[October 08, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Sidelines & Exchange Variation

[Line 171 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 without 3… Bb4]

The main field of interest of this opening line is 3… d5, particularly the Exchange Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined – 4. cxd5 exd5. The Exchange Variation when the Knight is still on g1, was believed to be somewhat more pleasant for White, but thanks to Kramnik’s recent efforts it has again become fairly popular among the players of Black.

The most ambitious approach from White is 5. Bg5, where besides 5… Be7, which is covered in our Line 172, Black has an alternative of about the same strength – 5… c6. After the common 6. e3, Black has a few options like 6… h6 7. Bh4 Be7 or 6… Qb6, but move 6… Bf5 is the most popular one. White usually goes for 7. Qf3 Bg6 8. Bxf6 Qxf6 9. Qxf6 gxf6, and this endgame is generally considered to be solid for Black, but nonetheless it’s a bit favorable for White, as can be seen in M. Carlsen – V. Kramnik, Stavanger 2016.

Some players of Black opt for a line similar to the Semi-Tarrasch: 3… d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5, where White should be able to obtain a small edge with 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 c5 7. Rb1.

[Diagram: White to Move] E. Bareev – Z. Hracek, Pardubice 1994. Bareev missed the opportunity to gain a strong attack with a typical breakthrough. What is the best way for White to continue in the diagrammed position?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[October 07, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Slav Defense – Chebanenko Variation with 5… e6

[Line 070 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 a6 5. Qc2 e6]

By choosing 5… e6, Black intends to continue with c6-c5, trying to make use of the fact that the white Queen on c2 is slightly misplaced.

If White proceeds with 6. c5 Black gets good prospects with 6… Nbd7, preparing either b7-b6 or e6-e5.

White usually plays 6. Nf3, where Black has two plans of about the same strength: one is 6… Nbd7, followed by dxc4 and c5, and the other plan is immediate 6… c5. After 6… c5 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Be2 Nc6 players of White most frequently opt for either 9. Ne5 or 9. O-O Be6 10. Rd1.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has sacrificed a piece for attack and needs to find very precise moves to obtain a decisive advantage. How can White win the game?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[October 06, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Czech Pirc Defense, Anti-Philidor & Lion’s Jaw

[Line 294 : 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6]

Lion’s Jaw (3. f3) is one of the decent ways to avoid the Philidor Defense as White. The main reaction from Black is 3… e5 followed by 4. d5 Be7. The ensuing positions resemble the Saemisch Variation of the King’s Indian Defense, with the important difference that the dark-squared Bishop is placed here on e7, and not on g7. White has, in view of his spatial advantage, a generally more pleasant position, but Black is not without counterplay.

After 3. Nc3 two most common choices for the players of Black are Philidor Defense (3… e5) and Pirc Defense (3… g6), covered in or Lines 295-300.

Czech Pirc Defense (3. Nc3 c6) allows White to gain a strong pawn center with 4. f4, where Black’s main plan is 4… Qa5, followed by e7-e5. White has two paths to obtain a small, but pleasant advantage: 5. Bd3 and 5. e5.

If Black wants to enter the Philidor Defense via another move order, i. e. 3. Nc3 Nbd7 with the idea e7-e5, White has at his disposal a promising alternative to 4. Nf3 in 4. f4.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black is ready to play Nc4, and White has to find how to stop his opponent’s plan. What is the best solution for him?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[October 05, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Catalan Defense, Closed Variation; Bogo-Indian/Catalan Hybrid

[Line 230 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 without 4… dxc4, 4… Be7]

Line 230 deals with introductory lines of the Catalan Defense, whereas the variation with 4… dxc4 can be found in Lines 239-242 and 4… Be7 in Lines 235-238.

Another Black’s frequent choice is 4… Bb4+, where besides the most common reply 5. Bd2, White has at his disposal an interesting gambit line starting with 5. Nc3.

Variation arising after 4… Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 is also very popular, and is covered in our Lines 231-234.

Sideline 4… Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bd6 is also a solid alternative, which we recommend to club level players.

In the main focus of this opening line is 4… Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bxd2+, where White has two responses: 6. Qxd2 and 6. Nbxd2. After trading the dark-squared Bishops, White has somewhat better development, but Black has good chances to maintain the balance.

[Diagram: White to Move] Though Black’s position is without obvious weaknesses, his King is poorly protected, which allows White to obtain a strong attack. How should he continue?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[October 04, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Modern Variation – Moscow Variation (Canal Attack)

[Line 461 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7]

Move 3… Bd7 is the simplest way for Black to respond to the Moscow Variation of the Sicilian Defense. Black wants to exchange a pair of Bishops, and thereby ease the development of the remaining pieces.

White has an interesting option in 4. c4, postponing the capture on d7 and offering his opponent to trade the Bishops himself on b5. Since after 4… Bxb5 5. cxb5 Nf6 6. Nc3 White typically gets more pleasant positions in view of his space advantage on the queenside, Black should avoid capturing on b5. Instead, he can continue with e. g. 4… Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 O-O, which should be about equal.

White usually opts for 4. Bxd7+, and now 4… Nxd7 is a good alternative to the main 4… Qxd7.

After 4… Qxd7, the main move is 5. c4 (Line 462), and 5. d4 is our recommendation for beginners. Players of White often choose 5. O-O, where after 5… Nf6 White has two moves of approximately the same strength: 6. Qe2 and 6. Re1; in either case Black has a few paths to equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black Queen and Knight are misplaced, and it’s a signal that White should make his attack more concrete. How can he get a winning position in just a couple of moves?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[October 03, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Open Slav Defense, Krause Attack (Sharp Line – Wiesbaden Variation)

[Line 109 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Ne5 without 6… Nbd7]

Main move 6… Nbd7 is covered in our Lines 110-111, and this opening line deals with the Wiesbaden Variation (6… e6), as well as other sidelines, like 6… Na6, 6… Qc7, 6… g6 and 6… Nd5.

The Wiesbaden Variation, though a bit passive, is generally a solid choice from Black, and it was employed in a couple of games by Anand, in his World Championship match against Topalov in 2010. The only principled continuation for White is 7. f3, where Black should respond with 7… c5 8. e4 Bg6. Now, move 9. d5 doesn’t seem to pose any problems to Black, while after 9. Be3 cxd4 10. Qxd4 Qxd4 11. Bxd4 Nbd7 12. Nxd7 Nxd7 13. Bxc4 arises the critical position of this opening line. White’s position is, in view of Black’s passive Bishop on g6, a bit more pleasant, but after a few precise moves from Black, it’s hard for White to obtain a tangible edge.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black wants to take the c6 pawn with the Rook, and if White exchanges the pawns with cxb7, the c4-pawn will be protected, and Black would be doing fine. Still, White has other means to obtain the advantage. Can you see how?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…