[March 13, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Scotch Game (incl. Mieses, Tartakower & Malaniuk Variations); Goering Gambit

[Line 359 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4]

In the position arising after 3… exd4 4. Nxd4 players of Black have tried various moves, among which 4… Bc5 (covered in our Lines 361-362) and 4… Nf6 are by far the most popular ones. In case of 4… Qf6, in addition to 5. Nxc6 Bc5 (transposing to Line 362) and 5. Be3 Bc5 (dealt with in Line 361), White has an interesting option in 5. Nb5 Bc5 6. Qd2. Another sideline is the Malaniuk Variation (4… Bb4+), where White is able to gain a slight edge with 5. c3 Bc5 6. Be3 Bb6 7. Nf5.

The main topic of this opening line is 4… Nf6 with 5. Nxc6 bxc6 being the usual follow-up, where 6. Bd3 and 6. Qe2 are rarely seen alternatives to the more common Mieses Variation 6. e5. The main line goes 6. e5 Qe7 7. Qe2 Nd5 8. c4 with both 8… Ba6 (Line 360) and 8… Nb6 frequently seen in the modern grandmaster practice. Against any of these moves Black has more than one way to obtain roughly equal chances.

The Goering Gambit (3… exd4 4. c3), as well as the Tartakower Variation (3… exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. Nd2) hardly pose serious problems to the players of Black, which is the main reason for their rare occurrence in modern tournament practice.

[Diagram: White to Move] Can you find the winning move sequence for White in the diagrammed position?

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[March 12, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
King’s Indian Defense, King’s Knight Variation

[Line 125 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3]

The King’s Knight Variation 3. Nf3 is often an introduction to the fianchetto lines of the Indian Defenses. After 3… Bg7, move 4. Nc3 transposes to Line 150, and against 4. g3 the most popular lines are examined elsewhere: the King’s Indian Defense 4… O-O in our Lines 126-130, the solid 4… c6 in Lines 131-132, and the  Gruenfeld Defense 4… d5 in Lines 133-135.

After 4… c5 White usually continues with 5. Bg2. Besides 5… cxd4, Black has an interesting sideline in 5… Qa5+, trying to disrupt White’s common setup. The logical follow-ups after the three most logical replies are: 6. Nc3 Ne4 7. Qd3 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Nc5, 6. Bd2 Qb6 7. dxc5 Qxc5 8. Qb3 Nc6 and 6. Qd2 Qxd2+ 7. Nbxd2 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Nc6. Regardless of the chosen variation, Black should have sufficient resources to get even positions. If White plays 5. d5, Black also has a promising option: 5… b5 6. cxb5 Qa5+ 7. Bd2 Qxb5.

Another possible setup for Black is the double fianchetto: 4… b6 5. Bg2 Bb7. Though White has a slight space advantage, it’s hard for him to gain a tangible plus.

[Diagram: White to Move] What is the best way for White to make use of the h-file and launch a decisive attack?

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[March 11, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Dutch Defense, Leningrad Variation

[Line 050 : 1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 g6]

A big branching in the Leningrad Variation occurs after 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. c4 d6 7. Nc3. The most popular options here are 7… c6, 7… Qe8 and 7… Nc6.

Move 7… c6 is a flexible choice, not yet revealing the arrangement of the pieces. If White continues with 8. b3, move 8… Na6 followed by Qc7 and e7-e5 gives Black a decent play. In case of 8. Rb1, probably the best reply is 8… Ne4 and the e7-e5 advance soon follows. The third common option is 8. d5, where again after the topical 8… e5 Black should be fine.

The idea of 7… Qe8 is an early e7-e5, but White is able to get somewhat better prospects with 8. b3 e5 9. dxe5 dxe5 10. e4!

After 7… Nc6 8. d5 Black responds with either 8… Na5 or 8… Ne5, and in both cases White’s position is preferable.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Bu Xiangzi – Zhang Zhong, Beijing (rapid) 2008. Black’s plan is clear – exerting pressure on the kingside against the weakened white King. How would you proceed with Black to gain a longterm initiative?

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[March 10, 2019] Updated Opening Article by Boris Avrukh:
October 2017 Revisited: Anglo-Grünfeld Defense, Stein Attack

Our original key game in this line was E. Bacrot – V. Ivanchuk, Ashdod (rapid) 2015, where White tried a very promising idea, but played it one move too late to achieve something tangible. Fortunately for us, a number of correspondence games took place in the same line where players of White managed to create serious problems to their opponents, which gave us the opportunity to evaluate this variation properly. New engine games that we have added in this update only seem to confirm that White has the upper hand in this line.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position is from one of the most recent theoretically important engine games: Sugar XPro 1.4 – Sugar XPro 1.3, Internet 2018. How can White proceed with his attack with devastating power?

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[March 09, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch (incl. Pillsbury Variation)

[Line 243 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 without 4… Nbd7, 4… dxc4, 4… Bb4, 4… Be7, 4… c6]

The most common choices of Black are spread over various opening lines: 4… c6 can be found in Lines 265-285,  4… Be7 in Lines 253-264, 4… Bb4 in Lines 248-252, 4… dxc4 in Lines 245-247, and 4… Nbd7 in our Line 244.

The main topic of this opening line is the so-called Semi-Tarrasch (4… c5), where after 5. cxd5 Black replies 5… Nxd5. The Semi-Tarrasch gained a lot of popularity in the recent couple of years, mainly due to Kramnik’s efforts to revive this classical opening with black pieces. The usual follow-up is 6. e4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 cxd4 8. cxd4 Bb4+ 9. Bd2 Bxd2 10. Qxd2 O-O, where White obtains a pawn center, but Black has already exchanged two pairs of minor pieces, which gives him good chances to equalize.

Another viable option for Black is 5… cxd4, where after 6. Qxd4 exd5 the principal continuation is 7. e4 Nc6 8. Bb5. Even here Black is able to equalize with accurate play, as seen in the recent W. So – Wei Yi, Wijk aan Zee 2017 game.

The Pillsbury Variation 4… c5 5. Bg5 is a possible sideline for White, where after 5… cxd4 6. Qxd4 Be7 7. cxd5 exd5 the position is roughly balanced.

[Diagram: White to Move] L. Polugaevsky – M Tal, Moscow 1969. White has carried out a topical pawn sacrifice d4-d5 and intends to exert pressure on the kingside. White Bishop and Rook on d1 are currently under attack by the black Knight. How should White proceed and obtain an almost decisive advantage?

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[March 08, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Sicilian Defense, Richter-Rauzer Variation – Main Line with 7… a6 8. O-O-O Bd7

[Line 476 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6 8. O-O-O Bd7]

From the initial position of this opening line there are two substantially different continuations for White – 9. f4 and 9. f3.

The first of the two is more direct, where after 9. f4 b5 10. Bxf6 gxf6 11. Kb1 Qb6 12. Nxc6 Bxc6 occurs the critical position. Here, White usually opts for either 13. f5 or 13. Qe1, while 13. Bd3 is also quite possible. The general evaluation is that these positions are easier to play with White, though Black is able to get sufficient counterplay with a few accuracies.

The other option 9. f3 is a more strategical approach, and in this line Black also needs to be careful not to get into inferior positions. The two most popular replies after 9… Be7 are prophylactic 10. Kb1, and the Bishop retreat 10. Be3, followed by g2-g4 and later g4-g5.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black Bishop on h6 is active and it seems like Black has a sufficient compensation for the pawn. Yet, there is a way for White to gain an advantage with an unexpected blow! Can you find it?

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