[January 30, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined – Exchange Variation; Catalan Opening

[Line 265 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 without 5. Bg5, 5. e3]

Two main moves from the initial position of our Line 265 are 5. e3 (Lines 274-285) and 5. Bg5 (Lines 266-273), and we deal here with other various possibilities.

Exchange Variation (5. cxd5) is probably the most suitable for beginners. After the usual 5… exd5 6. Bg5 White’s plan often includes Qc2, e2-e3, Bd3 and O-O.

Move 5. g3 leads to the gambit variation of the Catalan Opening and is more suitable for advanced players. The principal reaction is 5… dxc4 and after 6. Bg2 one option is 6… Nbd7 7. O-O with either 7… b5 or 7… Be7, and the other option is 6… b5 7. Ne5 Nd5, in any case with roughly equal positions.

From other choices of White defending the c4-pawn with either 5. Qd3 or 5. Qb3 typically leads to quiet positions.

[Diagram: White to Move] B. Gelfand – A. Shirov, Paris (rapid) 1992. White pieces are exerting activity on the kingside, while Black has created some counterplay on the opposite side of the board. However, White is faster and can get a big advantage with active play. How should he proceed?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[January 29, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Reti Opening, King’s Indian Attack with 2… c5

[Line 023 : 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 without 2… c6, 2… Nf6]

Move 2… Nf6 is covered in our Lines 026-028, while 2… c6 is the topic of our Line 024. There are also many other possible setups for Black, and they are dealt with here in Line 023.

The idea of 2… Bg4 is Nd7, e7-e6, Bd6 and then either Ne7 or Ngf6, all the while delaying c7-c6. An illustrative line could be 3. Bg2 Nd7 4. O-O e6 5. d3 Bd6 6. Nbd2 Ne7, with equality.

Early kingside fianchetto 2… g6 is another popular option. Black usually proceeds with Bg7, e7-e5 and Ne7. If at some moment White plays c2-c4, Black can decide between taking the pawn with dxc4, advancing d5-d4, or defending the pawn with either c7-c6 or Nf6.

After the active 2… c5 occurs a reversed King’s Indian Defense (3. Bg2 Nc6 4. O-O e5) or reversed Gruenfeld Defense (3. Bg2 Nc6 4. d4), in both cases with equal chances.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Taking the poisoned pawn in the diagrammed position turns out to be a big mistake for White. How does Black gain an almost decisive advantage?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[January 28, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, English Hybrid

[Line 199 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Nc3 c5 5. g3 cxd4]

The position arising after 6. Nxd4 often occurs from the English Opening: 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 e6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Bb4 6. g3. The main continuation here is 6… O-O, while from the other options 6… Ne4 seems to be the only one that allows Black to equalize.

After 6… O-O 7. Bg2 d5 there are two interesting sidelines: 8. O-O dxc4 9. Qa4 and 8. Qb3 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3. Players of White usually opt for 8. cxd5 where on 8… Nxd5 move 9. Bd2 leads to a balanced and not too complicated position. Move 9. Qb3 is frequently seen on the highest level, where beside 9…. Qa5 10. Bd2 Nc6 Black is also able to get a decent position with 9… Nc6, 9… Qb6 and 9… Na6.

[Diagram: White to Move] V. Zvjaginsev – Z. Almasi, Altensteig 1994. Black pieces lack coordination, while white Bishop on d4 dominates the black squares. Can you see how White can obtain a decisive advantage in just a couple of moves?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[January 27, 2019] Updated Opening Article by Boris Avrukh:
June 2017 Revisited: Sicilian Defense, Taimanov-Bastrikov Variation with 7… Bd6

Along with the Italian Game, this is one of our most frequently updated opening surveys. Though, admittedly, not as high profile as the Giuoco Piano, the fact that this line is played at pretty much all levels makes it a legitimate target for updating every now and then.

While our best mutual play still follows A. Motylev – M. Bosiočić, Moscow 2017, there are several lines that we find equally relevant for modern opening theory. There is no doubt that this is a very topical and fashionable line, and we believe there is still plenty of room for improvement for both sides.

[Diagram: Black to Move] What is the correct evaluation of the diagrammed position? Find the best line for both sides.

Click here to see the updated article in our viewer.


2016-02-23 - Update Line 032[January 26, 2019] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
English Opening, Asymmetrical & Four Knights Variations

[Line 032 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 without 3… e6]

Line 032 covers various choices for Black on 3rd move. The main variaton arises after 3… d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5, with several popular choices for White – 5. d4, 5. e4, 5. e3 as well as some rare sidelines. It can lead to very different types of positions ranging from sharp (e. g. after 5. e4 Nb4 6. Bc4 Nd3+ 7. Ke2, as played in some recent top games, like Aronian – Topalov, London 2015) to deeply strategical positions (e. g. after 5. d4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 g6 7. Bf4, as seen in Aronian – Caruana, Wijk aan Zee 2014). The fact that Aronian outplayed these two super GMs in very convincing fashion shows that this line can be very tricky!

[Diagram: White to Move] Korobov – Timofeev, Sochi 2015. White missed a great opportunity to gain a significant advantage. Can you find it?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[January 25, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Closed Defense with 6. d3 b5

[Line 392 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5]

Move 6… b5 is one of the common ways to respond to White’s threat of Bxc6 and Nxe5 in the Ruy Lopez. Black keeps some extra options open like transferring the Bishop from e7 to c5, and forces the Bishop to move to b3: 7. Bb3. There are three possible continuations for Black here: 7… d6, 7… O-O and 7… Bb7 (transposing to Line 386).

By playing 7… d6, Black intends to trade his Knight for the powerful Bishop on b3 with Na5xb3. The main response from White is 8. a4, where both 8… Bd7 and 8… b4 are well-examined and lead to balanced positions.

8. a3 is an alternative way to oppose Black’s plan that has recently gained in popularity. White often continues with Nc3, Be3 and, if allowed, with d3-d4, too. Black has a couple of ways to reach equality, most notably 8… Na5 9. Ba2 c5 and 8… O-O 9. Nc3 Bg4 10. Be3 Nd4.

In case of 7… O-O 8. a4 b4 9. Nbd2 Black is able to obtain good prospects with the active 9… Bc5, which is frequently followed by d7-d6, Rb8 and Be6.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black King, after capturing a sacrificed piece, bravely stepped deep into White’s camp. How should White continue to punish his opponent’s hazardous play?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…