[November 16, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Slav Defense – Stoltz Variation (Main Line with 9… b5)

[Line 285 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. O-O dxc4 9. Bxc4 b5]

By playing 9… b5 Black has attacked the Bishop on c4, intends to play Bb7, and later either c6-c5, or e6-e5. White has two replies of about the same strength: 10. Be2 and 10. Bd3.

In the first case, after 10. Be2 Bb7, the two most common continuations are 11. e4 e5 12. dxe5 Nxe5 13. Nd4 Neg4 and 11. Rd1 Qc7 12. e4 e5 13. dxe5 Nxe5 14. Nd4 Neg4, both with immense complications.

If White retreats the Bishop to d3, Black replies the same, i. e. 10… Bb7. Black is again ready to meet 11. e4 with 11… e5. The most popular choice of the players of White is 11. a3, preventing b5-b4, and in some cases planning b2-b4, thus keeping the Bishop on b7 passive. After 11… a5 White switches to the abovementioned plan: 12. e4 e5 13. dxe5 Nxe5 14. Nxe5 Bxe5 15. h3, and again Black is fine after 15… Re8. The alternative is 11… a6, and since he is now ready to play c6-c5, White prevents it with 12. b4. Black’s idea is 12… a5 13. Rb1 axb4 14. axb4 Qe7, pressing the b4-pawn.

[Diagram: White to Move] White Rook on a1 and Bishop on e5 are hanging, and so is the black Queen. In such a complicated position there is a path for White that leads to an almost decisive advantage, can you see it?

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[November 14, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Kasparov-Petrosian Variation with 5… d5 6. cxd5

[Line 210 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Bb7 5. Nc3 d5 6. cxd5]

After the usual introductory moves Black has two moves of approximately the same strength – 6… Nxd5 and 6… exd5.

The first option usually occurs when Black is willing to trade off a pair of the Knights in the early stage of the game. Two of the most frequently played moves are 7. e3 (Line 211) and 7. Qc2 (Line 212), while other viable alternatives are 7. Bd2 and 7. Qa4+. In case of the following pawn sacrifice 7. e4 Nxc3 8. bxc3 Bxe4 9. Ne5 Black gets promising position with 9… Qh4, preventing White’s main idea Qg4.

Against 6… exd5, White usually continues with 7. g3 Be7 followed by either 8. Bg2 or the intermediate check 8. Qa4+, when after 8… c6 with 9. Bg2.

The overall evaluation of this opening line is that Black has several ways of obtaining pleasant positions.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Z. Azmaiparashvili – B. Macieja, Ermioni 2006. Black Knight is under attack and, if protected, White will attack it once more with Bb5. How should Black react?

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[November 13, 2016] Updated Opening Article by Boris Avrukh:
June 2015 Revisited: Réti Opening with 6. Qa4+

Our previous installment of this article featured A. Demuth – W. So, Montpellier 2015 as the line’s key game, where Black had little problems reaching full equality, and the more recent game S. Mareco – Ni Hua, Baku 2015 only confirms our assessment. It didn’t take long and Caruana got the opportunity to try the same line as White: he actually did it twice – against Anand and Topalov. This is an extremely double-edged line, and we believe there is still plenty of room for improvement for both sides.

[Diagram: Black to Move] The diagrammed position comes from an analysis of A. Ramirez – R. Edouard, Arlington 2015. At first glance, it seems that Black has to solve the problems coming from his light square weaknesses. However, white queen’s awkward placement gives Black an opportunity to turn the tables completely…

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[November 12, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Petrosian Variation – Farago Defense (incl. Hedgehog Variation)

[Line 207 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Ba6 5. Qc2]

After directing the white Queen to c2, Black usually goes back with his light-squared Bishop 5… Bb7 (Farago Defense) and then plays c7-c5, making use of the fact that now White can no longer push his pawn to d5. As a consequence, when Black captures with the pawn on d4, a Hedgehog setup arises.

The most common follow up begins with 5… Bb7 6. Nc3 c5 7. e4 cxd4 8. Nxd4. Now in case of 8… Bc5 White gets a small edge after 9. Nb3 Nc6 10. Nxc5 bxc5 11. Be3. Move 8… Nc6 seems to be the best option for Black, and after 9. Nxc6 Bxc6 White’s logical continuation is 10. Bf4 followed by either Rd1 or O-O-O, controling a little bit more space then the opponent. Black often opts for 10… Bc5, then proceeds with O-O, a7-a5 and e7-e5, deploying his pieces on the Black squares.

[Diagram: Black to Move] W. Schmidt – S. Marjanović, Vrnjačka Banja 1983. White has made a typical sacrifice of d-pawn, counting on the e4-b7 pin. Still, there is an oversight in his calcutation that allows Black to obtain a better position!

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[November 11, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Old Sicilian (Miscellaneous)

[Line 422 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 without 3. Bb5, 3. d4]

In addition to 3. d4 (Lines 428-439) and 3. Bb5 (Lines 424-428), move 3. Nc3 is also quite popular.

Black’s common reaction 3… e5 is covered separately in our Line 423. If Black chooses 3… e6 or 3… a6 the game most often transposes to the Paulsen Variation.

After 3… d6, if White continues with 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Black has a viable alternative to 5… Nf6 (Lines 469-476) in 5… e5.

If Black opts for 3… g6, White can transpose to the Accelerated Dragon with 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 or respond with 4. Bc4 or 4. Bb5.

Move 3… Nf6 is the usual preference of the Lasker-Pelikan Variation aficionados, since it invites the most logical transposition: 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4. After 4. Bb5 probably the best option for Black is 4… Qc7 5. O-O Nd4 with mutual chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] H. Walsh – V. Turicnik, corr. 2005. White Knight and Rook are under attack, but if White plays accurately his kingside initiative will guarantee him an advantage.

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[November 10, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Slav Defense – Neo-Meran (Wade Variation with 9. O-O)

[Line 279 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3 Bb7 9. O-O]

The topic of our Line 279 is the Wade Variation of the Neo-Meran with 9. O-O, which is nowadays the main choice of the players of White.

After 9… a6 10. e4 c5 11. d5 occurs a very complicated position, demanding exceptional knowledge from both sides.

The main line is 11… Qc7 12. dxe6 fxe6 13. Bc2. If Black goes for 13… c4 White gets a promising position with 14. Ne2, followed by Ng3 and b2-b3. Therefore, the best option for Black is 13… Bd6 14. Ng5 Nf8 15. f4 where both 15… O-O-O and 15… h6 should lead to dynamically balanced positions.

Black has an interesting sideline in 11… Be7, planing to sacrifice a Knight for two pawns with 12. Bc2 exd5 13. e5 Nxe5 14. Nxe5 d4.

Black also has an alternative on the ninth move (9… b4), but White is there able to obtain a small edge with 10. Na4.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black has a possibility to obtain a significant advantage in the diagrammed position. How should he continue?

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