[June 11, 2017] Updated Opening Article by GM Borki Predojević:
February 2017 Revisited: Italian Game, Giuoco Pianissimo with 8. a4!?

The fifth update of this opening article after it was originally published in February 2016 again brings contributions from the world’s top guns. Among the most interesting additions are V. Kramnik – S. Karjakin, Stavanger 2017 from the ongoing super-GM slugfest in Norway, and M. Vachier-Lagrave – L. Aronian, London 2016, which is currently the most promising line for the players of Black.

[Diagram: Black to Move] In spite of the opposite colored bishops, Black has to be careful and take care of his a-pawn. How would you proceed?

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[June 10, 2017] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, King’s Knight Variation & The Anglo-Gruenfeld

[Line 037 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3]

This update is a small tribute to our late colleague GM Dragan Paunović. In memory of our dear friend, our Editorial Board will continue updating his lines and articles.

Depending on their preferences, players of Black usually choose among the following: 3… Bg7, offering a transposition to the King’s Indian Defense with 4. e4 d6 5. d4 (Line 157), English Opening 3… c5 (covered in our Line 032), and The Anglo-Gruenfeld (3… d5), which is a preferred choice of the Gruenfeld Defense aficionados. The latter is the main point of interest of this opening line, where apart from 4. d4 (Line 146), White also has other notable options: 4. cxd5 and 4. Qa4+.

After the most frequent 4. cxd5 Nxd5, move 5. g3 is covered in Line 038, and the positions arising after 5. Qa4+ and 5. Qb3 Nb6 6. d4 Bg7 7. e4 Bg4 can be found in our Line 039. From other options, 5. h4 and 5. Qc2 deserve serious attention, while in case of 5. e4 Nxc3 6. dxc3 Qxd1+ 7. Kxd1 Black generally does not have difficulties reaching the equality.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White is behind in development, while his Queen is generally more vulnerable than active. How should Black proceed to get a substantial advantage?

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[June 09, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Caro-Kann Defense, Advance Variation – Short Variation with 5… Ne7

[Line 319 : 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 Ne7]

Though moves 6. Nbd2 and 6. c3 are seen quite often, 6. O-O is considered to be the main line. Now, 6… Nd7 is covered in our Line 318 with a slightly different move order, while 6… c5 is another viable option that should leave Black with just enough resources to equalize.

The most promising possibility for Black is the prophylactic 6… h6 – it frees the h7-square for the light-squared Bishop, and at the same time facilitates the topical g7-g5 advance. An illustrative variation could be: 6… h6 7. Nbd2 Nd7 8. Nb3 g5, where Black’s plan often includes Bg7 and f7-f6. Later on, depending on the situation, both short and long castling for Black should be options worth considering.

The overall assessment of this opening line is that Black is generally able to achieve equal play with a couple of accuracies.

[Diagram: White to Move] P. Svidler – A. Dreev, Elista 1998. Active White pieces more than compensate for the sacrificed pawn. How can White make the best of his piece activity and gain a big edge?

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[June 08, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Rubinstein Variation – Normal Variation (Bronstein Variation)

[Line 192 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Bd3 d5 6. Nf3 c5 7. O-O dxc4 8. Bxc4 Nbd7]

In reply to the most common 9. a3 Black has a choice among the following possibilities: 9… Ba5, 9… cxd4, and 9… Bxc3. In any case he gets reasonable practical chances, for example: 9… Ba5 10. Bd2 cxd4 11. Nxd4 Ne5 12. Be2 Bd7, 9… cxd4 10. axb4 dxc3 11. bxc3 Qc7 12. Qb3 Nb6 13. Be2 e5, or9… Bxc3 10. bxc3 b6 11. Re1 Bb7 12. Bd3 Ne4, with equality.

The other two popular options for White are 9. Qe2 and 9. Qb3. Both of these moves are often accompanied with Rd1 and d4-d5. In these variations, as well as in other positions covered in this opening line, Black usually gets comfortable play without difficulties.

[Diagram: White to Move] L. Swahnberg – S. Dost, corr. 2006. White gets a small and stable advantage with 15. bxc3, but he can achieve even more. What would you propose?

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[June 07, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Scheveningen Variation – English Attack with 6… e6 7. f3 b5 8. g4

[Line 494 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. f3 b5 8. g4]

Although moves 8… b4 and 8… Bb7 are perfectly possible, playing 8… h6 is much more to the point, preventing White from further advancing his g-pawn.

After the most common 8… h6 9. Qd2 move 9… Nbd7, though seen quite often, allows White to get better prospects with 10. a3 Bb7 11. O-O-O. For instance, after 11… Rc8 12. h4 d5 13. Rg1, as well as 11… d5 12. exd5 Nxd5 13. Nxd5 Bxd5 14. Bg2, White has the initiative. For that reason we recommend the immediate 9… b4 for the players of Black, where after 10. Nce2 both 10… Nbd7 and 10… e5 should provide sufficient counterplay.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Morozevich – M. Vachier-Lagrave, Biel 2009. In this spectacular game Morozevich had an opportunity to go for the kill, yet he missed it and eventually even lost the game. Can you find the winning sequence for White?

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[June 05, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Caro-Kann Defense, Karpov Variation (Tiviakov-Fischer Attack & Smyslov Variation)

[Line 308 : 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Bc4]

After the most common 5… Ngf6 White has at his disposal the Tiviakov-Fischer Attack (6. Nxf6+), where after 6… Nxf6 7. c3, move 7… Nd5, followed by Bf5 and e7-e6, gives Black a fairly comfortable position.

For that reason, players of White more often opt for the Smyslov Variation 6. Ng5 e6 7. Qe2. Since White now threatens Nxf7, Black is practically obliged to reply with 7… Nb6, where both 8. Bb3 and 8. Bd3 are thoroughly examined. Whatever White chooses to play, Black can respond with h7-h6, followed by c6-c5. When the Bishop is on b3, it also deserves serious intention to first include a7-a5. The overall evaluation of this variation is that Black usually gets good prospects without difficulties.

[Diagram: White to Move] M. Dorer – R. Mislin, corr. 2005. Black’s queenside is undeveloped, which gives White motifs on the other side of the board, where black King is a bit exposed. How would you proceed as White from the diagrammed position?

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