How should White finish his decisive attack?

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