[October 13, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Tarrasch Variation – Open System with 4… exd5

[Line 329 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 exd5]

Move 5. Bb5+ leads to some simplifications after 5… Bd7 6. Qe2+ Be7, and Black should not have any difficulties to equalize here. The main option is 5. Ngf3, where 5… Nc6 is the topic of our Line 330, while the alternatives are 5… Nf6 (the main variation of this opening line), 5… a6 (our recommendation for club level players) and 5… c4 (in our opinion, this variation is promising for White).

After 5… Nf6 6. Bb5+ Bd7 move 7. Qe2+ is a playable option, but 7. Bxd7+ Nbxd7 8. O-O Be7 9. dxc5 Nxc5 is a more ambitious one. The critical position occurs after 10. Nb3 Nce4 11. Nfd4 Qd7 12. f3 Nd6 13. Nc5, where against both 13… Qc8 and 13… Qc7 White has means to obtain a slight edge.

[Diagram: White to Move] The only real drawback of the Black’s position is that his King is still in the center. So, White needs to act quickly to seize the initiative. What would you play as White?

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[October 12, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Closed Defense – Anti-Marshall Variation with 8. a4 Bb7

[Line 396 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. a4 Bb7]

After 9. d3, which is the only principal choice for White, move 9… Re8 is an appropriate alternative to the most common 9… d6. Players of White have tried several moves against d6, and the following three (10. Nc310. c3 and 10. Nbd2) are the most popular.

In case of 10. Nc3 Black gets even chances with 10… Na5 11. Ba2 b4 12. Ne2 c5, while after 10. c3 the same plan 10… Na5 11. Ba2 c5 also leads to a position that is fine for Black.

There is more than one path to equality for Black after 10. Nbd2. For instance, after 10… Na5 11. Ba2 c5 and 10… Nd7 11. c3 Nc5 Black typically gets comfortable positions.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has just played a provocative move (14. Nh4), to which Black responded with the topical 14… Nxe4. What is the best way for White to continue and attack the poorly protected black King?

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[October 11, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Trajko Nedev:
Petroff Defense, Classical Attack – Jaenisch Variation

[Line 356 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8. c4]

The old move 8… Nf6 is rarely seen nowadays since it leads to positions with better prospects for White. Another option 8… Nb4 is employed more often, where 9. cxd5 and 9. Re1 are the alternatives to the main 9. Be2. After 9. Be2 O-O 10. Nc3, the ensuing position represents an important branching in the Petroff Defense.

The most promising 10… Bf5 is examined separately in Line 357, while 10… Be6 represents another highly explored continuation. Now, after 11. Be3, Black is able to obtain roughly equal chances by playing 11… Bf5 with the idea of capturing with Nxc3, followed by Nc2. The critical variation occurs after 11. Ne5 f6 12. Nf3, where White typically gets a slight initiative.

[Diagram: White to Move] How should White proceed from the diagrammed position to gain a decisive advantage?

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2016-02-16 - Update Line 497[October 10, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Aleksandar Kovačević:
Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation – English Attack with 6… e5 7. Nb3

[Line 497 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3]

This line covers variations beginning with 7… Be7 and 7… Nbd7, as well as most White’s reactions after 7… Be6 (they do not include 8. f3, which can be found in our Lines 498-500). Another covered variation is the fashionable 8. h3 (with the idea 9. Qf3), played in Navara – Wojtaszek: this contemporary classic saw White King’s early walk to h8! Such bravery was eventually rewarded with a well-deserved win, and although Wojtaszek could have equalized, the game can still be regarded as a true modern evergreen.

The English Attack is undoubtedly one of the most popular lines in modern chess theory. It has what players of all strengths tend to appreciate: lots of tactical motives and plenty of chances to outplay a weaker opponent. These lines have thoroughly been explored, but they still contain a plethora of positions where one can rely on intuition, rather than deep computer analysis.

[Diagram: White to Move] S. Tiviakov – B. Gelfand, Elista 1998. Here is a position where Black’s early b5 can be met with a topical reaction, leading to White’s considerable advantage. How should he proceed?

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2016-02-12 - Update Line 246[October 09, 2017] Updated Opening Line from GM Dragan Paunović:
Semi-Slav, Vienna Variation with 5. e4

[Line 246 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e4]

This update is a small tribute to our late colleague GM Dragan Paunović. In memory of our dear friend, our Editorial Board will continue updating his lines and articles.

Positions occurring after 5… c5 6. d5 are covered in Line 056, while the more popular 5… Bb4 is the topic of this opening line.

Players of White that prefer complications often go for a gambit line 6. Bxc4 Nxe4 7. O-O, where after 7… Nxc3 8. bxc3 both 8… Be7 and 7… Bd6 lead to dynamically balanced positions. A less obligatory continuation is 6. Bg5, where 6… h6 7. Bxf6 Qxf6 8. Bxc4 c5 is a variation occasionally employed by some of the World’s top players. The other option for Black is 6… c5, where, apart from 7. Bxc4 that is covered separately in Line 247, White has the sharp 7. e5 with roughly equal chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] White pieces are aiming for the poorly protected black King. If you look carefully, you will find a way to carry out a decisive attack…

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[October 08, 2017] Updated Opening Article by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
Scotch Game, Classical Variation with 7. Bc4 Ne5 8. Bb3 Qg6

Garry Kimovich played the Scotch Game against all his opponents at The Ultimate Blitz Challenge 2016 in Saint Louis, and his success gives us an opportunity to re-examine the theoretical value of this opening that has mostly gone out of fashion in recent years. This article particularly focuses on Kasparov’s final game against Nakamura, the tournament winner, as it seems to prove that this opening still contains some venom and cannot be easily dismissed.

This update brings improvements on several theoretically important games, most notably on K. Piorun – E. Inarkiev, Gjakova 2016, but a few more are also deserving of your attention, so we recommend that you consider them carefully.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black knight is under attack, but White’s pieces are awkwardly placed. How can Black disrupt his opponent’s plans and secure a tangible advantage?

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