[November 16, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Open Games (Early Deviations); Vienna Game; King’s Gambit; Center Game

[Line 347 : 1. e4 e5 without 2. Nf3, 2. Bc4]

Early Deviations in Open Games include quite a lot of different openings, and since 2. Nf3 is extensively examined in our Lines 349-413, and 2. Bc4 in Line 348, other sensible moves can be found in Line 347.

King’s Gambit (2. f4) is a romantic opening, and though it is not quite refuted, its reputation is very shaky from a modern chess theory point of view. Black has quite a few ways to obtain at least equal chances, but complications that very often occur in this opening are the reason that King’s Gambit is occasionally seen even in grandmaster games.

Center Game (2. d4) is another opening without many followers these days, since White is the one that has to be careful.

Vienna Game (2. Nc3), on the other hand, can still be seen, even on the highest level. White is typically not particularly ambitious in the early opening phase, but Black still does need to exercise some caution to overcome small opening problems. After 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. g3, the main choices for Black include 3… Bc5, 3… d5 and 3… c6.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s counterplay is mainly focused on the c4-pawn, and if White can solve it, he will seize a very strong initiative. Any ideas?

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[November 15, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Aleksandar Kovačević:
Sicilian Defense, Classical Scheveningen – Maroczy Variation with 7. O-O Be7

[Line 486 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e6 7. O-O Be7 8. f4 O-O 9. Kh1]

Line 486 covers the Classical Scheveningen, frequently employed with black pieces by Kasparov in his matches against Karpov in Moscow, 1985, and against Anand in New York, 1995. It remains a very popular opening at all levels, since it offers plenty of opportunities for both sides.

The main line of our choice in Line 486 is the Maroczy Variation, which occurs after 9… Qc7 10. a4 Nc6.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Volokitin – S. Rublevsky, Budva 2004. All it takes for White is to strike while it’s hot, and the Black’s position will simply collapse.

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[November 14, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Borki Predojević:
Slav Defense, Schallopp Defense without 7. Nxg6

[Line 096 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nh4 Bg6 without 7. Nxg6]

Line 096 covers variations in the Schallopp Defense beginning with 5. Nh4 Bg6, where White opts to delay capturing the Bishop on g6, while 6. Nxg6 is the topic of our Line 097.

The reason behind the delay is to keep the h-file closed, at least until the center becomes more open. Black’s solid position in this line is generally hard to break, which is why this defense is often played among top-level players.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has the chance to make use of the fact that Black King still hasn’t castled. How would you continue?

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2016-03-10 - Update Line 405[November 13, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Closed Defense – Flohr-Zaitsev Variation (Miscellaneous)

[Line 405 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Bb7]

Line 405 covers an interesting variation 10. d4 Nd7 11. Nbd2 exd4 12. cxd4 Bf6, which recently became popular after the Giri – Svidler game, played during the last World Cup. Though Svidler managed to win that important game, White’s accurate treatment of the line should have given him a slightly preferable position.

Another important variation covered in the Line 405 is a sideline in the Zaitsev Variation, which occurs after 10. d4 Re8 11. Nbd2 Bf8 12. a3. White will later often proceed with either Bc2 or Ba2, followed by b4, which will lead to mostly maneuvering play.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White plans to push his e- and f- pawns, but his King is a bit exposed. It’s Black’s turn to move, and an attractive response completely turns the tables in his favor!

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[November 12, 2017] Dusted Off: Opening Survey by GM Slaviša Brenjo
Sicilian Defense, Rossolimo Variation with 16. Nxc5!

Rauf Mamedov’s impressive performance during the European Team Championships has catapulted himself into the elite company of 2700+ players. His win against Dubov was instrumental in the triumph of the Azeri national team, as they managed to leapfrog the Russian juggernaut in the decisive
showdown of the two superteams.

While it’s now obvious that 19… a6! pretty much solves all Black’s problems in the main line, such a cold-blooded response was too much even for an in-form player of Dubov’s caliber in a high-pressure
over-the-board game. It took a seasoned correspondence player (and enough time to work everything out) to demonstrate a clear-cut path to equality for the players of Black, so the K. Norchenko – R. Tleptsok line should be considered the best mutual play in this variation.

[Diagram: White to Move] In our key game R. Mamedov – D. Dubov, Hersonissos 2017, White played a move previously tested in two correspondence games that creates ample practical chances. Would the same move be your choice in the diagrammed position?

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[November 11, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Ponziani Opening; Three Knights Opening; Four Knights Opening

[Line 358 :1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 without 3. Bc4, 3. Bb5, 3. d4]

Besides the Three/Four Knights Opening and the Ponziani Opening, Line 358 covers various rare lines for White. Though none of these lines pose real problems for Black, they became popular even at the highest level, as a way to avoid the “Berlin Wall”.

Among the above mentioned lines, our recommendations for beginners and club level players are either 3. g3 or 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Be2. Both lines are quiet and modest, but very easy to treat for the players of White.

Ponziani Opening (3. c3) often leads to original dynamic positions and demands more knowledge from both sides. In our opinion, Black has two promising choices: 3… d5 and 3… Nf6.

Three/Four Knights Opening (3. Nc3) is more frequently seen in grandmaster practice, especially the following position occurring after 3… Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. Nxd4 Bb4 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 d5 8. exd5 cxd5. White will generally be trying to exploit Black’s slightly inferior pawn structure, while Black can count on his good piece play to compensate for it.

[Diagram: White to Move] F. Tunega – A. Kyhos, corr. 2006. Black only needs to move his Bishop to c7 and play d7-d5, which would even give him a preferable position. However, White’s next move spoils his opponent’s plans, and creates him serious problems.

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