[February 19, 2017] Busted: Updated Opening Article by GM Boris Avrukh:
Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Central Variation, Kramnik’s Huge Preparation

March 2014 Revisited: 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. Bxc4 Nb6 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Be3 Nb4 8. Be4 f5 9. a3

There were some new interesting developments in the line 9. a3! since it was introduced by Kramnik against Karjakin in Khanty-Mansiysk 2014.

A couple of fresh grandmaster games continued with 9… Nd5, where our recommendation remains the same – 10. Bf3, with more pleasant position for White.

The main extension of this opening article is after 9… fxe4 10. axb4 e6 11. Nc3 Nd5, where in the last 2-3 years a plenty of engine games have been played. Though Black  gets some counterchances, move 12. Qg4! still gives White better prospects.

[Diagram: White to Move] The end of the combination conducted by White; how can he finish the attack in great style?

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[February 18, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Kasparov-Petrosian Variation with 5… d5 6. Bg5

[Line 209 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Bb7 5. Nc3 d5 6. Bg5]

After the usual 6… Be7, three choices of White are seen quite frequently.

The idea of 7. Qa4+ is to disrupt Black piece development. Move 7… Qd7 should give Black enough for equalization, for example 8. Qc2 dxc4 9. e3 Bxf3 10. gxf3 b5, though more common reaction is 7… c6, where position arising after 8. Bxf6 Bxf6 9. cxd5 exd5 10. g3 O-O 11. Bg2 Re8 is balanced.

The alternative 7. e3 leads to slow strategical battles, where game often proceeds with 7… O-O 8. Rc1 Nbd7 9. cxd5 exd5 10. Be2 c5.

The third possibility is 7. Bxf6 Bxf6 8. cxd5 exd5, where Black is able to get comfortable position against any of the following options of White: 9. Qb3, 9. Qa4+ and 9. g3.

[Diagram: Black to Move] A. Shimanov – T. Markowski, Warsaw 2014. White’s last move 13. b2-b4? gave Black an unexpected opportunity to gain considerable advantage. What should he do in the diagrammed position?

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[February 17, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Classical Variation – Keres Defense without 7. Bg5

[Line 183 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 b6 without 7. Bg5]

In addition to 7. Bg5 (covered in Line 184) White can also play 7. Nf3, which is an option of approximately the same strength. Though after 7. Nf3 Bb7 he can opt for 8. Bg5 or 8. g3, move 8. e3 is the most common choice of White. Here, Black has two substantially different plans.

The idea of 8… d5 is connected with Nbd7, and either dxc4 or c7-c5. An illustrative line could be 9. b3 Nbd7 10. Be2 c5 11. O-O Rc8, with roughly equal game.

The more typical setup is 8… d6, followed by Nbd7, Ne4, and f7-f5, creating a counterplay on the kingside. After the frequently seen 9. Be2 Nbd7 10. O-O Ne4 11. Qc2 f5 12. b4 move 12… Rf6 clearly indicates Black’s intentions. Black should not accept pawn sacrifice after 13. d5; instead, he should carry on with the initial plan with 13… Rg6, with good prospects.

[Diagram: Black to Move] A. Karpov – J. Polgar, Zuerich (rapid) 2009. Judit failed to find the way to make use of White’s undeveloped kingside, which would have given her a clear edge. Can you see it?

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[February 16, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Reti Opening – King’s Indian Attack without 4… Bg4

[Line 027 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 c6 4. O-O]

Move 4… Bg4 is considered to be the main variation of the Reti Opening, and it is covered in our Line 028. Though 4… g6 and 4… Nbd7 are also quite reasonable, 4… Bf5 is the main alternative.

One of the popular plans for White against 4… Bf5 is 5. d3 followed by Nbd2, and either Qe1 with e2-e4, or b2-b3 with Bb2 and c2-c4. In both cases, Black gets comfortable positions after a couple of natural moves.

Early 5. c4 is the most ambitious reaction to 4… Bf5. If Black goes for 5… dxc4, White gets a better development with 6. Na3, where after 6… b5 7. b3 White gets a strong initiative. The more usual is 5… e6 6. cxd5 exd5, where after 7. d3, with the idea of Nc3 and e2-e4, Black needs to be careful to neutralize White’s plan.

[Diagram: Black to Move] P. Svidler – A. Morozevich, Sochi (blitz) 2014. Morozevich missed the chance, though in a blitz game, to capitalize on his opponent’s mistake. What is the best continuation for Black?

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[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!

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[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?

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