[January 19, 2018] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Old Sicilian – Accelerated Dragon

[Line 430 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 without 5. c4]

The Maroczy Bind is covered in Lines 431-433, while Line 430 mostly deals with another important alternative for White – the Accelerated Dragon (5. Nc3).

The play here usually continues 5… Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Bc4 O-O 8. Bb3, where Black has several interesting possibilities at his disposal.

One of them is a modern gambit (8… d5!? 9. exd5 Na5) that was recently tried in S. Karjakin – D. Dubov, Doha 2015. It leads to some forced lines with positions that are good enough for Black, so it deserves serious consideration as an opening surprise.

The main line for Black is the quiet 8… d6 9. h3 Bd7 10. O-O Qa5, where White’s spatial advantage typically gives him a slight pull.

For advanced players we thus recommend the ambitious 8… a5, where the game can become quite unbalanced after 9. O-O a4 10. Nxa4 Nxe4 11. Nb5 Ra6, with mutual chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position is somewhat typical for the Sicilian Dragon: both sides are rushing with their flank attacks, but White is visibly quicker. What is the best way to proceed here?

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[January 18, 2018] Updated Opening Line from GM Dragan Paunović:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Classical Variation (incl. Tiviakov Defense)

[Line 217 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3]

Line 217 deals with Black’s various 7th move reactions, including the Tiviakov Defense (7… Na6), where White typically gets slightly preferable positions.

The other reaction (7… d5) usually (i. e. after 8. cxd5 exd5) transposes to a variation covered in Line 216 (though reached via a different move order).

By far the most popular and also the main line is 7… Ne4, with the idea to trade a pair of knights. Apart from 8. Bd2 (covered in our Line 218), White has two more choices that seem quite playable: to simplify the position with 8. Nxe4, or to play the more ambitious 8. Qc2. In either case, Black has reasonable chances to equalize.

[Diagram: White to Move] In the pre-computer days it was possible to win quite a few games using the same well-disguised opening trick, which can hardly happen today. About forty years ago, IM L. Neckár tricked (at least) three good players in the diagrammed position, playing as White. What did he play?

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[January 17, 2018] Updated Opening Line from GM Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Two Knights Variation – Fianchetto Lines

[Line 036 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 without 3. d4, 3. Nc3]

Since 3. Nc3 is covered in our Line 037 and 3. d4 transposes to King’s Knight Variation, Line 036 mostly deals with the Fianchetto Lines, starting with 3. g3.

On many occasions, if White plays d2-d4, Line 036 can transpose to the King’s Indian or the Grünfeld Defense. Otherwise, White usually opts for d2-d3, followed by Rb1 and the b2-b4 advance. In the English Opening black knight is already on c6 (which is covered in our Lines 007-008), but here Black can at some point push his pawn to c6, which typically leads to very flexible set-ups.

[Diagram: White to Move] This preview brings a position from W. Spoelman – A. Giri, Eindhoven 2010. White missed a way to get a strong initiative. Can you do better?

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[January 16, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Closed Defense with 6. d3 b5

[Line 392 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5]

Move 6… b5 is one of the common ways to respond to White’s threat of Bxc6 and Nxe5 in the Ruy Lopez. Black keeps some extra options open like transferring the Bishop from e7 to c5, and forces the Bishop to move to b3: 7. Bb3. There are three possible continuations for Black here: 7… d6, 7… O-O and 7… Bb7 (transposing to Line 386).

By playing 7… d6, Black intends to trade his Knight for the powerful Bishop on b3 with Na5xb3. The main response from White is 8. a4, where both 8… Bd7 and 8… b4 are well-examined and lead to balanced positions.

8. a3 is an alternative way to oppose Black’s plan that has recently gained in popularity. White often continues with Nc3, Be3 and, if allowed, with d3-d4, too. Black has a couple of ways to reach equality, most notably 8… Na5 9. Ba2 c5 and 8… O-O 9. Nc3 Bg4 10. Be3 Nd4.

In case of 7… O-O 8. a4 b4 9. Nbd2 Black is able to obtain good prospects with the active 9… Bc5, which is frequently followed by d7-d6, Rb8 and Be6.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black King, after capturing a sacrificed piece, bravely stepped deep into White’s camp. How should White continue to punish his opponent’s hazardous play?

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[January 15, 2018] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Classical Scheveningen – Maroczy Variation with 7. O-O

[Line 485 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e6 7. O-O]

Maroczy or the Classical Scheveningen Variation is nowadays seen at the top level, as much as when it was re-introduced among the elite by Kasparov in mid 1980’s. The Najdorf move order is the most common way to enter the Scheveningen set-up, transposition from the Paulsen is another popular option, whereas 6… e6 is ususally avoided because of White’s preferable chances in the Keres Attack.

Line 485 focuses on lines without a2-a4, which allows Black’s queenside activity with b7-b5. White most often relies on the Qe1-g3 maneuver, and a tensed strategic battle typically occurs.

From the recent developments we would recommend 17. a4, as seen e. g. in A. Giri – Hou Yifan, Biel 2014, which caused some problems that Black had difficulties dealing with. However, Black has another possibility in 15… Bc6, like e. g. in K. Dragun – B. Grachev, Moscow 2016.

[Diagram: White to Move] The grand finale from the spectacular Wei Yi – L. Bruzon Batista, Danzhou 2015. White to play and win!

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[January 14, 2018] Updated Opening Article by GM Dragan Paunović:
September 2016 Revisited: English Opening, Bremen System with 7. Nf3

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

After Giri successfully employed this line in A. Giri – V. Anand, Bilbao 2015, it was only a matter of time before this line returned to the spotlight. After a number of top level games, the most recent theoretically important additions were Matlakov’s (currently playing in Wijk aan Zee Tata Steel 2018, in his maiden appearance in Group A) two blitz wins against strong opposition.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has to find a way to keep his initiative alive before Black completes his development. How should he proceed?

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