[April 05, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
King’s Indian Defense, Sidelines & Smyslov Variation

[Line 150 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 without 4. e4]

Line 150 deals with White’s various sidelines in the Classical King’s Indian Defense.

The Smyslov Variation (4. Nf3 O-O 5. Bg5) is a solid choice for White, which is easy to adopt and hence quite suitable for beginners. After 5… d6 6. e3, Black often chooses one of the following two plans: 6… c5, followed by chasing the dark-squared Bishop with h7-h6, g6-g5 and Nh5, and the other option is 6… Nbd7, with e7-e5 and Re8.

The other popular White’s setup that is covered in this Line is 4. Nf3 O-O 5. e3, and again Black has two plans, quite similar to the above mentioned ones: 5… c5 6. d5 d6 7. Be2 e6, or 5… d6 6. Be2 Nbd7 7. O-O e5; both plans lead to approximately equal positions.

[Diagram: White to Move] E. Tomashevsky – D. Kokarev, Krasnoyarsk 2007. Tomashevsky missed a great opportunity to deal a strong blow – can you find it?

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[April 04, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, McCutcheon & Classical Variations, incl. Chatard-Alekhine Attack

[Line 340 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 without 4… dxe4]

After 4. Bg5, Black can basically choose among three popular lines: the Burn Variation (4… dxe4), covered in our Lines 341-342, Classical (4… Be7) and McCutcheon Variation (4… Bb4).

After 4… Be7 5. e5 Nfd7 Black needs to be well-prepared for a very complicated Chatard-Alekhine Attack 6. h4, as well as for calmer 6. Bxe7 Qxe7 7. f4. White has easier play, though Black has sufficient resources to get satisfactory positions.

In the McCutcheon Variation double-edged positions occur quite often, especially in the modern line after 4… Bb4 5. e5 h6 6. Be3 Ne4 7. Qg4. White often sacrifices a pawn, but in return either black King has to stay in the center if he defends the g7-pawn with 7… Kf8, or his kingside becomes weak after 7… g6 or 7… g5. In our opinion, the best choice is probably 7… g6, though after 8. a3 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Nxc3 10. Bd3 White has at least sufficient compensation.

[Diagram: White to Move] This position has appeared even in a few grandmasters games: last Black’s move was careless h6-h5, and White’s accurate reaction, based on a sequence of precise moves, can guarantee him a longterm advantage.

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[April 03, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Slav Defense, Chebanenko Variation with 5. a4

[Line 099 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 a6 5. a4]

White’s idea with 5. a4 is to prevent his opponent from playing dxc4 and supporting that pawn with b7-b5. However, playing a4 weakens the b4-square, and Black often makes use of it by deploying his Bishop or Knight on that place. Black’s typical reaction is 5… e6, and now White has a wide range of choices.

If White opts for a kingside fianchetto with 6. g3, he loses just enough time to allow his opponent’s counteraction in the center with 6… dxc4 7. Bg2 c5, which gives Black a quite satisfactory position.

Against more solid 6. e3, Black has a strong response in 6… c5 7. Bd3 Nc6, and the weakness on b4 gives him sufficient compensation for White’s slight developmental advantage.

In our opinion White’s best try is 6. Bg5, where Black has several possibilities of more or less equal strength: 6… a5, 6… h6 and 6… Nbd7.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black sacrificed an exchange in the early stage of the game, and now needs to play a few accurate moves to secure a draw. How should he continue?

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[April 02, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Ragozin Variation with 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 Nbd7

[Line 251 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 Nbd7 without 7. e3]

Since 7. e3 is covered in our Line 252, Line 251 deals with sidelines, as well as some other popular 7th move choices for White in the Ragozin Variation.

For instance, for club level players we recommend two interesting plans:

Out first recommendation is 7. Rc1 with e2-e3, Bd3 and O-O, since 7… c5 is not a particularly good answer, as it would be against 7. e3; i. e. after 7. Rc1 c5 8. dxc5 White gets the upper hand. However, Black can react by opting for 7. Rc1 c6 8. e3 Qa5, with good counterplay.

The other suggestion for White is the not too common 7. Qa4. In our opinion, Black should respond with 7… c5 8. dxc5 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3, with sufficient compensation for the sacrificed pawn.

The main variation of this opening line is 7. Qc2 h6 8. Bh4 g5 9. Bg3 Ne4. Black creates weaknesses on the kingside, but gets bishop pair as a compensation. The game could continue e.g. with 10. Nd2 Nxg3 11. hxg3 Nb6 12. a3 Bf8, like in a recent top-level game: M. Vachier Lagrave – A. Giri, Shamkir 2015.

[Diagram: White to Move] P. Eljanov – Y. Kryvoruchko, Rogaška Slatina 2011. Black’s last move was careless Rf8-e8, overlooking Eljanov’s strong response. How did White capitalize on his opponent’s mistake?

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[April 01, 2018] Updated Opening Article by GM Aleksandar Kovačević:
November 2017 Revisited: Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation: Bastrikov Variation

Our original main line of this variation still follows A. Morozevich – I. Bukavshin, Moscow (rapid) 2015, a marvelous tactical masterpiece by the former World No. 2. New theoretically important developments have appeared since our last update (including a game between the former and the current challenger to the throne: S. Karjakin – F. Caruana, London 2017), so it seemed logical to revisit this double-edged line.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position is from A. Gajwa – A. David, Bhopal 2017. Black’s pin seems to have temporarily neutralized White’s activity. Can you reignite White’s attack?

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[March 31, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Reti Opening – King’s Indian Attack with 2… d5

[Line 026 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5]

Black has tried many possible moves against 3. Bg2, and among them 3… c6 is the most common choice. Other options, such as 3… g6, 3… e6 and 3… c5, are also reasonably popular, often transposing to positions covered in other opening lines. Apart from the variation 3… c6 4. O-O, covered in our Lines 027-028, move 4. c4 is also frequently played on the highest level, where we recommend one of the following replies: 4… dxc4, 4… g6, 4… Bg4 and 4… Bf5.

If Black accepts the pawn sacrifice with 4… dxc4, after 5. O-O Nbd7 6. Qc2 Nb6, White gets sufficient compensation both with 7. Na3 and 7. a4.

In case of 4… g6, Black can transpose to Line 131 with 5. d4 Bg7, or he can choose from an assortment of the independent variations, such as 5. b3 and 5. Qa4.

Common follow-ups against the other two above mentioned variations are 4… Bg4 5. Ne5 Bf5 6. cxd5 cxd5 7. Nc3 Nc6 and 4… Bf5 5. cxd5 cxd5 6. Qb3 Nc6 7. Qxb7 Bd7, in both cases with roughly equal chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] P. Aguirre – A. Wosch, corr. 2008White has sacrificed two pawns and has a strong initiative as a compensation. How should he proceed to gain a considerable edge?

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