[September 14, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Modern Defense with 4. Be3

[Line 293 : 1. e4 d6 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Be3]

Modern Defense is very similar to the Pirc Defense, though here Black opts to postpone the development of his Knight on g8.

The plan with 4. Be3 against the Modern Defense is the most flexible one, leaving White with multiple options: he can continue with f2-f4, f2-f3 or Nf3, depending on his opponent’s reaction.

Black’s common reply is 4… a6, followed by b7-b5 and Bb7. There are a few promising possibilities for White: one is a straightforward plan with 5. h4 Nf6 6. f3, exerting pressure on the kingside with g2-g4; the other is 5. f4 b5 6. Bd3 Bb7 7. Nf3 where White builds a strong pawn center; and the third – 5. Qd2 b5 6. h4 h6 7. O-O-O, which leads to double-edged position. Among the recent notable games in this opening line is Wei Yi – M. Carlsen, Bilbao 2016.

The other popular option for Black is 4… c6, again followed by b7-b5. White, here as well, has a pleasant choice, this time between 5. Qd2 b5 6. Bd3 Nd7 7. Nf3 and 5. f4 Nd7 6. Nf3.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black King is stuck in the center and the weaknesses of dark squares around him leave White with some mean ideas. How can White reinforce the attack? Hint: If white Queen comes to d6, Black can hardly save the game!

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[September 13, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Vadim Zvjaginsev:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Classical Variation – Keres Defense with 7. Bg5 Bb7 8. e3

[Line 185 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 b6 7. Bg5 Bb7 8. e3]

The most common plan for Black in this line is 8… d6, with the idea Nbd7, c5 and Rc8.

For club level players we recommend 9. f3, followed by Bd3 and Ne2.

The other frequent choice of players of White is 9. Ne2. White wants, after moving the Queen, to put the Knight on c3, and than to develop his light-squared Bishop. The game usually continues with 9… Nbd7 10. Qc2 c5 11. Rd1, and here Black has a few promising options: 11… Qe7, 11… Qc7 and 11… Rc8.

[Diagram: White to Move] Rook on d4 is under attack, but moving it means losing the Bishop on c4. However, White can make use of the fact that black Queen is far away from the kingside. What is the best way to proceed as White?

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[September 12, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Alatortsev Variation & Schara-Hennig

[Line 061 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 without 3. Nf3]

After the introductory two moves shown above, two most natural third moves for White are 3. Nf3, covered in Line 063 and 3. Nc3, which is the topic of this opening line.

After 3. Nc3 Black usually choses between Alatortsev Variation (3… Be7), classical Queen’s Gambit Declined with 3… Nf6 (Line 171), the so-called Triangle Setup 3… c6 (Line 067) or even 3… Bb4. There are also a few sidelines that are occasionally seen on grandmaster level: the solid 3… a6, risky Schara-Hennig Gambit (3… c5 4. cxd5 cxd4) or, a not very promising line for Black with 3… dxc4.

Against the Alatortsev Variation, apart from a transposition to Line 253 with 4. Nf3 Nf6, and the common 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bf4, White can also opt for immediate 4. Bf4, followed by 4… Nf6 5. e3 O-O 6. a3, with the idea Nb5.

The most frequent choice after 3… Be7 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bf4 is 5… c6, covered in our Line 062, but Black has another option – 5… Nf6. After 6. e3 Black again has two notable possibilities: 6… Bf5 and 6… O-O

[Diagram: White to Move] White pieces are aiming at Black King. What is the best way for White to proceed with the attack?

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[September 11, 2016] Updated Opening Article by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
October 2015 Revisited: Ruy Lopez, Flohr-Zaitsev Variation with 11… cxd4

This line can occasionally be seen even at the top level, which makes this update all the more interesting as it contains several important contributions from the best engines that reveal significant improvements on grandmaster-level games.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position can be found in our analysis of a last year’s game between two good WGMs: D. Ciuksyte  – I. Bulmaga, Reykjavik 2015. Our article features an important improvement for White, and the key point lies in the next move: although it seems that White has to choose between two reasonable recaptures on e5, there is actually a third possibility that makes great use of the Black’s pieces lack of coordination.  

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[September 10, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Old Indian, Budapest Gambit & Accelerated Queen’s Indian Defence

[Line 115 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 without 2… e6, 2… g6, 2… c5]

There are a few offbeat openings that Black can choose apart from 2… e6 (Lines 170-285), 2… g6 (Lines 123-169) and 2… c5 (Lines 116-122), and they are examined in this opening line. Move 2… c6 most frequently transposes to the Slav Defense, after 3. Nc3 d5 or 3. Nf3 d5, so the main focus of this line are the Old Indian Defense (2… d6) and the Budapest Gambit (2… e5).

The Old Indian resembles the King’s Indian, but the fact that the Knight on d7 and the Bishop on e7 are not as active as in the King’s Indian, gives White freedom to seize the center. After 2… d6 3. Nf3 Nbd7 4. Nc3 e5 5. e4 Be7 6. Be2 c6 7. O-O O-O White holds a stable advantage both with 8. Qc2 and 8. Be3.

The Budapest Gambit, though interesting and unconventional, doesn’t give Black equal play. After 2… e5 3. dxe5 Ng4, the most promising move is 4. Bf4. Black should avoid 4… g5 in view of 5. Bg3 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bg7 7. h4 and he gets in serious trouble. He should play 4… Nc6 5. Nf3 Bb4+ instead, though here White also obtains an edge both after 6. Nc3 and 6. Nbd2.

Accelerated Queen’s Indian Defence (2.. b6) is another opening covered here. Two promising options for White are 3. Nc3 Bb7 4. Qc2 and 3. f3 Nc6 4. Nc3

[Diagram: Black to Move] White would be glad to trade off the Queens, but Black has other plans; Qh3 is not possible because the Rook on e8 is hanging, so how can Black launch an almost decisive attack?

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[September 07, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Tarrasch Variation (incl. Morozevich & Guimard Variations)

[Line 325 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 without 3… c5, 3… Nf6]

Apart from the most popular systems: Open System (3… c5) covered in Lines 327-330, 3… Nf6 (Line 326) and Rubinstein Variation (3… dxe4 4. Nxe4, Lines 331-335) Black has at his disposal various alternatives.

Among the variations that are presented here, Morozevich Variation (3… Be7) apears to be the most promising. There are three major choices for White on the fourth move:

Move 4. Ngf3 leads to dynamic battles. After 4… Nf6 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bd3 c5 7. c3 Nc6 occurs a critical position. White is later often obliged to sacrifice the d4-pawn, or to cede his strong pawn center with dxc5, but in return he gets half-opened e- and d-files for his rooks.

More quiet alternative for White is 4. Bd3. The game then usually continues with 4… c5 5. dxc5 Nf6 6. Qe2 Nc6 7. Ngf3, and here Black is able to get even chances with 7… Nb4.

With 4. e5 c5 5. Qg4 White wants to make use of the fact that black Bishop isn’t defending the g7-pawn. Yet, Black is willing to defend the pawn with the King 5… Kf8, and after 6. dxc5 Nc6 he gets sufficient counterplay.

Guimard Variation (3… Nc6) has its share of followers, but White should be able to get a preferable position after 4. Ngf3 Nf6 5. e5 Nd7 6. Bd3.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black is a pawn up and attacking on f2, but White has a path to longterm initiative with enterprising play!

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