[November 25, 2018] Updated Opening Article by Boris Avrukh:
February 2015 Revisited: Neo-Grünfeld Defense with Ne2-c3, The Sämisch Hybrid

Avoiding the Gruenfeld with 3. f3 has become a very fashionable sharp option appealing to many, though players of White typically have to take into account several move orders that lead to Sämisch-type structures. However, since White doesn’t have to play Nc3 to support his pawn center, that particular fact gave birth to an interesting positional idea: KN gets deployed to c3 instead, while QN typically goes to a3, as a means of locking down the queenside.

Deprived of queenside action, Black has to try something elsewhere, which mostly results in Benoni-type positions that arise after e6, followed by the capture on d5. However, there is another promising idea that Black has at his disposal, and that’s exactly what is examined in this survey.

[Diagram: Black to Move] The diagrammed position follows our analysis where White played inaccurately, which left his king’s protection in ruins. What is the most straightforward execution of Black’s winning attack?

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[November 24, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense (Miscellaneous)

[Line 414 : 1. e4 c5]

Apart from the Open Sicilian (2. Nf3) covered in Lines 421-500, the Alapin Variation (2. c3, Lines 417-419) and the Closed Sicilian (2. Nc3, Lines 415-416), White has also a choice among many, though admittedly not as popular,  sidelines.

Modern 2. Ne2 is mostly aimed against the Najdorf Variation, as against 2… d6 White usually opts for 3. g3, followed by Bg2, O-O, c2-c3 and d2-d4. Black also has other possibilities, such as 2… Nf6, and after 3. Nbc3 both 3… d6 and 3… d5 lead to roughly equal positions.

Move 2. d3 is a safe but unambitious option, and is commonly followed by g2-g3, Bg2, f2-f4, Nf3 and O-O.

A mixture of the Sicilian Defense and the English Opening arises after 2. c4, with a strategic battle in a rather closed position.

[Diagram: Black to Move] S. Movsesian – G. Kamsky, Moscow (blitz) 2008. White has made serious weaknesses in a very early stage of the game, so Black is now able to obtain a decisive advantage in the diagrammed position. Can you find the winning move sequence for Black?

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[November 23, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense with 4. O-O (incl. Improved Steinitz Defense)

[Line 376 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O]

Line 376 covers problably the most drawish opening variation in modern chess – when after 4… Nxe4 White avoids the main lines of Berlin Defense with 5. d4 (Lines 377-380), and instead keeps symmetrical pawn structure with 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5. Though Black has a few paths to full equality, we offer the easiest way to reach it!

There is an alternative for White on 5th move in 5. Qe2, and yet again Black can smoothly obtain a comfortable position.

Besides the above mentioned variations, this also line deals with the dynamic 4… Bc5, as well as with 4… Be7 and the Improved Steinitz Defense (4… d6), but none of these give Black satisfying play.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position occurred in a few games that Leko played with Black back in 1999, i. e. in the days when computers where not nearly as powerful as today. Nowadays it’s quite easy to determine whether the Knight sacrifice on g5 is defendable for Black or not. What’s your verdict?

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[November 22, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
Modern Benoni, Fianchetto Variation (Hastings Defense)

[Line 119 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e6 4. Nc3 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nf3 g6 7. g3]

For the players of White the Fianchetto Variation remains a reliable positional approach to handling the Modern Benoni Defense. After the common follow-up 7… Bg7 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O Black has a couple of setups at his disposal.

The most frequent reaction is 9… Re8. White also has a few possible plans, where 10. Nd2 is an alternative to 10. Bf4. Against the latter, Black gets a satisfying position both with 10… a6 11. a4 Nh5 12. Bg5 Qc7 and 10… Ne4 11. Nxe4 Rxe4 12. Nd2 Rxf4 13. gxf4 Bxb2 14. Rb1 Bg7.

The Hastings Defense 9… Nbd7 is equally fine for Black. After 10. Bf4 Qe7, often followed by Ng4 or Nh5, Black has a decent counterplay.

Black can also include 9… a6 10. a4 before proceeding with 10… Nbd7, again with balanced positions.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White pieces are entangled, which gives Black tactical motives leading to his longterm advantage. How should Black continue?

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[November 21, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Anti-Moscow Gambit

[Line 270 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. Bg5 h6 without 6. Bxf6]

In this line White has a choice on 6th move between two very different types of position: the quiet Moscow Variation 6. Bxf6 (Lines 272-273), and the very sharp Anti-Moscow Gambit 6. Bh4. In the latter case, the game usually continues with 6. Bh4 dxc4 7. e4, where 7… b5 8. e5 transposes to the main line of the Botvinnik Variation, though nowadays players of Black usually prefer 7… g5 8. Bg3 b5. Though White has a couple of possibilities here, move 9. Ne5 is an alternative of equivalent strength to the main 9. Be2.

As the response to 9. Be2, Black frequently opts for 9… Bb7, while 9… b4 10. Na4 Nxe4 and 9… Bg7 are also viable. In fact, position arising after 6. Bh4 g5 7. Bg3 dxc4 8. e4 b5 9. Be2 Bb7 is a modern chess opening tabiya, where 10. O-O and 10. h4 are covered in our Line 271. Other well-investigated options are 10. Ne5, 10. e5 and 10. Qc2, and they are the point of interest of this opening line.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s vulnerable King and poor Queen placement allow White to launch a decisive attack, starting with a nice tactical blow!

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[November 20, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Kasparov-Petrosian Variation with 5… d5 6. Bg5

[Line 209 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Bb7 5. Nc3 d5 6. Bg5]

After the usual 6… Be7, three choices of White are seen quite frequently.

The idea of 7. Qa4+ is to disrupt Black piece development. Move 7… Qd7 should give Black enough for equalization, for example 8. Qc2 dxc4 9. e3 Bxf3 10. gxf3 b5, though more common reaction is 7… c6, where position arising after 8. Bxf6 Bxf6 9. cxd5 exd5 10. g3 O-O 11. Bg2 Re8 is balanced.

The alternative 7. e3 leads to slow strategical battles, where game often proceeds with 7… O-O 8. Rc1 Nbd7 9. cxd5 exd5 10. Be2 c5.

The third possibility is 7. Bxf6 Bxf6 8. cxd5 exd5, where Black is able to get comfortable position against any of the following options of White: 9. Qb3, 9. Qa4+ and 9. g3.

[Diagram: Black to Move] A. Shimanov – T. Markowski, Warsaw 2014. White’s last move 13. b2-b4? gave Black an unexpected opportunity to gain considerable advantage. What should he do in the diagrammed position?

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