[January 11, 2018] Updated Opening Line by GM Trajko Nedev:
Caro-Kann Defense, Classical Variation – Main Line (Seirawan Variation with 11. Bf4)

[Line 314 : 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bf4]

Though Classical Variation of the Caro-Kann Defense has passed the baton of popularity to the Advance Variation, it still has a decent number of its proponents. It typically leads to quiet positions with slight spatial advantage for White, but Black’s usually has no discernible weaknesses in his camp.

The main 11. Bf4 is certainly the most critical line in the Classical Variation, and the modern response 11… Qa5+ 12. Bd2 Bb4  is the most popular way to fight it nowadays. White usually goes for 13. c3 Be7 14. c4, where 14… Qc7 15. O-O-O Ngf6 should leave Black with a sufficient counterplay.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Van Beek – J. Speelman, Gibraltar 2007. Black’s poorly protected King simply calls for some sacrifice from White. Agreed, but what should he sacrifice, and – most importantly – where?

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2016-04-26 - Update Line 120[January 10, 2018] Updated Opening Line by GM Aleksandar Kovačević:
Modern Benoni, Classical Variation

[Line 120 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e6 4. Nc3 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nf3 g6 7. e4]

Line 120 covers the main line of the Classical Variation of Modern Benoni.

A highly investigated sharp line occurs after 7… Bg7 8. h3 O-O 9. Bd3 b5. White now has two main options: the first is 10. Bxb5, and after the forced 10… Nxe4 11. Nxe4 Qa5+ 12. Nfd2 Qxb5 13. Nd6 Qa6 Black has sufficient compensation; the second is 10. Nxb5, where after 10… Re8 11. O-O Nxe4 12. Re1 a6! Black should be doing fine, too.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black has sacrificed a piece, but he is ready to recapture it. How should White proceed?

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[December 30, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Borki Predojević:
Slav Defense, Chebanenko Variation with 5. c5 Nbd7

[Line 101 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 a6 5. c5 Nbd7]

Line 101 deals with one of the main lines in the Chebanenko Variation. Black’s play is usually focused on the e7-e5 advance, with or without the kingside fianchetto. 6. Bf4 is the most frequent way for counter Black’s thematic plan, which is usually met with 6… Nh5, trying to kick away the annoying Bishop. The main line follows with 7. Bd2 Nhf6 8. Qc2 g6 9. g3, where Black has a choice between 9… Bg7 and 9… e5. In our opinion, both options lead to satisfactory positions for Black.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White’s pawns are scattered and Black has a bishop pair, but his knight is under attack. How can Black gain a lasting advantage? 

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[December 29, 2017] Updated Opening Line from GM Dragan Paunović:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Classical Variation with 7… Ne4 8. Bd2

[Line 218 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 Ne4 8. Bd2]

Line 218 covers the main line of the Classical Variation of the Queen’s Indian Defense. In our opinion, Black has several ways to reach satisfactory positions.

For club level players we recommend either 8… c5 or 8… d6. 8… f5 generally leads to more complex positions, though Black should be able to equalize with a few accurate moves.

The main line is 8… Bf6, followed by d7-d6 and Nd7. White can fight against that plan with 9. Ne5, for instance like in a recent game B. Grachev – D. Khismatullin, Kazan 2014, where Black experienced some problems reaching equality.

[Diagram: Black to Move] It looks like Black is in big problems, but there is a way to escape all the difficulties. What should he do?

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[December 28, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
English Opening, Symmetrical Variation (Geller)

[Line 034 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 e6 4. d4 without 4… d5]

The Geller Variation in the English Opening, which occurs after 4… cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nc6 6. g3 Qb6, has been frequently employed among the top level players in recent years.

Besides the classical 7. Nb3, there is also a modern option beginning with 7. Ndb5, where those who want to avoid critical theoretical lines can also choose a decent sideline (7… d5), with good chances for equality. For the well-prepared and ambitious we suggest 7… Ne5, when White gets to choose between two sharp choices: 8. Bf4 Nfg4 9. Qa4, like in the following recent games: V. Topalov – F. Caruana, Moscow 2016, or H. Nakamura – S. Karjakin, Zurich 2015, where Karjakin quickly lost because he forgot a forced line that ends in perpetual check.

The other popular choice against 7… Ne5 is 8. Bg2, which typically leads to equally demanding theoretical lines.

[Diagram: White to Move] This preview brings a powerful idea introduced by Kramnik in his game against Anand from the Monte Carlo (rapid) in 1994. How can White gain a lasting initiative in the diagrammed position?

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[December 27, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Morphy Defense – Anderssen Variation (incl. Duras Variation)

[Line 385 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. d3]

The Anderssen Variation, starting with 5. d3, is quite a popular way to avoid many heavily explored variations of the Ruy Lopez. White mostly settles for equal positions, but doesn’t have to worry about more complex lines, such as the Open Variation, Marshall Attack or Closed Defense.

Black has more than one way to get satisfactory positions. He can make use of the fact that he still hasn’t develop black squared Bishop, and play 5… d6 followed by a kingside fianchetto, like in our main line: 5… d6 6. c3 g6 7. O-O Bg7 8. Nbd2 O-O.

The Duras Variation (5… d6 6. c4), later often followed by Bxc6, is a sideline that typically leads to a quiet game.

The other promising line for Black is 5… b5 6. Bb3 Bc5, where if White doesn’t want to transpose to some other lines, he can also try 7. Nc3 d6 8. Nd5, though after 8… h6 Black should be fine.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White is an exchange up and Bishop on d4 is hanging. How should Black fight for the compensation?

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