[February 11, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Gruenfeld Defense, Exchange Variation (Classical Main Line incl. Sokolsky Variation)

[Line 145 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 c5 8. Ne2 Nc6 9. Be3 O-O 10. O-O with 10… Bg4, 10… Qc7]

The point of interest of our Line 145 are two highly investigated options for Black, on move ten.

After 10… Bg4, move 11. f3 is almost the exclusive response, where 11… Bd7 is an interesting sideline, and we recommend it to club level players. The main choice is 11… Na5, where, apart from 12. Bd3, White can also go for 12. Bxf7+ Rxf7 13. fxg4 Rxf1+ 14. Kxf1 or 12. Bd5. The main line goes 12. Bd3 cxd4 13. cxd4 Be6, where both the Sokolsky Variation (14. d5 Bxa1 15. Qxa1) and 14. Rc1 Bxa2 15. Qa4 lead to complications.

Positions arising after 10… Qc7 are a bit less forced. White usually replies 11. Rc1, and Black now has two moves that should be enough to obtain roughly equal chances – 11… Rd8 and 11… b6.

[Diagram: White to Move] This intriguing position comes from the analysis of the game D. Dvirnyy – T. Sanikidze, Rijeka 2010. Black has strong threats, yet it’s White’s move and, to win the game, he has to make the most out of his two pawns on the 7th rank.

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[February 10, 2019] Updated Opening Article by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
October 2017 Revisited: Ruy Lopez, Closed Defense with 6. d3 (10. Ng5!?)

This is still a reasonably fashionable line, with several theoretically relevant top-level games, such as S. Movsesian – F. Caruana, Internet (rapid) 2019. Positions that appear in this variation vary from deeply strategical to extremely tactical, so there’s definitely something for everyone’s taste. Especially interesting and theoretically important is S. Ghukasyan – N. Pogonina, Batumi 2018, which requires extreme accuracy and attention to detail by the players of Black who want to try this line.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Quite simple: Black to play and survive!

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[February 09, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Kasparov-Petrosian Variation (incl. Murey Variation)

[Line 212 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Bb7 5. Nc3 d5 6. cxd5 Nxd5 7. Qc2]

Move 7… c5 transposes to Line 208, while after 7… Be7 White has, apart from 8. e4 Nxc3 9. bxc3, another popular possibility in 8. Bd2 (Line 210).

The most frequently played option is 7… Nxc3, where 8. Qxc3 is a line more suitable for club level players.

White gets a strong pawn center in the Murey Variation (8. bxc3), where Black’s usual plan is to exert pressure along d- and c-files with c7-c5, Qc7(8), Nd7(c6) and Rd8. An illustrative continuation could be 8… Be7 9. e4 O-O 10. Bd3 c5 11. O-O Qc7 12. Qe2. Here both 12… Nd7 and 12… Nc6 lead to positions with roughly equal chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] It looks like Black has just enough counterplay on the queenside. However, White can still obtain a big edge and launch a strong attack on the poorly-protected black King. Any thoughts?

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[February 08, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Petroff Defense, incl. Cochrane Gambit, Paulsen & Millennium Attacks and Kaufmann & Lasker Variations

[Line 352 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5]

The only principal choice for Black on the third move is 3… d6, where as alternatives to the main 4. Nf3 White can also try the quiet Paulsen Variation (4. Nc4), and the sharp Cochrane Gambit (4. Nxf7), though it hardly gives him sufficient compensation for the sacrificed Knight.

After the most common 3… d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 move 5. d4 is covered in our Lines 354-357, while 5. Nc3 is examined in Line 353.

The Lasker Variation 5. Qe2 leads to an early endgame after 5… Qe7 6. d3 Nf6 7. Bg5 Qxe2+ 8. Bxe2, where Black usually equalizes without difficulties.

Kaufmann Variation (5. c4) is aimed against d6-d5. Black generally has no problems obtaining a comfortable position here, for example 5… Nc6 6. d4 d5 7. c5 Bg4, and Black is fine.

Also, in the Millennium Attack (5. Bd3) Black has good prospects, for instance 5… Nf6 6. O-O Be7 7. h3 O-O 8. c3 b6 9. Bc2 Bb7 10. d4 Nbd7, with equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] I. Nepomniachtchi – S. Sjugirov, Sochi 2016. A truly exceptional motif allows White to gain a practically decisive edge. Any ideas?

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[February 07, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, incl. Grand Prix Variation & Closed Sicilian

[Line 415 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 without 2… Nc6]

The most popular variations for Black against the Closed Sicilian are 2… Nc6 (covered in Line 416), 2… d6 (the main choice of the Najdorf aficionados), and 2… e6 (frequent choice of those hoping for the Paulsen Variation), while 2… a6 and 2… g6 are also quite popular.

In the Grand Prix Variation (2… d6 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bc4) White’s plan often includes O-O, Qe1-h4, d2-d3 and f4-f5, exerting the pressure on the kingside. A typical example of how the game continues is 5… Nc6 6. O-O e6 7. d3 Nge7 8. Qe1 O-O 9. Qh4 d5, with mutual play.

Another commonly seen possibility for White is 5. Bb5+, where both 5… Bd7 and 5… Nc6 are sufficient for getting roughly even chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] Wen Yang – V. Artemiev, Moscow 2016. White pawn on e5 can hardly be defended, but nonetheless White can obtain a decisive advantage thanks to the strong pressure along the f-file.

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[February 06, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Declined with 4… Nbd7 (incl. Saemisch Variation)

[Line 244 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Nbd7]

The main point of interest of this opening line is the Saemisch Variation, arising after 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bf4. If Black opts for active play on the queenside with 6… Bb4 7. e3 c5, White gets a preferable position after 8. Bd3 c4 9. Bc2 O-O 10. O-O. More promising plan for Black is 6… c6, preparing to disturb the active white Bishop on f4 with Nh5. Against 7. h3 Black gets even chances with 7… Nb6, followed by Bf5 and Bd6, while after 7. Qc2 Black can generally equalize without difficulties with 7… Nh5 8. Bg5 Be7 9. Bxe7 Qxe7 10. e3 Nb6.

Among the other popular options for White are 5. Bf4, 5. Bg5, 5. Qc2, and 5. e3. All of them lead to rich strategical battle, with mutual play.

[Diagram: White to Move] R. Raijmaekers – I. Cipka, corr. 2008. White’s ideal setup would most likely include doubling his Rooks along the f-file. What is the best way to do that?

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