NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[May 01, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Anti-Moscow Gambit – Main Line

[Line 271 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 dxc4 7. e4 g5 8. Bg3 b5 9. Be2 Bb7 with 10. O-O, 10. h4]

The two most frequently played possibilities for White on the 10th move, 10. O-O and 10. h4, are the topic of this opening line.

An almost exclusive reply to 10. O-O is 10… Nbd7. Here, after the most common 11. Ne5, Black has at his disposal a couple of moves of about the same strength: 11… Bg7, 11… h5 and 11… a6. The main line goes 11… Bg7 12. Nxd7 Nxd7 13. Bd6 a6 14. a4 b4, where apart from 15. Bxb4 Qb6 16. Ba3 Qxd4 17. Qc2, White has an interesting piece sacrifice in 15. d5 bxc3 16. dxe6 Ne5 17. Bh5, in both cases with sufficient compensation.

The other very popular option is 10. h4 g4 11. Ne5. This also leads to considerable complications, where Black gets roughly equal chances with 11… Rg8, 11… Nbd7 and 11… h5.

[Diagram: White to Move] V. Kozlov – J. Lehtosaari, corr. 2011. White is a Knight down, yet black King is stuck in the center, while the arrangement of the pieces on the e-file gives White strong motives. How should White continue and gain a big edge?

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NEW OPENING ARTICLE

[April 30, 2017] Dusted Off: Opening Survey by GM Vadim Zvjaginsev
The Leningrad Dutch with 7… Qe8 8. Re1 (10. Ng5!?)

After GM Vučković’s update of our Line 050 it seemed like a logical idea to revisit this article as well. While this opening line might not be the most fashionable one, some top-tier engine games have kept it theoretically relevant over the past few years. However, top level grandmaster clashes remain the most important games in this variation: B. Gelfand – P. Svidler, Jerusalem (rapid) 2014, S. Mamedyarov – A. Grischuk, Baku 2014 & E. Bacrot – V. Ivanchuk, Ashdod 2015.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White is a pawn down, but Black’s light-squared bishop is hanging, and his rook on a8 is doomed. Should Black capture on f3, or he would be better off trying something else?

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NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[April 29, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Dutch Defense, Leningrad Variation

[Line 050 : 1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 g6]

A big branching in the Leningrad Variation occurs after 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. c4 d6 7. Nc3. The most popular options here are 7… c6, 7… Qe8 and 7… Nc6.

Move 7… c6 is a flexible choice, not yet revealing the arrangement of the pieces. If White continues with 8. b3, move 8… Na6 followed by Qc7 and e7-e5 gives Black a decent play. In case of 8. Rb1, probably the best reply is 8… Ne4 and the e7-e5 advance soon follows. The third common option is 8. d5, where again after the topical 8… e5 Black should be fine.

The idea of 7… Qe8 is an early e7-e5, but White is able to get somewhat better prospects with 8. b3 e5 9. dxe5 dxe5 10. e4!

After 7… Nc6 8. d5 Black responds with either 8… Na5 or 8… Ne5, and in both cases White’s position is preferable.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Bu Xiangzi – Zhang Zhong, Beijing (rapid) 2008. Black’s plan is clear – exerting pressure on the kingside against the weakened white King. How would you proceed with Black to gain a longterm initiative?

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NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[April 27, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Dragon Variation with 6. Be3

[Line 465 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3]

After the usual follow-up 6… Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 comes a big branching in the Dragon Variation. Yugoslav Attack (9. Bc4) is covered in our Line 466, while 9. O-O-O is another very popular option.

If Black responds to castling long with 9… Nxd4 or 9… Bd7, White is able to achieve a longterm initiative. For that reason, the main line goes 9. O-O-O d5, where 10. Kb1, 10. Qe1, and even 10. Nxc6 are interesting alternatives to the most common 10. exd5. The game frequently proceeds with 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bd4. Now moves 12… e5 and 12… Nxc3 allow White to get a small edge, while 12… Bxd4 13. Qxd4 Qb6, though easier to play with White, should generally give Black decent prospects.

For club level players we recommend 9. g4, where from Black’s several responses the best option is 9… Be6, with roughly equal chances.

[Diagram: Black to Move] A. Istratescu – B. Chatalbashev, Graz 2015. Black’s heavy artillery is tripled on the c-file, but how can he gain something concrete out of it?

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NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[April 26, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
King’s Indian Defense – Normal Variation; Modern Benoni – Four Pawns Attack

[Line 151 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4]

Line 151 is an introductory line of the Normal Variation in the King’s Indian Defense. Positions arising after 4… O-O usually transpose to those starting with the more common 4… d6. The most frequently played options on 4… d6 are covered in other opening lines: 5. Nf3 in Lines 157-169, 5. f3 in Lines 153-155, 5. Be2 in Line 156, while 5. h3 and 5. Bd3 can be found in Line 152.

Move 5. Bg5 is rarely seen nowadays since Black gets comfortable positions in a couple of ways.

Four Pawns Attack (5. f4) is one of the most aggressive possibilities in the King’s Indian. Our main recommendation for Black is 5… O-O 6. Nf3 c5, where both 7. d5 and 7. dxc5 lead to highly complicated positions with mutual chances.

The other popular choice is 5. Nge2, with positions resembling those from the Saemisch Variation, since White later often plays f2-f3. After 5… O-O White can continue with 6. Ng3 or 6. f3. In both cases Black gets good prospects both with 6… c5 and 6… e5.

[Diagram: Black to Move] The Knight on b4 is under attack and its retreat would give White the necessary time to consolidate. How can Black, in the diagrammed position, gain a longterm initiative with an energetic play?

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NEW UPDATED OPENING LINE

[April 25, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Slav Defense – Neo-Meran, Wade Variation (Larsen Variation)

[Line 278 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3 Bb7 without 9. O-O]

The initial position of Line 278 is called the Wade Variation (also known as the Larsen Variation), and is currently the most popular treatment of the Neo-Meran. The main continuation for White (9. O-O) is covered in our Line 279, and the other two options are examined in this opening line: 9. a3 and 9. e4.

By playing 9. a3 White plans to proceed with e3-e4, where he can meet b5-b4 with axb4. Black usually chooses 9… Bd6, and is ready to counter 10. e4 with 10… e5. White can slowly develop pieces by playing 10. O-O O-O 11. Bd2 a5, with a roughly equal position. Black also has other means to equalize, for example 9… a6 10. b4 a5 11. Rb1 Nd5 12. Nxd5 exd5, and he should be fine.

Against 9. e4 Black typically immediately reacts in the center by playing 9… b4 10. Na4 c5 11. e5 Nd5, again with equal chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black is a pawn up, but it is rather inconsequential since White exerts strong pressure along the e-file. That being said, how can White gain a substantial advantage in the diagrammed position?

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