[August 23, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Old Sicilian (Miscellaneous)

[Line 422 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 without 3. Bb5, 3. d4]

In addition to 3. d4 (Lines 428-439) and 3. Bb5 (Lines 424-428), move 3. Nc3 is also quite popular.

Black’s common reaction 3… e5 is covered separately in our Line 423. If Black chooses 3… e6 or 3… a6 the game most often transposes to the Paulsen Variation.

After 3… d6, if White continues with 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Black has a viable alternative to 5… Nf6 (Lines 469-476) in 5… e5.

If Black opts for 3… g6, White can transpose to the Accelerated Dragon with 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 or respond with 4. Bc4 or 4. Bb5.

Move 3… Nf6 is the usual preference of the Lasker-Pelikan Variation aficionados, since it invites the most logical transposition: 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4. After 4. Bb5 probably the best option for Black is 4… Qc7 5. O-O Nd4 with mutual chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] H. Walsh – V. Turicnik, corr. 2005. White Knight and Rook are under attack, but if White plays accurately his kingside initiative will guarantee him an advantage.

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[August 22, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Classical Variation with 6… d5

[Line 182 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 d5]

Move 6… d5 is considered to give Black a simple game, as the plan is easy: dxc4, b7-b6, Ba6, Nbd7 and c7-c5.

If White opts for 7. Bg5, in addition to the initial plan, Black can sacrifice a pawn with 7… c5 8. dxc5 d4, obtaining sufficient compensation.

Move 7. cxd5 allows Black to obtain excellent prospects with 7… Ne4, followed by exd5 and either c7-c5 or Nc6.

The main move is 7. Nf3 where after 7… dxc4 8. Qxc4 b6 9. Bg5 Ba6 White retreats the Queen to a4, c2 or c3, and in any case, Black has a few paths to full equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black has a poorly protected King and undeveloped queenside. What is the best way for White to make use of it?

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[August 21, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Dutch Defense, Normal Variation

[Line 048 : 1. d4 f5 without 2. g3]

Line 048 deals with alternatives to the most frequently played Fianchetto Variation (2. g3), which is covered in our Lines 049-050.

By choosing 2. c4 White keeps the option of a later transposition to the Fianchetto. After 2… Nf6 3. Nc3 Black can opt either for 3… e6, or for the kingside fianchetto 3… g6. In the first case, after 3… e6 4. g3 d5 5. Bg2 c6 occurs a position from the Stonewall Variation with the difference that white Knight is already developed on c3, which could be in Black’s favor, since White can no longer play a standard maneuver Nb1-d2-f3. That’s why the game often continues with 3… e6 4. Nf3 Bb4 where Black should get equal chances, too. In case of 3… g6, White has an interesting gambit line in 4. h4, followed by h4-h5 and the exchange sacrifice on h5.

From the notable sidelines for White, we should also mention 2. Nc3 and after 2… Nf6 both the positional 3. Bg5 and sharp 3. e4 fxe4 4. Bg5 deserve serious attention.

For club level players we recommend 2. Bg5 with some similarities with the Trompowsky Attack, and for beginners we suggest 2. Bf4 with the idea e2-e3, Nf3 and h3, and a very solid position.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has superior development and, if he wants to make use of it, he needs to play proactively!

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[August 20, 2018] Trusted: Opening Survey by GM Aleksandar Kovačević
March 18, 2018 Revisited: The Closed Catalan with 7… b6 (8. Ne5 Qxd4)

After Caruana uncorked his ambitious plan against Ding Liren at the Candidates 2018, a series of important games followed in this line. The theoretical relevance of these games is great, and some of them will probably become trend setters for their variations. For instance, L. Dominguez Perez – L. Aronian, Saint Louis (rapid) 2018 from the recently finished Sinquefield Cup rapid event, and G. Meier – B. Deac, Batumi 2018 are quite topical for this line.

[Diagram: White to Move] What was the right choice for White in L. Aronian – Hou Yifan, Tbilisi 2017 that could have secured him a lasting endgame advantage in the diagrammed position?

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[August 19, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Pirc Defense, Byrne Variation

[Line 297 : 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 without 4. Be3, 4. Nf3, 4. f4]

Other more popular variations of the Pirc Defense are covered in our Lines 298-300, and Line 297 deals primarily with 4. Bg5, 4. g3 and 4. Be2.

Byrne Variation (4. Bg5) is certainly one of the lines posing the most problems for Black. There are basically two plans connected with it. One starts with early Qd2 followed by long castling, and the other relies on the expansion in the center with f2-f4 and Nf3, where the Bishop on g5 is placed very actively. An illustrative lines could be 4… Bg7 5. Qd2 h6 6. Bh4 O-O 7. O-O-O c6 and 4… Bg7 5. f4 O-O 6. Nf3 c6 7. Bd3 Qb6, in both cases with mutual play.

Fianchetto System (4. g3) leads to calm maneuvering play, for example 4… Bg7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. Nge2 e5 7. h3 c6, and the position is balanced.

The idea of 4. Be2 is supporting of the h-pawn advance after 4… Bg7 5. h4. Here both 5… Nc6 and 5… c5 promises Black equal chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s extra pawn is hardly something to be proud of in the diagrammed position. How does White make a clear plus from his superior piece development and poor placement of the black Queen?

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[August 18, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Marshall Attack with 12. d4

[Line 401 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 c6 12. d4]

The Marshall Attack is considered promising for Black to such extent that it is frequently avoided even on the grandmaster level by the players of White.

After the most common 12… Bd6 13. Re1 Qh4 14. g3 Qh3 occurs the main tabiya of the Marshall Attack. One of the possible responses from White is 15. Be3, where after 15… Bg4 16. Qd3 Rae8 17. Nd2 Black has two viable continuations – 17… Re6 and 17… Qh5, while after 17… f5 18. Qf1 Qh5 19. f4 Black probably doesn’t have sufficient compensation.

In addition to 15. Be3, White also has two other moves of approximately the same strength: 15. Qe2 and 15. Re4. In both cases, Black has several ways of obtaining equal chances.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Material is balanced in the diagrammed position, but Black is the one who has the initiative. However, he cannot play either Qh3 or Qxh4, because White can counter both moves with Qxf3. So, what is the best way for Black to continue and launch a decisive attack?

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