[May 07, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Lasker-Pelikan Variation – Sveshnikov Variation with 11. Bd3

[Line 436 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nd5 f5 11. Bd3]

In this opening line we deal with one of the main lines of the Lasker/Sveshnikov Variation of the Sicilian Defense.

Since White intends to take on f5, Black’s only reasonable move is 11… Be6. White has at his disposal, a popular piece sacrifice 12. c3 Bg7 13. Nxb5 axb5 14. Bxb5 where precise play is necessary from both sides, but Black has fewer good options to choose from.

Another possibility for White is 12. Qh5, aimed against 12… Bxd5. Black usually continues with 12… Rg8, with double-edged positions.

A more positional approach is 12. O-O, and since neither 12… Bg7 nor 12… f4 seem to give Black sufficient counterplay, our recommendation is 12… Bxd5 13. exd5 Ne7. Here, White has tried various moves: 14. c4, 14. Re1 and 14. Nxb5 are some of the more popular choices, but 14. c3 is considered to pose Black the most problems. Nevertheless, after 14… Bg7 15. Qh5 e4 16. Bc2 O-O 17. Rea1 Qc8 Black has reasonably good prospects.

[Diagram: White to Move] T. Lagermann – F. Fritsche, corr. 2002. Black has just taken the ‘poisoned’ pawn on a2. His Queen can hardly be captured, but White can create unexpected threats to his opponent’s King, which should give him a decisive attack. How should White proceed?

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[May 06, 2018] Dusted Off: Opening Survey by GM Aleksandar Kovačević
December 2014 Revisited: French Defense, Advance Variation with 6. a3 a5

This update brings a number of improvements on the lines from the original article, which makes it a must-read for the Advance French aficionados. For instance, make sure to check out how several versions of Komodo completely dismantled a seemingly rock-solid variation from H. Nakamura – I. Nepomniachtchi, Internet (blitz) 2007.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position is the introduction to the grand finale of the important improvement featured in this update. Black is ready to eliminate the pesky knight, which would make his life much easier, but it’s White’s turn to play. How would you proceed?

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[May 05, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Caro-Kann Defense, Classical Variation (incl. Flohr Variation)

[Line 310 : 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5]

After the main choice 5. Ng3 Bg6, move 6. h4 is covered in our Lines 311-314, while here you can find various sidelines, like the quiet 6. Nf3, more ambitious 6. Bc4 (with the idea Ng1-e2-f4), and, as our main line – the Flohr Variation (6. Nh3). The game usually continues 6. Nh3 Nf6 7. Nf4 and now, depending on one’s taste, Black plays either 7… Nbd7 (followed by Qc7, e6 and Bd6), or 7… e5, often leading to simplifications.

Besides 5. Ng3, White has another interesting possibility at his disposal- 5. Nc5, which we recommend to club level players. Black can react with 5… b6, slightly weakening his queenside, or with a temporary pawn sacrifice. There are basically two ways to sacrifice the pawn: either with 5… Nd7 6. Nxb7 Qc7 7. Nc5 Nxc5 8. dxc5 e5, or with 5… e5 6. Nxb7 Qb6 7. Nc5 exd4 – either way, the arising position are about equal.

[Diagram: White to Move] R. Mamedov – V. Anand, Baku (rapid) 2009. In the diagrammed position from a rapid game, Anand missed his opponent’s next move, which caused him great difficulties. How did Mamedov make use of his great opponent’s inaccurate opening play?

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[May 04, 2018] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Four Knights Variation – Kingside Fianchetto with 4… Bb4

[Line 017 : 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 Bb4]

Kingside Fianchetto with 4… Bb4 in the Four Knights Variation was the battlefield of many games of two memorable duels – between Karpov and Kortchnoi in the ’70s and between Karpov and Kasparov in the ’80s.

Beside the main 5. Bg2, White has at his disposal another move of equivalent strength – 5. Nd5, where Black has a choice of his own among the following: 5… Bc5, 5… e4, 5… Be7 and 5… a5.

After 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O Black has three notable options: 6… d6, 6… Bxc3 and 6… e4.

Against the solid 6… d6 White usually continues with 7. d3 or 7. Nd5. In the line 6… e4 7. Ng5 Bxc3 8. bxc3 Re8 9. f3 e3 there is typically a very tense struggle, while after 6… Bxc3 7. bxc3 Re8 8. d3 e4 9. Nd4 exd3 10. exd3 Nxd4 11. cxd4 d5 occurs an original position, where White has a bishop pair, and Black relies on his slightly better pawn structure.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has sacrificed a Knight and has a promising attack. If he continues with 16. Qh5, Black has a strong response in 16… Qg4. How can White neutralize his opponent’s plan and complete a decisive maneuver?

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[May 03, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Catalan Defense, Closed Variation – Main Line with 8. Bf4 Nbd7 9. Qc2

[Line 233 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O c6 8. Bf4 Nbd7 9. Qc2]

For those aiming to avoid theoretical discussions with Black pieces, we recommend 9… a5 10. Rd1 b5, hoping to seize some space on the queenside.

Black can also opt for a rather common plan with 9… Nh5 10. Bc1 Nhf6, followed by b7-b6 and Bb7, which typically gives Black a very sound position.

Another sideline is 9… Ne4, which is often followed by g7-g5 and f7-f5. Though White’s chances are slightly preferable, in our opinion Black has sufficient counterplay.

The main continuation is 9… b6 10. Rd1 Bb7, and here White has many possibilities. The usual continuation is 11. Ne5 Nh5 12. Bd2 Nhf6 13. cxd5 cxd5 14. Nc6 Bxc6 15. Qxc6 Rc8, but 11. Nc3 dxc4 12. Nd2 Nd5 13. Nxc4 Nxf4 14. gxf4 Qc7 is also perfectly playable. In both cases Black should equalize without difficulties.

[Diagram: Black to Move] C. Bauer – V. Ivanchuk, Cap d’Adge (rapid) 2012. Ivanchuk had no problems finding the surprising move, which immediately led to winning some material. Can you see what Black played in the diagrammed position?

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[May 02, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
King’s Indian Defense, Orthodox Variation with 6… e5 7. O-O Nbd7

[Line 163 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nbd7]

The old line of the Orthodox Variation of KID (7… Nbd7) is not frequently seen in modern grandmaster games, but its flexibility makes it a good weapon for players who want to avoid heavily explored lines.

There are three dominant replies – 8. Re1, 8. Qc2 and 8. Be3, where the last one probably promises the best chances if White wants to ambitiously fight for opening advantage.

Against 8. Be3 we recommend either 8… Qe7 or 8… c6 to club level players, whereas the advanced ones will probably feel more comfortable with 8… Re8. White generally has better chances, but Black also has his trumps in practical play.

[Diagram: Black to Move] In double-edged positions attacking the opponent’s King is typically more important than the material count. Having that in mind, how can Black get a dangerous attack in the diagrammed position?

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