[September 21, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation – English Attack (incl. Delayed Keres Attack & Perenyi Gambit)

[Line 492 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 without 7. Be2, 7. f3]

Variation with 7. f3 is covered in Lines 493-494, and 7. Be2 leads to the Classical Scheveningen (Line 484-487).

Sharp Delayed Keres Attack (7. g4) is the main point of interest of this opening line, where Black has two viable replies: 7… e5 and 7… h6.

8. Qf3 has been recently tested in a few grandmasters games against the latter Black’s option. He needs to play carefully to gain reasonable counterplay.

After 7… e5 8. Nf5 g6 White is practically forced to sacrifice material by leaving the attacked Knight on f5. Both the Perenyi Gambit (9. g5 gxf5 10. exf5) and 9. Bg2 lead to extensively examined and forced lines, with approximately even chances.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White is an exchange up but Black can make use of his bishop pair to save the game. What is the best continuation for him?

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[September 20, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
King’s Indian Defense, Gligorić-Taimanov Variation without 7… Ng4

[Line 160 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. Be3 without 7… Ng4]

Black’s most frequent choice on 7th move is 7… Ng4, which is covered in our Line 161.

The other popular option is 7… exd4 8. Nxd4 Re8 9. f3 c6, followed by d6-d5. Since moves like 10. Qd2 or 10. O-O leave Black with comfortable play, White usually opts for 10. Bf2. The game often continues 10… d5 11. exd5 cxd5 12. O-O Nc6 13. c5, when Black has two interesting possibilities: 13… Re5 and 13… Bf8.

For club level players we recommend either 7… Qe8 or 7… h6, in both cases connected with the idea Ng4, where with Bg5 White no longer gets an important tempo.

[Diagram: Black to Move] E. Inarkiev – R. Mamedov, Moscow 2015. Inarkiev’s last move was f2-f4, missing Black’s strong reply. Can you see what White failed to notice, thus giving his opponent a big advantage?

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[September 19, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Keres Indian (Pseudo-Nimzo)

[Line 053 : 1. d4 e6 without 2. e4]

Move 2. e4 leads to the French Defense (Lines 321-346), and after the other popular choice (2. Nf3) the game can turn to many different openings: 2… c5 3. e4 transposes to the Paulsen Sicilian; 2… c5 3. c4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 is the English Opening; after both 2… Nf6 and 2… d5 occur variations of the Queen’s Pawn Game.

Keres Indian 2. c4 Bb4+ is in the focus of this opening line (also known as the Pseudo-Nimzo Defense). Covering from the check with 3. Nc3 usually leads to the Nimzo-Indian after 3… Nf6. The other two sensible moves (3. Nd2 and 3. Bd2) both lead to promising positions for White.

After 3. Nd2 Black can not equalize with 3… Nf6 4. a3 Be7 5. e4 d5, since White seizes the initiative with 6. e5 Nfd7 7. Qg4. In other lines, Black often trades his dark-squared Bishop for the Knight on d2, thus leaving White with a small edge due to his bishop pair, just like in e. g. 3… c5 4. a3 Bxd2+ 5. Qxd2 cxd4 6. Qxd4.

Against 3. Bd2 Black can trade off the dark-squared Bishops with 3… Bxd2+ 4. Qxd2, but White remains slightly better after 4… Nf6 5. Nc3 d5 6. e3 O-O 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Bd3, like in the game R. Wojtaszek – D. Vocaturo, Doha 2015. Black’s best option is 3… a5 and transposition to the Bogo-Indian Defense after 4. Nf3 Nf6, since after 4. Nf3 d6 5. Nc3, with later a2-a3 typically gives White a small plus.

[Diagram: White to Move] F. Peralta – R. Reinaldo Castineria, Barcelona 2008. How can White make use of his pawn center to gain a big advantage?

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[September 18, 2016] Updated Opening Article by GM Aleksandar Kovačević:
January 2016 Revisited: Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation: Bastrikov Variation

Our original main line of this variation stems from A. Morozevich – I. Bukavshin, Moscow (rapid) 2015, a marvelous tactical masterpiece by the former World No. 2. New theoretically important developments have appeared ever since, so it was only natural to update this more or less fashionable line.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position had originally appeared in R. Edouard – A. Neiksans, Drancy 2015, and what followed was probably still a part of the French grandmaster’s deep opening preparation. Can you follow in his footsteps and seize a considerable advantage as White?

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[September 16, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Catalan Defense, Closed Variation with 4… Be7

[Line 235 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Be7]

After 5. Bg2 O-O, besides 6. O-O, White has other viable alternatives as well.

The idea of 6. Qc2 is to prepare for 6… dxc4, where after 7. Qxc4 a6 White seizes the initiative with 8. Bf4. Because of that, Black usually opts for 6… c5 7. O-O cxd4 8. Nxd4 e5 with active play.

Gambit move 6. Nc3 is covered in our Line 253, albeit from a from different move order, while 6. Nbd2 leads to solid maneuvering play.

Black has a few popular options against 6. O-O. Line 6… c6 7. Nbd2 b6 8. Qc2 Bb7, followed by Na6 or Nbd7 is not too demanding, yet good enough for Black to get roughly equal positions, while moves like 6… Nc6 and 6… c5 are not as promising.

6… dxc4 is by far the most popular choice for Black on 6th move, where 7. Qc2 is covered in depth in our Lines 236-238. Move 7. Ne5 can frequently be seen on the highest level, too. Black usually reacts with 7… Nc6 and after 8. Bxc6 bxc6 9. Nxc6 Qe8 10. Nxe7+ Qxe7 11. Qc2 the most critical position of this opening line occurs. White often recaptures the c4-pawn, but Black gets sufficient compensation.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s queenside is undeveloped, and being two pawns up is not enough to maintain the balance. How does White make the best of his active pieces to obtain a strong initiative?

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[September 15, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Lasker-Pelikan Variation – Chelyabinsk Variation (Main Line with 12… O-O)

[Line 439 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Nd5 Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. c3 Bg5 12. Nc2 O-O]

It turns out that the old main move 12… O-O is actually an inaccuracy, since White has a nice way to obtain the initiative, even though moves like 13. Be2, 13. g3 or 13. h4 don’t seem to pose Black any problems.

The most promising choice for White is 13. a4 bxa4 14. Rxa4 a5 and here after 15. Bb5 Ne7 16. Ncb4 Bh3! black gets excellent counterplay. That’s why White should proceed with 15. Bc4 and after 15… Rb8 move 16. b3 is more precise than the similar-looking 16. Ra2.

After 16. b3 Kh8 17. Nce3 the most critical position of this opening line occurs. After 17… Nce7 White gets a small but stable advantage with 18. Nxe7 Qxe7 19. Nd5 Qd8 20. O-O. Other options are even less promising for Black: after 17… g6 18. h4 Bxh4 19. g3 Bg5 20. f4 Black is in serious problems, while after 17… Be6 18. h4 Bf4 19. Nf5 g6 20. Nfe3 White again threatens to launch the attack along the h-file.

[Diagram: White to Move] V. Kramnik – L. Van Wely, Monte Carlo (rapid) 2005. Black took the poisoned pawn on h4, which gave White a very important resource. What is the best way to proceed?

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