[June 28, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Winawer Variation

[Line 343 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4]

Line 343 is an introductory line of the Winawer Variation of the French Defense and, as can be expected, White has many, substantially different, possibilities at his disposal.

Exchange variation (4. exd5) typically leads to quiet positions. After 4… exd5 5. Bd3 a common continuation could be 5… Nc6 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. bxc3 Nge7 with White having a pair of Bishops and his opponent relying on a better pawn structure.

Old move 4. Nge2 doesn’t seem to pose real problems to Black. After 4… dxe4 5. a3 Be7 6. Nxe4 Nf6 occurs a position similar to the Rubinshtein Variation (3… dxe4 4. Nxe4), but the Knight on e2 is here a bit passive.

By choosing 4. a3 White is heading for sharp lines 4… Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 dxe4 6. Qg4 Nf6 7. Qg7 Rg8 8. Qh6, where Black has a few ways to get sufficient counterplay.

By far the main move is 4. e5 and the main option 4… c5 is covered in our Lines 344-346. Other popular variations for Black are 4… b6 and 4… Qd7, while 4… Ne7 usually transposes to positions from 4… c5, for example 4… Ne7 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 is the initial position of Line 345.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black has a Bishop+Queen battery aiming towards the White King, and the g2-pawn is under attack. How can White protect his King and activate the pieces to gain a clear advantage?

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[June 27, 2018] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Symmetrical (Rubinstein) & Asymmetrical Variations

[Line 030 : 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 without 3.Nc3, 3.d4]

Move 3. Nc3 is covered in Line 032, 3. d4 in Line 116, and after 3. g3 move 3… b6 is in Line 031, and 3… g6 in Line 036.

The main focus of this opening line is the Rubinstein System (i.e. the Reversed Maroczy Bind): 3. g3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Bg2 Nc6. Here 6. d4 allows Black to obtain comfortable play with 6… cxd4 7. Nxd4 Nbd4, so players of White tend to prefer 6. Nc3 Nc7 7. O-O e5.

White has two common plans: one is preparing the b2-b4 advance with a3 and Rb1, like in the line 8. a3 Rb8 9. Rb1 f6 10. d3 Be6 11. Be3 Qd7 12. Nd2 and the other one is transfering the Knight from f3 to c4, followed by f2-f4, e.g. 8. d3 Be7 9. Nd2 Bd7 10. Nc4 f6 11. f4, in both cases with roughly even chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] V. Kramnik – S. Karjakin, Sochi 2016. Kramnik’s preparation is, as usual, at a very high level – White can get a big advantage with aggressive play!

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[June 26, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Boris Avrukh:
Gruenfeld Defense, Brinckmann Attack

[Line 138 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bf4]

The Brinckman Attack (4. Bf4) against the Grunfeld Defense is, in our opinion, a variation that’s suitable mostly for club level players.

After 4… Bg7 move 5. Nf3 transposes to our Line 146, whereas this opening line deals with move 5. e3, which is another major option for White. The usual reply from Black is 5… c5 6. dxc5 Qa5, and after 7. Qa4+ Qxa4 8. Nxa4 Bd7 9. Nc3 Ne4 he obtains sufficient compensation.

More ambitious possibility for White is 7. Rc1 dxc4 8. Bxc4 O-O where White plays either 9. Nf3 or 9. Nge2. After a few precise moves, Black is able to obtain equal chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] White gains an almost decisive advantage with a nice trick. Can you find it?

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[June 25, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation – English Attack (incl. Delayed Keres Attack & Perenyi Gambit)

[Line 492 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 without 7. Be2, 7. f3]

Variation with 7. f3 is covered in Lines 493-494, and 7. Be2 leads to the Classical Scheveningen (Line 484-487).

Sharp Delayed Keres Attack (7. g4) is the main point of interest of this opening line, where Black has two viable replies: 7… e5 and 7… h6.

8. Qf3 has been recently tested in a few grandmasters games against the latter Black’s option. He needs to play carefully to gain reasonable counterplay.

After 7… e5 8. Nf5 g6 White is practically forced to sacrifice material by leaving the attacked Knight on f5. Both the Perenyi Gambit (9. g5 gxf5 10. exf5) and 9. Bg2 lead to extensively examined and forced lines, with approximately even chances.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White is an exchange up but Black can make use of his bishop pair to save the game. What is the best continuation for him?

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[June 24, 2018] Updated Opening Article by GM Boris Avrukh:
May 2016 Revisited: Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation – Verbeterde List

In the original article our featured games were D. Frolyanov – L. Dominguez Perez, Sochi 2015 and M. Cornette – P. Idani, Reykjavik 2015. We have now updated the survey with several theoretically important over-the-board, engine and correspondence games, and it seems that the verdict remains the same: Black usually gets rich piece play after the pawn sacrifice, but he can hardly reach complete equality if White plays all the accurate moves.

[Diagram: Black to Move] The diagrammed position belongs to the line that represents our improvement on the abovementioned key game D. Frolyanov – L. Dominguez Perez, Sochi 2015. At first glance, the dangerous pin puts Black in a precarious position, but there is a way out of trouble for him. Can you find it?

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[June 23, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Modern Defense, Miscellaneous (incl. Pseudo-Austrian Attack)

[Line 292 : 1. e4 d6]

After 2. d4, apart from the Pirc Defense (2… Nf6), covered in our Lines 297-300, some players of Black choose Modern Defense (2… g6), delaying development of the Knight from g8. After 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 White has various setups at his disposal, and the most popular 4. Be3 is covered in our Line 293.

Pseudo-Austrican Attack (4. f4) is an aggressive approach from White. In the spirit of the variation is 4… a6 5. Nf3 b5 6. Bd3 Nd7, where both 7. e5 and 7. a4 should lead to small advantage for White.

White can also opt for a more positional continuation 4. Nf3 with a simple plan of development. A typical follow-up could be 4… a6 5. Be2 b5 6. O-O Bb7 7. Re1 Nd7 8. a4 b4 9. Na2, with a preferable position for White.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s position seems solid, but White has a way to make use of the fact that Black’s king has not castled yet.

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