[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 12, 2017] Trusted: Opening Survey by GM Aleksandar Kovačević
Catalan Defense, Closed Variation with 7… b6 (12. Rd1)

Nakamura’s three-peat at the Gibraltar Tradewise Open was nothing short of impressive, so examining his weapon of choice in the decisive game of the first leg of the play-offs seems quite logical. In addition to two high-profile grandmaster games – R. Kasimdzhanov – A. Kovalyov, Baku 2015 and M. Rodshtein – A. Franco Alonso, Linares 2014, our examination of this variation will also include a number of theoretically important engine games, which will surely broaden our understanding of this rather fashionable line.

[Diagram: Black to Move] H. Nakamura – Yu Yangyi, Caleta (rapid, m/3) 2017. Moves like Nd6 or Ne3 typically annoy Black, so he has to act quickly before his opponent’s pressure becomes unpleasant. Any ideas?

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[February 10, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Anti-Moscow Gambit

[Line 270 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. Bg5 h6 without 6. Bxf6]

In this line White has a choice on 6th move between two very different types of position: the quiet Moscow Variation 6. Bxf6 (Lines 272-273), and the very sharp Anti-Moscow Gambit 6. Bh4. In the latter case, the game usually continues with 6. Bh4 dxc4 7. e4, where 7… b5 8. e5 transposes to the main line of the Botvinnik Variation, though nowadays players of Black usually prefer 7… g5 8. Bg3 b5. Though White has a couple of possibilities here, move 9. Ne5 is an alternative of equivalent strength to the main 9. Be2.

As the response to 9. Be2, Black frequently opts for 9… Bb7, while 9… b4 10. Na4 Nxe4 and 9… Bg7 are also viable. In fact, position arising after 6. Bh4 g5 7. Bg3 dxc4 8. e4 b5 9. Be2 Bb7 is a modern chess opening tabiya, where 10. O-O and 10. h4 are covered in our Line 271. Other well-investigated options are 10. Ne5, 10. e5 and 10. Qc2, and they are the point of interest of this opening line.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s vulnerable King and poor Queen placement allow White to launch a decisive attack, starting with a nice tactical blow!

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