[July 02, 2017] Updated Opening Article by Boris Avrukh:
April 2014 Revisited: Taimanov-Bastrikov Variation with 6. Be3 a6 7. Qd2 Nf6 8. f4 Bb4 9. Bd3

More then a few grandmaster and also engine games were played in this variation since A. Volokitin – A. Giri, Eppingen 2014 game that initiated this opening article. The evaluation remains the same, that is, Black is able to get good practical chances in the endgame occurring after 9… Na5 10. a3 Bxc3 11. Qxc3 Qxc3+ 12. bxc3 d5. From the recent developments, move 13. exd5 deserves serious attention, since Black needs to react accurately to reach the equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] White is pressing on the kingside, while Black is fighting for counterplay in the center. It is White’s move which gives him just enough time to seize the initiative. How would you proceed?

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[July 01, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Nimzowitsch Variation (Nimzowitsch Attack)

[Line 221 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. Qa4]

By opting for the Nimzowitsch Attack (9. Qa4) White defends the c-pawn while preparing to bring one of the Rooks to d1. Black usually carries out the c7-c5 advance, since White can hardly react by playing d4-d5 with his Queen on a4. The main line goes 5… Bb7 6. Bg2 c5, and if White continues with 7. O-O, the position gets simplified after 7… cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bxg2 9. Kxg2, when Black generally has no problems reaching the equality. Move 7. dxc5 is a more ambitious choice, and now both 7… bxc5 and 7… Bxc5 have solid reputation.

In case of 7… bxc5 Black’s plan commonly includes Be7, O-O, Qb6, Rd8 and d7-d6, while White tries pressing along the d-file with Nc3, Rd1, Bf4, Rd2 and Rad1.

When Black captures the pawn with his Bishop (7… Bxc5), his Knight from b8 often becomes the successor on the outpost on c5. This line is a bit easier to handle with white pieces, though Black typically gets good prospects with accurate play.

[Diagram: White to Move] White just needs to strike a final blow and finish the game in a couple of moves. Any thoughts?

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[June 29, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Petroff Defense, Three Knights Variation & Modern Attack

[Line 350 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 without 3. Nxe5]

Two main alternatives to the main line 3. Nxe5 (Lines 352-357) are the Modern Attack (3. d4) and the Three Knights Variation (3. Nc3).

The most usual reaction to the Modern Attack (3. d4) is 3… Nxe4, since after 3… exd4 White gets better prospects with 4. e5 Ne4 5. Qxd4 d5 6. exd6 Nxd6 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. Qf4. The variation 3… Nxe4 4. dxe5 has recently become popular, where Black has a choice between the quiet 4… d5 and the sharp 4… Bc5. Move 4. Bd3 leads to the classical variation of the Petroff Defense, where after 4… d5 move 5. Nxe5 is covered separately in our Line 351, while 5. dxe5 represents another frequently played possibility.

If White opts for the Three Knights Variation (3. Nc3), Black can transpose to the Four Knights Opening (Line 358), or he can respond with 3… Bb4, where the game often continues 4. Nxe5 O-O 5. Be2 Re8 6. Nd3 Bxc3 7. dxc3 Nxe4. The ensuing position is more pleasant for White in view of the Bishop pair, though Black is generally able to equalize with accurate play.

[Diagram: White to Move] E. Sveshnikov – D. Fridman, Tallinn (rapid) 2013. Black King is poorly protected, so White can gain a decisive advantage with energetic play. How would you proceed?

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[June 28, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Rubinstein Variation with 7. dxc5

[Line 084 : 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 dxc4 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 c5 6. O-O a6 7. dxc5]

By opting for 7. dxc5 White is ready to trade the Queens in an early stage of the game, fighting for a slight edge. If Black immediately trades the Queens with 7… Qxd1 8. Rxd1 Bxc5, White’s position is a bit more pleasant after 9. Nbd2 O-O 10. Be2 due to his better piece development.

Black’s more common reaction is 7… Bxc5, where after 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 his King will soon be well-placed on the e7-square.

One of the ways to continue as White is 9. Ne5 Ke7 10. Be2, with the idea to place one of the Knights on c4. Still, Black obtains good prospects after 10… Nd7 11. Nc4 Rd8.

Another popular choice is 9. Nbd2 Ke7 10. Be2, where both 10… Bd7 and 10… b6 should be sufficient to equalize.

[Diagram: White to Move] White Knight on c4 is under attack and 16. Ne5 gives him a slight and durable advantage. However, there is even a better way for White to proceed and obtain a more serious edge.

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[June 27, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation with 5. Bd3 (incl. Swiss Cheese Variation)

[Line 445 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 without 5… Bc5, 5… Nf6]

Apart from the most frequently played options 5… Bc5 (Lines 447-448) and 5… Nf6 (Line 446), Black has also tried numerous setups that are examined in this opening line.

Swiss Cheese Variation (5… g6) is not as naive as its name would suggest. Black’s plan usually includes Bg7, Ne7, Nbc6, O-O and later either d7-d6 or d7-d5. Although Black weakens his control of the dark squares, it is not easy for White to make use of it. Probably the simplest way for White to handle this variation is 6. O-O Bg7 7. Nb3 Ne7 8. c4 O-O 9. Nc3, with a slight edge.

Move 5… Ne7 is often followed by Nbc6. White is again able to get somewhat better prospects in more than one way, for instance 6. O-O Nbc6 7. Nxc6 Nxc6 8. Be3 Be7 9. Nd2 O-O 10. c3, where White is ready to meet 10… b5 with 11. a4.

Black can transpose to the main variation of our Line 446 with 5… Qc7 6. O-O Nf6. He can also opt for 5… Nc6 6. Nxc6 dxc6, though White’s position is more promising after 7. Nd2, which is often followed by Nc4 and a4.

[Diagram: White to Move] E. Geller – M. Tal, Biel 1976. Black is prepared to recapture the pawn while activating one of his Knights on d5. Geller has found a nice tactical resource that leads to White’s initiative. How would you proceed?

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[June 26, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Boris Avrukh:
Neo-Gruenfeld Defense, Fianchetto/Exchange Variation

[Line 134 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5]

Line 134 covers one of the main lines in the Fianchetto Variation of the Neo-Gruenfeld. After the most common 5… Nxd5 6. Bg2 Black has a choice between an immediate 6… Nb6, and 6… O-O , which is also later usually followed by Nb6. Variation 6… Nb6 7. Nc3 Nc6 seems to be the more accurate of the two, since if White responds with 8. O-O Black can, aside from 8… O-O 9. d5 Na5, also opt for 8… Nxd4 9. Nxd4 Qxd4, with roughly even chances.

The most popular option in the recent years is a modestly looking 10. e3 O-O 11. O-O, where 11… Re8 is examined in our Line 135. From other Black’s alternatives 11… e5 12. d5 Na5 gives him sufficient counterplay, while 9… a5 allows White to obtain a slight edge with 10. b3 e5 11. Ba3.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has a strong initiative for the sacrificed pawn. How should he proceed to make the best use of his superior piece placement?

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