[July 03, 2018] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Four Knights Variation – Romanishin & Stean Variations

[Line 013 : 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e3]

By choosing 4. e3 against the Four Knights Variation of the English Opening, White supports the d4-square with his e-pawn and later indends to play d2-d4.

Depending on the taste, Black usually opts for one of the following: 4… Bb4, 4… Be7, 4… d6 or 4… d5.

Variation 4… Bb4 is aimed against White’s d2-d4 advance, and after 5. Qc2 the two most frequent continuations from Black are the Romanishin Variation (5… Bxc3) and 5… O-O 6. Nd5 Re8, where 7. Qf5 is the initial position of the Stean Variation.

Move 4… Be7 leads to less demanding positions, and two common follow-ups are 5. a3 O-O 6. Qc2 d5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 and 5. d4 exd4 6. Nxd4 O-O.

Line 4… d6 5. d4 g6 offers White an immediate opportunity to enter the endgame with 6. dxe5 Nxe5 7. Nxe5 dxe5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8, where Black ought to get equal chances without much effort.

Reversed Paulsen Variation of the Sicilian Defense, occuring after 4… d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5, is typically very sensitive for Black since it requires his full attention.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White’s last move was a defensive one: Rd1-d4 brings the Rook to an active role in protection against Black’s strong attack. Still, Black has a powerful response, which should secure him a big advantage!

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[August 02, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Slav Defense – Neo-Meran (Wade Variation with 9. O-O)

[Line 279 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3 Bb7 9. O-O]

The topic of our Line 279 is the Wade Variation of the Neo-Meran with 9. O-O, which is nowadays the main choice of the players of White.

After 9… a6 10. e4 c5 11. d5 occurs a very complicated position, demanding exceptional knowledge from both sides.

The main line is 11… Qc7 12. dxe6 fxe6 13. Bc2. If Black goes for 13… c4 White gets a promising position with 14. Ne2, followed by Ng3 and b2-b3. Therefore, the best option for Black is 13… Bd6 14. Ng5 Nf8 15. f4 where both 15… O-O-O and 15… h6 should lead to dynamically balanced positions.

Black has an interesting sideline in 11… Be7, planing to sacrifice a Knight for two pawns with 12. Bc2 exd5 13. e5 Nxe5 14. Nxe5 d4.

Black also has an alternative on the ninth move (9… b4), but White is there able to obtain a small edge with 10. Na4.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black has a possibility to obtain a significant advantage in the diagrammed position. How should he continue?

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[August 01, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation – Taimanov-Bastrikov Variation without 6. Nxc6 (incl. Taimanov Variation)

[Line 451 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 a6 without 6. Nxc6]

Apart from the 6. Nxc6 (Line 452) players of White have tried numerous possibilities, most notably 6. Be3, 6. g3, 6. Be2 and 6. Bf4.

After 6. Be3 move 6… Qc7 transposes to our Line 455, and against the alternative 6… Nf6 White usually choses one of the following: 7. f4, 7. Qd2 or 7. Bd3.

King’s fianchetto 6. g3 is an option popular among positionally-minded players, where the game often continues 6… d6 7. Bg2 Bd7 8. O-O Nf6 9. a4 Be7.

In case of the 6. Be2 Black’s best reaction is to transpose either to the Scheveningen Variation with 6… d6 7. O-O Nf6, or to one of the main variations of our Line 454 with 6… Qc7.

The idea of the 6. Bf4 is trying to exploit the weakness of the d6 square. After 6… d6 (threatening Nxd4 and e6-e5) 7. Nxc6 bxc6 8. Qd2 occurs an interesting, and not too examined position, which might be suitable for the beginners.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Karpov – M. Taimanov, Moscow 1983. Black’s last move was Nc6-b4, disturbing the white Queen. What is the best place to move the Queen to?

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[July 31, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Vadim Zvjaginsev:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Kasparov Variation (incl. Botvinnik Variation)

[Line 203 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. Nc3 without 4… Bb4]

Initial position of the Line 203 is known as the Kasparov Variation of the Queen’s Indian Defense.

Apart from 4… Bb4, covered in our Lines 204-205, Black’s alternative way to stop e2-e4 is 4… Bb7. When White proceeds following the same idea with 5. Bg5 after 5… h6 6. Bh4 g5 7. Bg3 Nh5 occurs the Botvinnik Variation.

More popular continuation is 5… h6 6. Bh4 Be7. If White now opts for 7. Qc2, his opponent obtains equal chances with 7… c5, since White is unable to seize the space with d4-d5. On the other hand, after 7. e3 O-O 8. Be2 or 7. e3 O-O 8. Bd3 Black has no problems if he reacts either with c7-c5 or d7-d5.

Among other options on move five, White has at his disposal 5. a3 (transposing to Line 208), 5. e3 (Line 202) and 5. g3 Bb4 6. Bd2

[Diagram: White to Move] White pawn on c7 does look threatening, but how can he make something concrete out of it?

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[July 30, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
King’s Indian Defense, Aronin-Taimanov/Mar del Plata Defense – Normal Variation

[Line 167 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. Ne1]

Mar del Plata Defense of the King’s Indian Defense could be characterized as an evergreen – it became popular quickly after Gligoric had introduced the idea, and has ever since remained one of the most beloved variation among the KID aficionados. Among the top-tier players Nakamura frequently employs this line, and his games, like the recent W. So – H. Nakamura, Saint Louis 2015 show that this variation is very much alive.

After 9… Nd7 White has a choice among the next three plans: 10. Be3 f5 11. f3 f4 12. Bf2 with later Rc1 or Nd3 and c4-c5 is very much straightforward; 10. Nd3 f5 11. Bd2 is aimed against an early f5-f4; 10. f3 f5 11. g4 secures extra space for white pieces on the kingside and makes Black’s topical plan harder to conduct.

Move 9… Ne8 is more passive than the aforementioned alternative, since it allows a much quicker c4-c5 advance, like in the following line: 10. Be3 f5 11. f3 f4 12. Bf2 h5 13. c5.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position is somewhat typical for the Mar Del Plata Defense: White exerts pressure on the queenside, while Black launches the attack on the opposite side, and even has a clear threat of a checkmate in one. White’s a bit unusual reaction secures his King, and gives him a clear edge!

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[July 29, 2018] Updated Opening Article by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
February 2016 Revisited: The King’s Indian Defense, Petrosian Variation

The Petrosian Variation of the King’s Indian Defense has that evergreen feel that never seems to lose its appeal among chess players of all strength levels. GM Brenjo had originally decided to explore some fashionable lines in this opening using E. Tomashevsky – T. Radjabov, Tbilisi 2015 as the key game, but new developments kept appearing on regular basis, so it was as good time as any to update this opening survey once again. In our opinion, this batch of correspondence games has significant theoretical importance for this opening line, so we believe that you’ll find them worthy of detailed examination.

[Black to play] Can you find our recommended improvement on A. Goganov – Iv. Šarić, Gjakova 2016 that solves all Black’s problems in the diagrammed position?

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