[November 07, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Blumenfeld Countergambit

[Line 195 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 without 3… b6, 3… d5, 3… Bb4+]

Line 195 covers the alternatives to mainstream openings: 3… d5 (Lines 229-285)3… b6 (Lines 202-228) and 3… Bb4+ (Lines 196-201).

The most popular among them is the Blumenfeld Countergambit, arising after 3… c5 4. d5 b5. White usually accepts the challenge and takes the pawn with 5. dxe6 fxe6 6. cxb5. Move 6… d5 is the most critical option here, though 6… a6 also seems fine. After 6… d5 7. g3 a6 8. bxa6 Be7, followed by O-O and Nc6, Black has sufficient compensation for the sacrificed pawn. Players of White sometimes also opt for 7. e3, 7. Bf4 or 7. Nc3, with the idea e2-e4, but the evaluation stays the same – chances are roughly equal.

Move 5. Bg5 is an interesting possibility for White. Black should continue with 5… exd5 6. cxd5 h6, where he is fine after 7. Bxf6 Qxf6 8. Qc2 Be7.

[Diagram: Black to Move] S. Rodes – S. Dibley, corr. 2009. White is a piece up and looks like his King is protected well enough, thanks to his bishop pair. How can Black boost his attack and get the upper hand?

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[November 06, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Caro-Kann Defense – Panov-Botvinnik Attack

[Line 305 : 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6]

White’s most common choice on 6th move is 6. Nf3, usually followed by Black’s frequent reply with 6… Bb4, though 6… Be7 is also a reasonable alternative.

After 6. Nf3 Bb4 White can try 7. Bd3, though Black gets a promising position with 7… dxc4 8. Bxc4 Qc7.

For that reason, the main debate in the Panov-Botvinnik Attack occurs after 6. Nf3 Bb4 7. cxd5 Nxd5, where White has two moves of about the same strength: 8. Qc2 (covered in Line 306) and 8. Bd2. After the usual 8. Bd2 Nc6 9. Bd3 O-O 10. O-O Be7 appears a position typical for this variation. White has more space, but d4-pawn could become vulnerable. The most popular options for White are 11. Re1, 11. a3 and 11. Qe2, and in any case Black is able to obtain equal chances.

There is also a sideline 6. a3 which we recommend for beginners. White prevents Be7-b4, and plans to continue with Nf3, Bd3 and O-O.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s last move was a mistake 15…h6, allowing White to launch a decisive attack on the weakened position of black King. How can White punish his opponent?

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[November 05, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation – Polugaevsky Variation with 6. Nb3 Be7

[Line 448 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Bc5 6. Nb3 Be7]

White has a couple of ways to obtain a small edge in this opening line.

The most direct approach is 7. Qg4, aiming at the g7-pawn. If Black responds with 7… Nf6, White gets the initiative after 8. Qxg7 Rg8 9. Qh6 Nc6 10. Nc3 Rxg2 11. Qh3 Rg8 12. Bd2, followed by O-O-O. Defending the pawn with 7… Bf6 disturbs the coordination of Black pieces, and the position arising after 8. Qg3 Nc6 9. Nc3 Nge7 10. Bf4 is in White’s favor. The most common reply is 7… g6, where after the Queen retreat (8. Qe2), White is ready to meet Ng8-f6 with Bc1-h6, preventing Black from castling.

The other promising option for White is 7. O-O d6 8. c4 Nf6 9. Nc3, with longterm space advantage.

[Diagram: White to Move] P.H. Nielsen – L. Van Wely, Wolvega 2010. In this double-edged position Nielsen managed to find an unconventional way to launch the attack. How would you continue?

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[November 04, 2018] Updated Opening Article by GM Aleksandar Kovačević:
June 2018 Revisited: Sicilian Najdorf, Grischuk’s Verbeterde List

After four updates, even the sheer length of this article (not to mention its quality) makes it a must-see for all aficionados of the Najdorf Variation.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black is a rook down, but White king is exposed. How can Black make the most of it?

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[November 03, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Petroff Defense, Classical Attack (incl. Marshall, Mason & Staunton Variations)

[Line 354 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4]

After the introductory moves, the game usually continues with 5… d5 6. Bd3, where besides 6… Nc6 and 6… Be7 7. O-O Nc6 covered in Lines 355-357, Black has a popular option in the Marshall Variation (6… Bd6). A big branching of this opening line occurs after 6… Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. c4 c6. White now has a choice between 9. Qc2, 9. Re1, 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. Nc3 and 9. Nc3 Nxc3 10. bxc3.

Variation 9. Qc2 seems to be the most unpleasant for Black since after 9… Na6 10. a3 White is able to gain edge in each of the following lines: 10… Re8 11. Nc3 Bg4 12. Nxe4 dxe4 13. Bxe4 Bxf3 14. Bxf3 Qh4 15. g3 Qxd4 16. Be3, 10… f5 11. Nc3 Nc7 12. b4 and 10… Bg4 11. Ne5 Bf5 12. b4.

Staunton Variation (9. Re1) is another possibility deserving serious attention, though Black is able to get roughly equal chances here with accurate play. For instance, after 9. Re1 Bf5 10. Qb3 Qd7 11. Nc3 Nxc3 12. Bxf5 Qxf5 13. bxc3 b6 Black should hold without difficulties.

White gets better prospects in the Mason Variation (6… Be7 7. O-O O-O) with 8. Re1 Bf5 9. Nbd2

[Diagram: White to Move] I. Nepomniachtchi – Li Chao, Sharjah 2017. Nepomniachtchi came out with a fantastic opening preparation against Li Chao, which gave him an almost decisive advantage out of the opening. What do you think – what did he play in the diagrammed position?

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[November 02, 2018] Updated Opening Line by GM Borki Predojević:
Colle System; Queen’s Gambit Accepted (Mannheim & Showalter Variations)

[Line 080 : 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6]

Line 080 mostly deals with some not particularly ambitious variations, such as 3. Bf4 & 3. Bg5, and other rarely employed sidelines. 3. Bf4 is a very popular “blitz” line even on the highest level, and its most famous aficionados are Kramnik and Kamsky. Apart from his numerous successes with White pieces in this line, Kramnik also lost an important game with Black against Karjakin at the Candidates Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2014.

The main variation in this line is the Queen’s Gambit Accepted (3. c4 dxc4) without 4. e3, most specifically the Showalter Variation with 4. Nc3 and the Mannheim Variation with 4. Qa4+. In our opinion, none of these variations should pose real problems for the players of Black.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s play on the queenside looks threatening, but it’s White’s turn to move and a tactical blow decides the game in his favor.

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