[July 26, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Slav Defense, Chebanenko Variation with 5. e3 b5 6. b3

[Line 103 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 a6 5. e3 b5 6. b3]

Chebanenko Variation of the Slav Defense has lost a lot of popularity in recent years, mainly because of the line covered here.

The most frequently played continuation is  6… Bg4, with the idea Nbd7, e7-e6 and Bd6. White typically counters it with 7. Be2 Nbd7 8. h3. If Black trades his bishop for a knight with 8… Bxf3 9. Bxf3 e6 10. O-O, White gets a stable advantage due to his bishop pair. On the other hand, after 8… Bf5 9. g4! Bg6 10. Ne5 White has the initiative.

Black’s alternatives on 6th move are 6… Bf5 and 6… g6, but in either case, White can secure an opening edge.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position is from the key game R. Wojtaszek – V. Malakhov, Jurmala (rapid) 2013. Black needs only one tempo to fully equalize, but it’s White’s turn and it makes all the difference…

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[July 25, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
King’s Indian Defense, Orthodox Variation with 6… e5 7. O-O Nbd7

[Line 163 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nbd7]

The old line of the Orthodox Variation of KID (7… Nbd7) is not frequently seen in modern grandmaster games, but its flexibility makes it a good weapon for players who want to avoid heavily explored lines.

There are three dominant replies – 8. Re1, 8. Qc2 and 8. Be3, where the last one probably promises the best chances if White wants to ambitiously fight for opening advantage.

Against 8. Be3 we recommend either 8… Qe7 or 8… c6 to club level players, whereas the advanced ones will probably feel more comfortable with 8… Re8. White generally has better chances, but Black also has his trumps in practical play.

[Diagram: Black to Move] In double-edged positions attacking the opponent’s King is typically more important than the material count. Having that in mind, how can Black get a dangerous attack in the diagrammed position?

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[July 24, 2016] Updated Opening Article by GM Boris Avrukh:
August 2014 Revisited: Queen’s Gambit Declined, Sämisch Variation

Well, this line is obviously so important for the modern opening theory that it keeps coming back at the highest level. The updated version of this article is top-heavy, and it brings two Nakamura’s recent games against Carlsen and Karjakin. These two guys’ World Championship Match is coming soon, so one would expect them to keep some opening secrets for the big event. However, Karjakin’s improvement from Bilbao is really very important, and his fortress seems like the best choice for Black in this line.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Komodo 9.3 – Stockfish 091215, Internet 2015. The diagrammed position shows a somewhat similar scenario to the above mentioned Karjakin’s improvement (Black played a6 to prevent b5), though in this case it’s too late to create a fortress on the queenside. White has already initiated a concrete sequence of captures, so Black has to calculate with great precision the consequences of capturing with his rook on b4, as 23. Bxe6 is a looming threat. What do you think – is 22… Rxb4 a good move for Black?

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[July 22, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense with 2. Nf3, incl. O’Kelly & Nimzowitsch Variations and Hyperaccelerated Dragon

[Line 421 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 without 2… d6, 2… e6, 2… Nc6]

Line 421 covers Black’s fourth move sidelines, while main systems can be found in the following lines: 2… d6 is available in our Lines 457-500, 2… e6 in Lines 440-456 and 2… Nc6 in Lines 422-439.

Hyperaccelerated Dragon (2… g6) is often employed as a way to avoid the Rossolimo Variation of the Sicilian Defense. Apart from transposing to the Marozy Bind with 3. c4 Bg7 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nc6, White can also choose among several setups:

Against 3. c3 Black can respond actively with 3… d5 4. exd5 Qxd5, and the arising position is typical of the Alapin Variation setups.

The most ambitious system for White is 3. d4, where 3… Bg7 is not advisable in view of 4. dxc5 Qa5+ 5. c3 Qxc5 6. Na3; since Black Queen is exposed, white pieces quickly become active, i. e. Be3, and Nb5 is coming. Black’s best choice is 3… cxd4 4. Qxd4 Nf6 5. e5 Nc6 6. Qa4 Nd5, and after several accurate moves he should be able to equalize.

From other sidelines that could be found in this opening line, particularly worth mentioning are O’Kelly (2… a6) and Nimzowitsch Variations (2… Nf6). Though interesting as opening surprise weapons, White can typically get an upper hand with precise play.

[Diagram: White to Move] Coordination of black pieces is evidently poor, but the Knight on c7 and the b2-pawn are under attack. How should White proceed?

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[July 21, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
King’s Indian Defense, Ukrainian Defense & Donner Variation

[Line 162 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O without 7… Nc6, 7… Na6, 7… Nbd7]

Line 162 deals with various sidelines of the Orthodox Variation of the King’s Indian Defense. The most frequent moves are covered in separate lines, i. e. 7… Nc6 in Lines 166-169, 7… Na6 in Lines 164-165 and 7… Nbd7 in Line 163.

Ukrainian Defense (7… a5) is rarely seen nowadays, since White has a few paths to reach a small but lasting edge.

Donner Variation (7… c6) is an unambitious, yet flexible, system. Black typically settles with a slightly passive position, but manages to avoids force lines that commonly occur in other variations.

Among the variations covered here, 7… exd4 8. Nxd4 Re8 9. f3 Nc6 has the best reputation for Black. Though White’s chances are generally slightly preferable, well-prepared players of Black should be able to reach positions that are practically equal.

[Diagram: Black to Move] It seems like Black can hardly avoid losing a pawn, but there is an attractive resource that leaves him with sufficient compensation. What should he do?

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[July 20, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Catalan Defense, Closed Variation – Main Line with 8. Bf4

[Line 232 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O c6 8. Bf4]

In this line Black has two reasonable alternatives to main move 8… Nbd7 – 8… b6 and 8… dxc4.

With 8… b6, typically followed by Ba6, Black wants to exert pressure on the c4-pawn. The game could continue 8… b6 9. Nc3 Ba6 10. cxd5 cxd5 11. Rc1 Bb7 12. Ne5 Nbd7, when Black has good chances to equalize. After 8… dxc4 9. Ne5 Nd5 10. Nxc4 c5 he should also be able to get sufficient counterplay.

8… Nbd7 keeps the tension, leaving both sides with several decent options. While 9. Qc2 is covered in our Lines 233 and 234, Line 232 covers two remaining notable lines: the solid 9. Qb3, and the more ambitious 9. Nc3. Either way, Black should not encounter major problems in these variations.

[Diagram: White to Move] R. Ponomariov – V. Topalov, Sofia 2005. Black’s last move was Nb8-c6, which allows his opponent a small tactical blow. How can White secure a long-term advantage?

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