[March 31, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Caro-Kann Defense, Advance Variation – Short Variation with 5… c5

[Line 320 : 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 c5]

Positions covered in Line 320 are, in most cases, very sharp and demand accurate knowledge, especially from the players of Black.

The main choice of White is 6. Be3, where the following moves: 6… Ne7, 6… cxd4, 6… Qb6 and 6… Nd7, are well-investigated.

Move 6… Ne7 is probably the best option for Black. After 7. dxc5 Nd7 8. Nd4 Bg6 9. O-O Nxc5 Black has sufficient resources to obtain roughly equal positions.

In case of 6… cxd4, White gets a preferable position with 7. Nxd4 Ne7 8. O-O Nbc6 9. Bb5.

Active 6… Qb6 leads to some crazy complications after 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. O-O Qxb2 9. Qe1 that are generally in White’s favor.

Also, 6… Nd7 is not sufficient for Black to equalize, since White has a lasting initiative after 7. O-O Ne7 8. Nbd2 cxd4 9. Nxd4 Nxe5 10. c4.

Variation 6. O-O Nc6 7. c3 is an interesting, yet not too ambitious sideline for White.

[Diagram: White to Move] M. Bartel – M. Rodshtein, Moscow 2009. White has a chance to obtain a huge advantage, due to better development and active Rooks. What is the best reaction for White in the diagrammed position?

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[March 30, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined – Exchange Variation; Catalan Opening

[Line 265 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 without 5. Bg5, 5. e3]

Two main moves from the initial position of our Line 265 are 5. e3 (Lines 274-285) and 5. Bg5 (Lines 266-273), and we deal here with other various possibilities.

Exchange Variation (5. cxd5) is probably the most suitable for beginners. After the usual 5… exd5 6. Bg5 White’s plan often includes Qc2, e2-e3, Bd3 and O-O.

Move 5. g3 leads to the gambit variation of the Catalan Opening and is more suitable for advanced players. The principal reaction is 5… dxc4 and after 6. Bg2 one option is 6… Nbd7 7. O-O with either 7… b5 or 7… Be7, and the other option is 6… b5 7. Ne5 Nd5, in any case with roughly equal positions.

From other choices of White defending the c4-pawn with either 5. Qd3 or 5. Qb3 typically leads to quiet positions.

[Diagram: White to Move] B. Gelfand – A. Shirov, Paris (rapid) 1992. White pieces are exerting activity on the kingside, while Black has created some counterplay on the opposite side of the board. However, White is faster and can get a big advantage with active play. How should he proceed?

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[March 28, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Gruenfeld Defense, Exchange Variation (Classical Main Line)

[Line 144 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4]

After the introductory moves of our Line 144, the game usually continues with 7… c5 8. Ne2 Nc6 9. Be3. Now, Black has at his disposal a sideline 9… cxd4 10. cxd4 b5!? that should give him a satisfying position. By far the main option is 9… O-O, where after 10. O-O Black has several viable choices. Line 145 is dedicated to 10… Bg4 and 10… Qc7, while 10… Na5, 10… Bd7 and 10… b6 are also frequently seen in top level games.

The position arising after 10… Na5 11. Bd3 b6 is highly complicated and well-investigated, so it demands a considerable knowledge of many nuances.

Variations 10… Bd7 11. Rb1 Qc7 and 10… b6 are a bit less forced, though equally complex.

[Diagram: Black to Move] A. Timofeev – I. Kurnosov, Khanty Mansiysk (m/1) 2012. Black has tactical means to make something concrete out of the pressure on the d4-pawn. Can you see how he can win some material?

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[March 27, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation – Amsterdam Variation

[Line 479 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f4]

The Amsterdam Variation has lost a lot in popularity in the recent years, since Black has found a couple of ways to get good prospects.

Move 6… e5 is considered to be the main line. After 7. Nf3 Nbd7 8. a4 Be7 players of White generally choose between 9. Bd3 and 9. Bc4.

Another reputable option for Black is 6… Qc7, and is often connected with a kingside fianchetto. For example 7. Bd3 g6 8. O-O Bg7 9. Nf3 Nbd7, and the position is about equal.

Black can also start immediately with 6… g6, with the idea to respond to 7. Nf3 with 7… Nc6.

There is also nothing wrong with 6… Nbd7, followed by either g7-g6 and Bg7, or e7-e5.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has better piece development, while black dark-squared Bishop is unprotected. This gives White tactical motifs leading to strong initiative!

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[March 26, 2017] Trusted: Opening Survey by GM Dragan Paunović:
October 2014 Revisited: Neo-Gruenfeld Defense, 17. Ka1!?

This update is a small tribute to our late colleague GM Dragan Paunović. In memory of our dear friend, our Editorial Board will keep updating his lines and articles.

This reasonably popular line has a steady influx of important games, so it was high time to update it with new developments. While D. Naroditsky – V. Fedoseev, Doha 2015 appears to be the best play for both sides, there are many more theoretically relevant games. Our diagrammed position comes from another key game – T. Sanikidze – D. Wagner, Drancy 2016, where we offer an improvement on Black’s original play from the stem game.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black pieces seem rather uncoordinated, and White’s d6-pawn is a big asset. How can Black create sufficient counterplay that leads to roughly equal positions, before it becomes too late?

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[March 25, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Kasparov-Petrosian Variation (incl. Murey Variation)

[Line 212 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Bb7 5. Nc3 d5 6. cxd5 Nxd5 7. Qc2]

Move 7… c5 transposes to Line 208, while after 7… Be7 White has, apart from 8. e4 Nxc3 9. bxc3, another popular possibility in 8. Bd2 (Line 210).

The most frequently played option is 7… Nxc3, where 8. Qxc3 is a line more suitable for club level players.

White gets a strong pawn center in the Murey Variation (8. bxc3), where Black’s usual plan is to exert pressure along d- and c-files with c7-c5, Qc7(8), Nd7(c6) and Rd8. An illustrative continuation could be 8… Be7 9. e4 O-O 10. Bd3 c5 11. O-O Qc7 12. Qe2. Here both 12… Nd7 and 12… Nc6 lead to positions with roughly equal chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] It looks like Black has just enough counterplay on the queenside. However, White can still obtain a big edge and launch a strong attack on the poorly-protected black King. Any thoughts?

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