[April 11, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Ragozin Variation with 5. cxd5

[Line 250 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. cxd5]

The Ragozin Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined is a mainstream opening and it’s a part of the opening repertoire of many top players. Move 5. cxd5 is the main preference of the players of White, and after 5… exd5 an interesting bishop move 6. Bf4 has been tested lately by Svidler, Eljanov and several other strong grandmasters.

Against 6. Bg5, variation 6… Nbd7 is covered in our Lines 251-252, and apart from that, Black has two other promising options: 6… h6 and 6… O-O.

After 6… O-O 7. e3 h6 8. Bh4 players of Black have recently found a promising continuation in 8… Bf5 9. Qb3 Bxc3+ 10. bxc3 Nbd7, which was seen in the key game Ding Liren – P. Leko, Danzhou 2016.

Black can postpone castling by playing 6… h6 7. Bh4, where two options deserve serious attention: 7… g5 8. Bg3 Ne4 and 7… c5 8. dxc5 Nbd7.

[Diagram: White to Move] White would be very pleased to open the h-file for his rook, but after h2-h4 Black would react with g5-g4, keeping the kingside closed. How can White outwit his opponent?

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[April 10, 2018] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Hedgehog Variation

[Line 044 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. g3 b6]

The Hedgehog Variation of the English Opening, though a bit passive, is very a flexible opening for the players of Black.

Line 044 deals mostly with various choices for Black after 5. Bg2 Bb7 6. O-O, and also covers the main 6… Be7 lines without 7. d4, which is covered in our Line 045.

In recent years 7. Re1 with the idea e2-e4 gained in popularity. For club level players we recommend 7… d5 8. cxd5 Nxd5, where Black has good chances to equalize. The alternative is 7… d6, which leads to more complex positions, but also demands accuracy from both sides, though perhaps a bit more from Black.

From several setups that are easy to adopt for the players of White, we recommend 7. b3 O-O 8. Bb2, followed by e2-e3, Qe2, Rfd1 and d2-d4.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black King is temporarily exposed, so it’s the right time for White to start the action!

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[April 09, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
French Defense, Normal Variation – Burn Variation

[Line 341 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxe4]

After 5. Nxe4 Nbd7 this line transposes to our Lines 333-334, whereas Line 341 covers the position that arises after 5…. Be7 6. Bxf6 gxf6, while the other capture (6… Bxf6) is covered in our Line 342.

White’s most frequent choice is 7. Nf3, and here 7… a6 with the idea b7-b5 allows White to get a favorable position after 8. c4 f5 9. Nc3.

Black’s best option is 7… f5, with the idea to respond to Ned2 or Ng3 with c7-c5. White’s most promising setup probably includes 8. Nc3, though 8… a6 followed by b7-b5-b4 and Bb7 should give his opponent quite decent counterplay. White could continue with 9. Qe2 b5 10. O-O-O b4 11. Na4 Qd5, and though Black has a few weaknesses, his bishop pair should provide reasonable compensation.

[Diagram: White to Move] L. Bruzón Batista – J. Nogueiras Santiago, Havana 2006. Black Queen is not actually much of a threat, and his King is poorly defended. How can White make use of his advantages and launch a decisive attack?

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[April 08, 2018] Dusted Off: Opening Survey by GM Slaviša Brenjo
Dutch Defense with 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bg5 (8… O-O!?)

Vincent Keymer’s sensational triumph ahead of an exceptionally strong field at the Grenke Open, the largest open tournament in Europe, is such an incredible feat that all of us, including the winner himself, are probably still taking it all in.

Without taking anything away from his marvelous achievement, this column is mostly about contributions to the modern opening theory, so this article is dedicated to examining Andreikin’s plan against the Dutch Defense that he employed at the said event
in Karlsruhe against Maxime Lagarde, and several months before that versus Gata Kamsky, a former World Championship Title challenger.


[Diagram: Black to Move] At first glance, it appears that Black is losing material in the diagrammed position. However, upon further inspection it turns out that Black can create a very promising counterplay. Can you see the main idea?

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[April 07, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense with 2. Nf3, incl. O’Kelly & Nimzowitsch Variations and Hyperaccelerated Dragon

[Line 421 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 without 2… d6, 2… e6, 2… Nc6]

Line 421 covers Black’s fourth move sidelines, while main systems can be found in the following lines: 2… d6 is available in our Lines 457-500, 2… e6 in Lines 440-456 and 2… Nc6 in Lines 422-439.

Hyperaccelerated Dragon (2… g6) is often employed as a way to avoid the Rossolimo Variation of the Sicilian Defense. Apart from transposing to the Marozy Bind with 3. c4 Bg7 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nc6, White can also choose among several setups:

Against 3. c3 Black can respond actively with 3… d5 4. exd5 Qxd5, and the arising position is typical of the Alapin Variation setups.

The most ambitious system for White is 3. d4, where 3… Bg7 is not advisable in view of 4. dxc5 Qa5+ 5. c3 Qxc5 6. Na3; since Black Queen is exposed, white pieces quickly become active, i. e. Be3, and Nb5 is coming. Black’s best choice is 3… cxd4 4. Qxd4 Nf6 5. e5 Nc6 6. Qa4 Nd5, and after several accurate moves he should be able to equalize.

From other sidelines that could be found in this opening line, particularly worth mentioning are O’Kelly (2… a6) and Nimzowitsch Variations (2… Nf6). Though interesting as opening surprise weapons, White can typically get an upper hand with precise play.

[Diagram: White to Move] Coordination of black pieces is evidently poor, but the Knight on c7 and the b2-pawn are under attack. How should White proceed?

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[April 06, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Ruy Lopez, Morphy Defense – Miscellaneous (incl. Modern Steinitz Defense, Caro Variation & Schliemann Defence Deferred)

[Line 383 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 without 4… Nf6]

Apart from the main variation of Ruy Lopez (4… Nf6) covered in our Lines 384-413, there are also a couple of notable alternatives for Black.

Modern Steinitz Defense (4… d6) is solid, yet somewhat passive option. The most promising reply is 5. O-O, where the main line goes 5… Bd7 6. d4 exd4 7. Nxd4 b5 8. Nxc6 Bxc6 9. Bb3, followed by c2-c4, Nc3 and Re1, with a small space advantage for White. There are also other possibilities, such as: 5. c3, 5. Bxc6 and 5. c4, but, with accurate play, Black is generally able to get good prospects there.

An interesting sideline 4… Nge7 is appropriate for club level players, since it does not include too much opening theory. White is generally slightly better after 5. c3 g6 6. d4 exd4 7. cxd4 b5 8. Bc2, though Black is not without his chances.

The idea of the Caro Variation (4… b5) is to trade the Knight for the light-squared Bishop after 5. Bb3 Na5, followed by Nxb3. White gets better piece development and, consequently – more promising positions.

Schliemann Defense Defered (4… f5) leads to a dubious position for Black after 5. d4 exd4 6. e5 Bc5 7. O-O, with more than sufficient compensation for White.

[Diagram: White to Move] Z. Hracek – R. Biolek, Czech Republic 2010. Black’s kingside is weakened, which allows White to gain a big edge with a nice tactical trick. Can you find it?

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