[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?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[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?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[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!

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[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?

Click here to see the updated article in our viewer.


[January 13, 2018] Updated Opening Line from GM Dragan Paunović:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Fianchetto System (incl. Riumin & Yates Variations)

[Line 213 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 without 4… Bb7, 4… Ba6]

The Fianchetto System in the Queen Indian’s Defense can be treated with black pieces in many different ways. Apart from the most popular 4… Ba6 (Lines 219-228), and its main alternative 4… Bb7 (Lines 214-218), Black also has an interesting check 4… Bb4+. Covering the check by interposing with Nbd2 transposes to positions covered in other lines: 5. Nbd2 Ba6 leads to Line 222, while 5. Nbd2 Bb7 6. Bg2 transposes to Line 214.

5. Bd2 is consequently the main focus of Line 213, where Black has a few promising possibilities:

5… c5 often leaves Black with doubled b-pawns, though it’s not easy for White to make any concrete use of that fact; the Riumin Variation (5… Be7) keeps the tension on the board, while exchanging the bishops with 5… Bxd2+ typically leads to quiet positions, and the Yates Variation (5… a5) should leave White with a slight advantage after 6. Bg2 Bb7 7. O-O O-O 8. Bf4.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black pieces lack coordination, which his opponent can use to launch a strong attack. How should White proceed?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[January 12, 2018] Updated Opening Line by GM Boris Avrukh:
King’s Indian Defense, Glek Defense without 8. Be3

[Line 164 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Na6 without 8. Be3]

The Glek Defense is a positional approach to the Orthodox Variation of the King’s Indian Defense. As opposed to the Mar del Plata Defense, Black is not trying to provoke d4-d5 (which typically leads to double-edged positions), but develops his Knight on a6 instead, thus opting to keep the tension in the center.

Line 164 covers all White’s 8th move responses, other than 8. Be3, which is covered in our Line 165.

If White plays early d4-d5, Black will have a good outpost for his Knight on c5. Apart form 8. Be3, White usually plays 8. Re1, where Black has two good options – he can either capture on d4 (followed by Nc5: 8… exd4 9. Nxd4 Qxd4 10. f3 Nh5!), or keep the tension in the center by playing 8… c6.

[Diagram: Black to Move] This one is easy, but cute – Black to play and win!

Click here to see the line in our viewer…