[May 04, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation with 6. Bg5 (incl. Polugaevsky Variation)

[Line 481 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5]

In the initial position of the Line 481 Black usually opts for 6… e6. Our recommendation for beginners is 7. Qf3, with mild complications. After the main move 7. f4 a big branching in the Najdorf occurs. Variation 7… Qb6 is covered in Line 483, while 7…Nbd7 and 7… Be7 belong to our Line 482.

From other options, the Polugaevsky Variation (7… b5), as well as 7… Nc6, can hardly be recommended for Black, since in both cases White gets strong initiative with accurate play. Against 7… Bd7 White gets better prospects with 8. Qe2, followed by castling long. After 7… Qc7 White obtains a stable edge with 8. Bxf6 gxf6 9. Qf3 b5 10. a3.

The main variation goes 7… h6 8. Bh4 Qb6, where aside from a pawn sacrifice with 9. Qd2, White has another interesting possibility in 9. a3 (indirectly defending the b-pawn), and after 9… Be7, move 10. Bf2 poses some problems to Black.

[Diagram: White to Move] H. Daurelle – C. Ozenne, France 2011. Black is two pawns up and threatens capturing with his Knight on g2, with a check. Yet, it is White’s move and he can get a decisive attack! What is the best way to proceed?

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[May 03, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Normal Variation – Rubinstein Variation (Blackburne Defense with 6. Bg5)

[Line 334 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Nf3 Ngf6 6. Bg5]

The main choice of the players of Black here is 6… h6, where after 7. Nxf6+ Nxf6, White usually opts for one of the three following possibilities: 8. Bh4 (covered in Line 335), 8. Be3 and 8. Bxf6.

Black has tried a couple of options against 8. Be3, and apart from 8… Nd5, he is also able to obtain roughly equal chances with 8… Bd6.

Move 8. Bxf6 is more suitable for club level players, since it is easier to grasp. Though 8… gxf6 is quite fine, 8… Qxf6 is more to the point. White gets a small space advantage after 9. Bb5+ c6 10. Bd3 Bd7, but Black’s powerful dark-squared Bishop compensates for it.

Black has another interesting option in 6… Be7 7. Nxf6+ Bxf6. Position arising after 8. h4 c5 9. Qd2 cxd4 10. O-O-O is easier to handle with white pieces, but Black should equalize with a few accuracies.

[Diagram: White to Move] V. Topalov – E. Bareev, Monte Carlo (rapid) 2002. White Bishop and Knight are very active, and the Rooks are ready to exert the pressure on the poorly protected black King. That being said, how can White gain a strong attack?

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[May 02, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Open Slav Defense, Krause Attack with 6… Nbd7

[Line 110 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Ne5 Nbd7]

The most frequently played reply to 7. Nxc4 is 7… Qc7, and it is covered in our Line 111. The main alternative 7… Nb6 has gained in popularity in the recent years.

The simplest way for White to proceed is 8. e3, where Black equalizes with 8… e6 9. Qb3 Be7.

The other interesting option 8. Ne3, and it should also be fine for Black, for example: 8… Bg6 9. a5 Nbd5 10. Nexd5 Nxd5 11. Qb3 e6.

The players of White wanting to fight for the initiative should opt for 8. Ne5, where Black’s best response is 8… a5. Now, there are several possibilities for White: move 9. f3 is the principal choice, while Black also faces some difficulties after 9. g3, 9. e3, 9. Bg5, and even after the less than ordinary 9. h4.

[Diagram: White to Move] R. Boehm – D. Floren, corr. 2010. Black threatens Nb3, while he also wants to occupy the d-file with his Rook. What is the best way for White to parry his opponent’s intentions, and gain a big advantage?

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[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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[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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[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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