[October 11, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
King’s Indian Defense, Averbakh Variation & Semi-Averbakh System

[Line 156 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2]

The Averbakh Variation, arising after 6… O-O 7. Bg5, is rarely seen in modern grandmaster practice. Black should generally avoid playing 7… e5, because White wins an exchange after 8. dxe5 dxe5 9. Qxd8 Rxd8 10. Nd5. However, Black has several good options, among them 7… Na6 and 7… c5.

After 7… Na6 8. Qd2 e5 9. d5 players of Black usually seek counterplay on the queenside with 9… c6 10. f3 cxd5 11. cxd5 Bd7. In a setup that resembles the Ben-Oni Defense that occurs after 7… c5 8. d5 h6 9. Be3 e6 the ensuing positions tend to be roughly equal.

Semi-Averbakh System (6… O-O 7. Be3) has its share of followers, among which grandmasters Riazantsev and Sokolov stand out. The two most popular replies are 7… c5, and in this case quite viable 7… e5. Though Black should typically be the more careful side, he has the means to equalize.

[Diagram: Black to Move] S. Mohandesi – A. Kovalev, Eupen 1994. White has overlooked his opponent’s powerful blow, which leads to Black’s considerable advantage. What would you play?

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[October 10, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Slav Defense, Quiet Variation – Chebanenko Variation

[Line 090 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 a6 without 5. Nc3]

The main move against the Chebanenko Varitation is 5. Nc3 and it’s covered in our Line 102. Among the other White’s choices on 5th move 5. Bd3, 5. Qc2, 5. Nbd2 and 5. Bd2 deserve serious attention. Black’s usual plan is 5… Bg4, or (if allowed) 5… Bf5, followed by e7-e6, Be7 and O-O.

An examplary line could be 5. Bd3 Bg4 6. Nbd2 e6 7. O-O Nbd7 8. b3 Bd6, where Black has comfortable position.

Move 5. Qc2 seems to pose a bit more problems for Black, though he is again able to obtain roughly equal positions, both with 5… Bg4 6. Ne5 Bh5 and 5… g6 6. Bd3 Bg7 7. O-O O-O.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Z. Azmaiparashvili – G. Kasparov, Crete 2003. Kasparov didn’t miss the chance to take over the initiative and soon gained a decisive advantage. What is the best continuation for Black?

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[October 09, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Winawer Variation – Main Line

[Line 345 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 without 7. Qg4]

Apart from 7. Qg4 (Line 346), which is the most aggressive line of the Winawer Variation, White has a couple of choices that are more positional.

A natural developing move 7. Nf3 is often associated with the a3-a4-a5 advance, and if Black moves c5-c4 or goes for the exchange with cxd4, White dark-squared Bishop can become a very powerful piece on a3. An exemplary line can be 7. Nf3 Bd7 8. a4 Qa5 9. Bd2 Nbc6, with a balanced position.

The idea of 7. h4 is to gain some space on the kingside. In this case, Black usually avoids short castling, and either opts for a queenside castling or leaves his King in the center. Black is able to get even chances in more than a one way, as in 7. h4 Nbc6 8. h5 h6 9. Nf3 Qa5 10. Bd2 Qc7.

White can go for 7. a4, where the occurring positions greatly resemble those appearing in the 7. Nf3 line.

[Diagram: White to Move] White Bishop is under attack, and Black is ready to play f7-f6 against the g4-g5 threat, creating some counterplay. How should White continue in the diagrammed position?

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[October 08, 2018] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Opocensky Variation

[Line 215 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Be7 6. Nc3 Ne4]

Opocensky Variation (7. Bd2) is the most principled continuation for White after the introductory moves of this opening line. White is ready to meet 7… Nxc3 with 8. Bxc3, without disrupting his pawn structure.

On the 7th move Black has a couple of reactions of about the same strength.

With 7… f5 Black takes control of the e4-square and usually puts the black-squared Bishop on f6 sometime later.

The alternative 7… Bf6 is a more solid choice. After 8. Qc2 Nxd2 9. Qxd2 d6 White has a bit more space, while Black keeps his bishop pair.

Move 7… d5 is another way to take hold of the e4-square, and here again Black should not have difficulties reaching equality.

[Diagram: Black to Move] A. Karpov – V. Salov, Rotterdam 1989. Karpov’s last move was Ra1-c1, which turns out to be a big mistake. How can Black punish his opponent’s oversight?

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[October 07, 2018] Updated Opening Article by GM Borki Predojević:
September 2018 Revisited: Italian Game, Giuoco Pianissimo with 8. a4!?

After the last week’s update of this highly fashionable opening article of great theoretical relevance (with games played by a number of perennial Top 10 mainstays, such as Caruana, Aronian, MVL and Nakamura), the Olympiad has brought more important games by the likes of Bacrot, Vidit, Erdos and Piorun. While these games don’t bring too much drama and/or tactical fireworks, they more than make up for it with extremely accurate play that follows deep engine analyses, which made us promote these games and the ensuing variations to the main line of this article.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black’s bishop pair is obviosly very potent, providing ample compensation for the sacrificed pawn, but is there more for him than fighting for the dynamic balance?

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[October 06, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Modern Defense, Bishop & Three Pawns Attack (incl. Gurgenidze Defense)

[Line 290 : 1. e4 g6]

The Modern Defense leaves White with more space, while Black’s biggest gain is that he usually avoids forced lines.

After the most common 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 Black often opts for 3… c6, planning the d7-d5 advance. White can transpose to lines of the Caro-Kann with 4. Nf3 d5, while other independent continuations are the Gurgenidze Defense (4. f4 d5 5. e5) and the Bishop Attack (4. Bc4).

In case of the Gurgenidze Defense, White typically keeps a small edge after 4. f4 d5 5. e5 Nh6 6. Nf3 f6 7. Be3, while Black is able to equalize against the Bishop Attack, both after 4. Bc4 d6 5. Qf3 e6 6. Nge2 b5 and 4. Bc4 d6 5. Bb3 Nf6 6. Nf3 O-O.

[Diagram: White to Move] S. Galdunts – O. Buergi, Zuerich 2004. Black Queen is overburdened. How can White make use of it to get a big advantage?

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