[March 18, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, English Hybrid

[Line 199 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Nc3 c5 5. g3 cxd4]

The position arising after 6. Nxd4 often occurs from the English Opening: 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 e6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Bb4 6. g3. The main continuation here is 6… O-O, while from the other options 6… Ne4 seems to be the only one that allows Black to equalize.

After 6… O-O 7. Bg2 d5 there are two interesting sidelines: 8. O-O dxc4 9. Qa4 and 8. Qb3 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3. Players of White usually opt for 8. cxd5 where on 8… Nxd5 move 9. Bd2 leads to a balanced and not too complicated position. Move 9. Qb3 is frequently seen on the highest level, where beside 9…. Qa5 10. Bd2 Nc6 Black is also able to get a decent position with 9… Nc6, 9… Qb6 and 9… Na6.

[Diagram: White to Move] V. Zvjaginsev – Z. Almasi, Altensteig 1994. Black pieces lack coordination, while white Bishop on d4 dominates the black squares. Can you see how White can obtain a decisive advantage in just a couple of moves?

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[March 17, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Old & Alekhine Variations

[Line 058 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 without 3. e4]

Apart from the most direct approach 3. e4, covered in our Lines 059 & 060, White has two fairly popular options: 3. Nf3 and 3. e3.

After the Knight development with 3. Nf3, Black can transpose to Line 080 with 3… Nf6, or choose between other viable possibilities – 3… e6 and the Alekhine Variation (3… a6).

In case of the solid Old Variation (3. e3) Black has, besides the calm 3… Nf6 and 3… e6, a more concrete option in 3… e5, leading to an isolated d-pawn for White after 4. Bxc4 exd4 5. exd4.

[Diagram: White to Move] S. Pujos – Y. Afek, France 2003. Black’s last move was the careless 10… Ra8-d8, missing the strong reply leading to a winning position for his opponent. How should White continue and get an overwhelming edge?

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[March 16, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Dragon Variation – Yugoslav Attack

[Line 466 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4]

The Yugoslav Attack in the Dragon Variation is certainly one of the most daring lines in the modern chess theory.

The most popular continuation is 9… Bd7. If White opts for 10. Bb3 Black has, apart from 10… Rc8, two extra possibilities: 10… Nxd4 11. Bxd4 b5 and 10… Na5, both with roughly equal chances.

The main move is 10. O-O-O, where Black has, besides the most common 10… Rc8, two also interesting options: 10… Rb8 (Chinese Variation) and 10… Qb8. The game is very sharp and with mutual chances in both of these sidelines, though  White’s position, if played accurately, should be slightly preferable.

One of the best known tabiyas of the Dragon Variation occurs after 10… Rc8 11. Bb3 Ne5. Now, lines 12. Kb1 Re8 and 12. h4 h5 are considered to be of about the same strength, both leading to highly complex positions.

For club level players we recommend rarely played, yet viable, 9… Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Be6 leading to positions that are balanced, but a bit easier to play with white pieces.

[Diagram: White to Move] The end of a famous game: A. Karpov – V. Korchnoi, Moscow (m/2) 1974. To crack his opponent’s defense White needs to remove the black Knight from protecting the h7-pawn. White to play and win!

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[March 15, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Exchange Variation with 8. Bd3

[Line 268 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. Bg5 Nbd7 6. cxd5 exd5 7. e3 Be7 8. Bd3]

Line 268 deals with the main line of the Exchange Variation in the Queen’s Gambit Declined.

The most common Black’s choice is 8… O-O, followed by Re8 and Nf8. After the usual 9. Qc2 Re8 10. O-O Nf8 White has a couple of well-investigated continuations. Prophylactic 11. h3 prevents Black from placing a Knight or a Bishop to g4, and also in some cases provides a square h2 for the Bishop retreat. The idea of 11. Rae1 is often connected with the e3-e4 breakthrough, while 11. Rab1 prepares a minority attack on the queenside with b2-b4-b5.

Black has at his disposal two possible sidelines. By playing 8… Ne4, Black often trades a pair of minor pieces in the early stage of the game.

The maneuver 8… Nf8 is accompanied by either Ne6 or Ng6, and later short castling, with Black’s good chances to equalize.

[Diagram: White to Move] If White takes the Rook on e4 the material will be roughly balanced, but White stays without an important piece for his attack. On the other hand, Black would like to activate the Knight from b6 to d7 and later to f6, taking part in the defense of the black King. So, what do you think is the best way to proceed as White?

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[March 14, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Gruenfeld Defense, Three Knights Variation (incl. Hungarian Attack & Burille Variation)

[Line 146 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3]

After the exclusively played 4… Bg7 White has a choice of many setups, among which 5. Qb3 is covered in our Lines 148 & 149, while 5. Bg5 belongs to Line 147.

Hungarian Attack (5. Bf4) is the main option in this opening line. The game often follows 5… O-O 6. Rc1, where 6… c5 is a reasonable alternative to a more common 6… dxc4. Against the latter option, move 7. e3 leads to quiet positions, while 7. e4 can easily get a forced character.

Burille Variation (5. e3) is a modest and solid option, thus we recommend it for club level players and also for beginners. Players of White have tried many continuations after 5… O-O, namely 6. cxd5, 6. Be2 and 6. Bd2. White’s setup, though unambitious, is a hard nut to crack.

From a number of possible sidelines, White sometimes opts for the tricky 5. Qa4+ or the aggressive 5. h4.

[Diagram: Black to Move] It seems that White has a good counterplay on the queenside, while his Knight and dark-squared Bishop are doing a good job defending the King. Still, Black has the means to get a big edge – can you see how?

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[March 13, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Slav Defence – Chebanenko Variation

[Line 069 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 without 4. Nf3]

Apart from 4. Nf3 (Lines 098-111), which is the main variation of the Slav Defense, players of White often go for 4. e3, defending the c-pawn with the light-squared Bishop. Black has a couple of options of about the same strength: 4… a6 and 4… e6, while after 4… g6 the game usually transposes to the Schlechter Variation with 5. Nf3 (Lines 088-089).

A big part of the Chebanenko Variation (4… a6) that occurs after 5. Nf3 is covered in our Lines 102-103. Other popular choices for White are 5. Qc2 and 5. Bd3. Responding with 5… e6 against the first option is dealt with separately, while its alternative 5… g6 is also fine for Black. After 5… b5 6. b3 and 5… Bg4 6. h3 Bh5 7. Qb3 White gets somewhat better prospects.

In case of 4… e6, White can transfer to the Meran Defense (Lines 274-285) with 5. Nf3, but he can also opt for the more quiet 5. b3, where Black should not have any problems reaching the equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] White Knight is under attack and moving it away is not an option. How should White fight for a longterm initiative?

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