[February 15, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Winawer Variation – Main Line

[Line 345 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 without 7. Qg4]

Apart from 7. Qg4 (Line 346), which is the most aggressive line of the Winawer Variation, White has a couple of choices that are more positional.

A natural developing move 7. Nf3 is often associated with the a3-a4-a5 advance, and if Black moves c5-c4 or goes for the exchange with cxd4, White dark-squared Bishop can become a very powerful piece on a3. An exemplary line can be 7. Nf3 Bd7 8. a4 Qa5 9. Bd2 Nbc6, with a balanced position.

The idea of 7. h4 is to gain some space on the kingside. In this case, Black usually avoids short castling, and either opts for a queenside castling or leaves his King in the center. Black is able to get even chances in more than a one way, as in 7. h4 Nbc6 8. h5 h6 9. Nf3 Qa5 10. Bd2 Qc7.

White can go for 7. a4, where the occurring positions greatly resemble those appearing in the 7. Nf3 line.

[Diagram: White to Move] White Bishop is under attack, and Black is ready to play f7-f6 against the g4-g5 threat, creating some counterplay. How should White continue in the diagrammed position?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[February 14, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Slav Defense, Modern Line

[Line 087 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qc2 dxc4 5. Qxc4 Bf5]

Modern Line of the Slav Defense, covered in this opening line, resembles the Catalan Defense. The biggest difference is that black bishop is here placed on f5, compared to c8 or b7 in the Catalan. After the usual follow-up 6. g3 e6 7. Bg2 Nbd7 8. O-O Be7, beside the most frequently played 9. Nc3, White has an alternative in 9. e3, and on 9… O-O, either 10. Rd1 or 10. Qe2.

The main line goes 9. Nc3 O-O 10. Re1, planning the e2-e4 push on the next move. Though 10… Bg6 11. e4 b5 is an interesting option, players of Black more often go for 10… Ne4, where in the position arising after 11. Qb3 Qb6 12. Nh4 Black can equalize either with 12… Bh4 13. gxh4 Ndf6, or 12… Qxb3 13. axb3 Bb4 14. Nxf5 exf5.

[Diagram: White to Move] This one is pretty easy – White wins the game in just a couple of moves, by using Black’s poor control of the dark squares!

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[February 13, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation – Taimanov-Bastrikov Variation (Bastrikov Variation with 6. Be3)

[Line 455 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be3]

After the most common 6… a6, White has a couple of highly popular options: 7. Qd2 (Line 456), 7. f4 (transposing to Line 453), 7. Qf3, 7. Bd3 and 7. Be2.

Move 7. Qf3 is an introduction to the most frequently seen line of the Paulsen Variation in the modern grandmaster practice. Black has tried almost a dozen choices, and at least two of them, namely 7… Nf6 8. O-O-O Ne5 9. Qg3 b5 and 7… Ne5 8. Qg3 h5, lead to balanced positions.

If White opts for 6… a6 7. Bd3 Nf6 8. O-O, we recommend either 8… Ne5 9. h3 Bc5 or 8… b5 9. Nxc6 Qxc6, in both case with complex positions and even chances.

Move 7. Be2 more often leads to quiet lines, where after 7… Nf6 White can transfer to the main variation of Line 454 with 8. O-O, or carry out with an independent plan after 8. a3.

If Black postpones a7-a6 by playing 6… Nf6, White gets favorable position with 7. f4 Bb4 8. Ndb5 Qa5 9. e5 Nd5 10. Bd2 Nxc3 11. Bxc3.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s undeveloped kingside gives White motives that enable him to get a big advantage. How should he continue?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[February 12, 2017] Trusted: Opening Survey by GM Aleksandar Kovačević
Catalan Defense, Closed Variation with 7… b6 (12. Rd1)

Nakamura’s three-peat at the Gibraltar Tradewise Open was nothing short of impressive, so examining his weapon of choice in the decisive game of the first leg of the play-offs seems quite logical. In addition to two high-profile grandmaster games – R. Kasimdzhanov – A. Kovalyov, Baku 2015 and M. Rodshtein – A. Franco Alonso, Linares 2014, our examination of this variation will also include a number of theoretically important engine games, which will surely broaden our understanding of this rather fashionable line.

[Diagram: Black to Move] H. Nakamura – Yu Yangyi, Caleta (rapid, m/3) 2017. Moves like Nd6 or Ne3 typically annoy Black, so he has to act quickly before his opponent’s pressure becomes unpleasant. Any ideas?

Click here to see the article in our viewer…


[February 11, 2017] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Korchnoi’s Variation

[Line 038 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. g3]

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.

After the usual follow-up 5… Bg7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O occurs a major branching of this opening variation. If Black continues with 7… c5, notable choices of White include 8. Qa4 and 8. d4, yet 8. Nxd5 Qxd5 9. d3 Nc6 10. Be3 is the most frequently played one. Black can obtain equality without difficulties, often including simplification of the position, like in 10… Bd7 11. Nd4 Qd6 12. Nxc6 Bxc6 13. Bxc6 Qxc6.

Other possibilities are 7… Nc6 8. d4 e5!?, 7… e5 (known as the Kortchnoi’s Variation) and 7… Nxc3 8. bxc3 c5, that should also be fine for Black.

For club level players we recommend an interesting sideline – 5… Bg7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. h4, trying to provoke Black to weaken the kingside with 7… h6, where positions arising after 8. O-O Nc6 9. d4 typically favor White.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Adorjan – P. Popovic, Vrbas 1980. Black Bishop went astray on a4, which gives White motives connected with double attack. How can White win material in the diagrammed position?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[February 10, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Anti-Moscow Gambit

[Line 270 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. Bg5 h6 without 6. Bxf6]

In this line White has a choice on 6th move between two very different types of position: the quiet Moscow Variation 6. Bxf6 (Lines 272-273), and the very sharp Anti-Moscow Gambit 6. Bh4. In the latter case, the game usually continues with 6. Bh4 dxc4 7. e4, where 7… b5 8. e5 transposes to the main line of the Botvinnik Variation, though nowadays players of Black usually prefer 7… g5 8. Bg3 b5. Though White has a couple of possibilities here, move 9. Ne5 is an alternative of equivalent strength to the main 9. Be2.

As the response to 9. Be2, Black frequently opts for 9… Bb7, while 9… b4 10. Na4 Nxe4 and 9… Bg7 are also viable. In fact, position arising after 6. Bh4 g5 7. Bg3 dxc4 8. e4 b5 9. Be2 Bb7 is a modern chess opening tabiya, where 10. O-O and 10. h4 are covered in our Line 271. Other well-investigated options are 10. Ne5, 10. e5 and 10. Qc2, and they are the point of interest of this opening line.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s vulnerable King and poor Queen placement allow White to launch a decisive attack, starting with a nice tactical blow!

Click here to see the line in our viewer…