[January 09, 2017] 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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[January 8, 2017] Trusted: Opening Survey by GM Slaviša Brenjo
Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense with 6… d5!? (9. Nbd2)

Playing an early d5 in the Open Games has become something of a trend at the highest level: that central response against the Italian Game is now a dominant choice of the players of Black, and it’s also gaining traction in the Berlin Defense, where it has to be followed by the recapture on d5 with the queen instead of the knight.

In addition to two high-profile games (A. Grischuk – P. Eljanov, Novi Sad 2016 and F. Caruana – W. So, London 2016) our examination of this approach will also include a number of engine games played in the past 2-3 years, which will surely broaden our understanding of this soon-to-be-fashionable line.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black’s lack of piece coordination and his awkwardly placed Knight on h3 require immediate attention, or White will play Nc5 with devastating consequences. Any ideas?

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[January 06, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Scheveningen Variation without 6. g4

[Line 467 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 without 6. g4]

Apart from the very promising Keres Attack (6. g4), covered in Line 468, White has a couple of reasonably interesting possibilities as well.

After 6. Be3, the best option for Black is transposing to the English Attack of the Najdorf Defense with 6… a6. In case of the alternative 6… Nc6, White is able to get better chances with 7. f3 Be7 8. Qd2.

The idea of 6. f4 is Qf3, Be3 and O-O-O, though Black is doing fine after any of the following moves: 6… a6, 6… Be7 and 6… Nc6.

For those preferring a more positional approach, we recommend either 6. Be2 with transposition to the Classical Scheveningen, or 6. g3, which leads to the Fianchetto Variation of either Najdorf or Classical Sicilian Defense.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black pieces have a terrible coordination, and the final blow from White is to be expected!

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[January 05, 2017] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Four Knights Variation – Kingside Fianchetto with 4… d5

[Line 015 : 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 d5]

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.

After the usual 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 we recommend the sideline with 6… Nxc3 to the beginners. By far the most common continuation is 6… Nb6 7. O-O Be7, where White has a couple of plans.

The idea of 8. a3 (Line 016) or 8. Rb1 is an early b2-b4 advance. Against the latter option, Black is able to equalize with 8… O-O, but this task is easier to succeed with 8… a5.

Move 8. d3 is often followed by Be3 and Rc1, where again Black is able to get quite comfortable positions.

White’s queenside fianchetto (8. b3 with Bb2) is another possibility for White, and we recommend it to club level players.

[Diagram: White to Move] White Knight on e4 is under attack, and Black would be very happy if his opponent plays Ne4-c3, trading the bad Knight from a2. So, how should White continue from the diagrammed position?

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[January 04, 2017] 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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[January 02, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense – Main Line with 9… Bd7

[Line 379 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 Bd7]

The idea of 9… Bd7 is generaly connected with the plan involving Kc8, b6-b7 and Kb7, with or without h7-h6. White can try to prevent it with 10. Rd1, where besides the calm 10… Ke8 Black can stick to his original plan with 10… Kc8 11. Ng5 Be8 – in both cases with balanced positions.

White has tried many other possibilities, and the two most common are 10. h3 and 10. b3. A typical follow-up could be 10. h3 h6 11. b3 Kc8 12. Bb2 b6 13. Rad1 Ne7 with c6-c5 and, depending on White’s intentions, Black transfers his light-squared Bishop to c6, e6 or f5.

[Diagram: White to Move] G. Kasparov – V. Kramnik, Astana 2001. One year before this game, in the World Champoionship Match, Kasparov wasn’t able get a single promising position in the Berlin Defense, but this time he won a nice game. How can White a make big advantage in the diagrammed position?

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