[September 19, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Pirc Defense, Austrian Attack

[Line 299 : 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. f4]

The Austrian Attack is the most aggressive approach against the Pirc Defense. After 4… Bg7 5. Nf3 there are two viable choices for Black: one is the immediate reaction in the center with 5… c5, and the other is 5… O-O.

After 5… c5, White can go for the less forced 6. dxc5 Qa5 7. Bd3 Qxc5 8. Qe2, or for the main 6. Bb5+, where after 6… Bd7, both 7. e5 and 7. Bxd7+ deserve serious attention.

Positions occurring after 5… O-O 6. Bd3 are substantially different, but equally demanding like the previously mentioned ones. Moves 6… Nc6 and 6… Na6 are the most promising continuations for Black, and they should provide him sufficient counterplay.

[Diagram: Black to Move] A. Shomoev – S. Mamedyarov, Jurmala (rapid) 2015. Shomoev missed his opponent’s strong reply, leading to a long-term advantage for Black. What did White fail to see?

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[September 18, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Sicilian Defense, Richter-Rauzer Variation – Main Line with 7… Be7 8. O-O-O O-O

[Line 474 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O]

The Richter-Rauzer Variation with an early short castling is a viable choice for Black, though it requires precise knowledge of the topical lines. There are two usual plans for White – one is connected with f2-f4 and e4-e5, and the other with f2-f3 and advance on the kingside.

After 9. f4 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 Qa5, White again has a couple of options of about the same strength – 11. Bc4, 11. e5 and 11. Kb1, where Black is able to equalize with accurate play.

Move 9. f3 often leads to double-edged positions with both sides attacking the opponent’s King, like in the line 9… a6 10. h4 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 b5.

Less popular, though equally fine continuation for White, is 9. Nb3, exerting the pressure on the d6-pawn.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s King is poorly defended, as most of his pieces are on the opposite side of the board. How can White make use of it to get a decisive attack?

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[September 17, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Gruenfeld Defense, Exchange Variation

[Line 139 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5]

After the forced 4… Nxd5, apart from the main 5. e4 (Lines 140-145), White has a couple of popular alternatives.

Move 5. Bd2 is frequently seen even in grandmaster practice. White plans, after 6. e4 Nxc3, to take the Knight on c3 with the Bishop. Black can oppose his opponent’s plan with 5… Nb6, attacking the d4-pawn, where White usually reacts with 6. Nf3, 6. e3, 6. Bf4 or 6. Bg5, though even a gambit move 6. e4 deserves attention. After 5… Bg7 6. e4 moves 6… Nb6 and 6… Nxc3 are of about the same strength.

From other lines covered in this opening line, 5. g3 and 5. Na4 are the most common, where in both cases, Black has a few paths to equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black is behind in development and his King is stuck in the center. What is the best way to proceed as White and get a very strong attack?

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[September 16, 2018] Trusted: Opening Survey by GM Slaviša Brenjo
Ruy Lopez: Anti-Marshall Variation with 11. Bc4 Nxe4

Parham Maghsoodloo was on an absolute tear during the World Junior Championships winning seemingly at will, but it was anything but a cakewalk as he often had to play exceptionally well to overpower his talented opposition.
His game against Sindarov, a child prodigy with unbelievable tactical skills, was a masteful display of Parham’s defensive prowess that his coach Ivan Sokolov only had praise for. While the new champion’s play is incredibly diverse for someone of his age, his opening preparation is uniformly top-notch, as everyone could witness during post-game analyses. In the featured game he was confident enough to play an extremely complicated position against a supertalented attacker, and his combination of great preparation, superb calculation and deep understanding helped him prevail in this thrilling encounter.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Maghsoodloo thought during the featured game against Sindarov that threatening Nd5 was enough to secure him a stable advantage, but he missed a powerful (and not too difficult) counterblow that would have completely turned the tables. Can you see the main idea?

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[September 15, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Neo-Gruenfeld Defense, Delayed Exchange Variation

[Line 132 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 c6 5. Bg2 d5 6. cxd5]

Exchange Variation of the Neo-Gruenfeld Defense is considered to be good for Black, but to reach equality he does need to play a few precise moves.

After 6… cxd5 White’s options are 7. Nc3, 7. O-O and 7. Ne5. In all the cases Black usually decides between castling and the immediate Ne4, with the idea to exchange a pair of Knights in the early stage of the game.

The main line goes 7. Nc3 O-O 8. Ne5, where there are several moves of about the same strength: 8… e6 followed by Nfd7, 8… Bf5 with the idea Ne4, and 8… b6 with Bb7 and Nc6, should all be fine for Black.

[Diagram: White to Move] S. Ernst – M. Darban, Rasht 2014. Black has just given a check and plans to capture on e5, with a good position. What is White’s best reaction in the diagrammed position?

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[September 14, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Boris Avrukh:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Harrwitz Attack – Main Line with 6… c5

[Line 256 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 c5]

White’s usual response in the initial position of this line is 7. dxc5 Bxc5, where 8. a3 is covered in our Line 257.

Black delays the capture dxc4 until White loses a tempo with Be2, like in the following lines: 8. Rc1 Nc6 9. Be2 dxc4 and 8. Be2 dxc4.

If White first develops his queenside with 8. Qc2 Nc6 9. Rd1  Black obtains good prospects with 9… Qa5 10. Be2 Nb4 11. Qb3 dxc4 12. Bxc4 Nbd5.

Move 8. cxd5 is quite a popular choice of the players of White. After 8… Nxd5 9. Nxd5 exd5 Black is able to equalize, e. g. 10. a3 Nc6 11. Bd3 Bb6, followed by either d5-d4 or Qf6. The alternative 8… exd5 leads to slightly better positions for White, since in this case Black’s d5-d4 is no longer as convenient, because White can meet it with strong Nc3-a4.

[Diagram: White to Move] White’s pawn majority on the kingside allows him to seize the initiative on that part of the board. What is the best plan for him in the diagrammed position?

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