[December 09, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Pawn Game, London System

[Line 055 : 1. d4 d5 without 2. Nf3, 2. c4]

London System (2. Bf4) gained a lot of popularity, particularly because of Carlsen’s and Kramnik’s success with White pieces. There are plenty of  setups for Black, but none of them guarantees an easy path to equality. Probably, the most principal setup is Nf6, c7-c5 and Nc6. After 2… Nf6 3. e3 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nd2, three common choices are 5… e6 6. Ngf3 Bd6, 5… cxd4 6. exd4 Bf5 7. Qb3 Qc8 and 5… Bf5 6. Qb3 Qd7, where in all cases Black is generally able to get even chances with accurate play. For beginners, we recommend 2… e6 3. e3 Bd6, with the following simple plan: Nf6, O-O, b7-b6, Bb7 and Nbd7.

Pseudo-Trompowsky (2. Bg5) is rarely seen nowadays in master practice, as Black gets comfortable position after 2… h6 3. Bh4 c6 4. e3 Qb6. Against both 5. b3 or 5. Qc1 move e7-e5 is a strong response, since White cannot capture on e5 because of the Queen check on b4, and the Bishop on h4 is hanging.

[Diagram: White to Move] G. Kamsky – S. Shankland, Sturbridge 2014. A trick that players entering the London System should be aware of: White to play and get a lasting advantage!

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[December 08, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation with 5. O-O (incl. Alapin Gambit & Gligorić Variation)

[Line 382 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. O-O with 5… Bg4, 5… f6]

There are two major lines covered in Line 382:

The first one is an interesting Alapin Gambit – 5… Bg4 6. h3 h5, which requires good theoretical knowledge from both sides, and usually leads to approximately equal positions.

The second option is the classical 5… f6 line, also known as the Gligorić Variation. White usually responds with 6. d4 exd4 7. Nxd4 c5, and here continues either with 8. Nb3 or 8. Ne2. However, after a few precise moves Black’s position should be good. Black has another popular option in 6… Bg4, where 7. c3 often leads to complications, while 7. dxe5 mostly leads to quiet endgames.

[Diagram: White to Move] Knight on a7 is trapped, but White has an unexpected resource to gain strong initiative!

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[December 07, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Borki Predojević:
Slav Defense, Schallopp Defense without 6… Bg6

[Line 095 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nh4 without 6… Bg6]

Line 095 covers 6. Nh4, which is the most ambitious variation for players of White in the Schallopp Defense. Besides the main 6… Bg6 (Lines 096 and 097), there is a rare and not so good 6… Bg4, and an interesting 6… Be4, with the idea to provoke f3 and thus weaken White’s kingside. As the result, after 7. f3 Bg6, White often opts for queenside castling, which typically leads to dynamic positions, but Black’s rock-solid position without obvious weaknesses gives him good chances to equalize.

[Diagram: White to Move] How should White use the vulnerable position of his opponent’s king?

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[December 06, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Aleksandar Kovačević:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Quiet Line with 5… Bb4+

[Line 225 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 Bb4+]

Bishop check is the main choice for Black in the Quiet Line of the Queen’s Indian Defense. After the forced 6. Bd2, neither 6… Bd2+ nor 6… c5 promise full equality to the players of Black.

Apart from the above mentioned lines, Line 225 also covers 6… Be7 7. Nc3, since 7. Bg2 belongs to Lines 226-228. With 7. Nc3 White first wants to gain control of the central squares, followed by queenside development. The main line is 7… O-O 8. Rc1 d5 9. cxd5 exd5 10. Bg2 Bb7, with mostly strategic battle ahead.

[Diagram: White to Move] V. Topalov – R. Ponomariov, Sofia 2005. White already has a very strong attack, which Topalov confidently converts to a win!

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[December 05, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Vadim Zvjaginsev:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Classical Variation – Noa Variation (Romanishin Variation & Beliavsky Gambit)

[Line 177 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. cxd5 Qxd5]

Line 177 deals with the Romanishin Variation that starts with 5… Qxd5, which is often followed by Qf5. The main line here is 6. Nf3 Qf5, where after 7. Qd1 e5 (in the so-called Beliavsky Gambit), Black typically gets a very good game.

White usually opts for 7. Qb3, and after 7… Nc6 8. Bd2 O-O 9. h3!? with the idea g4 (introduced in the 6th game of the Anand – Kramnik match, Bonn 2008) has become quite popular among the world class players in recent years.

[Diagram: White to Move] How should White continue to get out of the complications with considerable advantage?

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[December 04, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
English Opening, The Stein Attack

[Line 039 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Qa4+]

The Stein Attack starts with an early queen check, where Black has two main choices: 5… Nc6 and 5… Bd7.

The first of them often leads to simplifications after 6. Ne5 Qd6 7. Nxc6 Qxc6 8. Qxc6+ bxc6, where Black should achieve comfortable positions.

The second of them usually continues with 6. Qb3 Nc6 7. d4 Bg7 8. e4 Bg4 ,which typically leads to complications, like in the main line with 9. Bb5+ c6 10. Ng5.

[Diagram: White to Move] Bishop sacrifice on g5 looks very tempting, but it’s necessary to play accurately to get a serious advantage.

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