[July 10, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Benko Gambit, Declined & Accepted

[Line 121 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5]

Aside from the most common 4. cxb5, White’s particularly interesting possibilities are also 4. Qc2, 4. Nf3 and 4. Nd2, all demanding from Black quite a few accuracies to avoid getting into inferior positions.

The most promising variation for White is accepting the pawn sacrifice 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6, which is the main line and it is covered separately in our Line 122.

The other popular options for White on the fifth move – 5. b6, 5. e3 and 5. f3 – seem to be less demanding than the main line, and they are, in our opinion, more suitable for club level players. From these lines 5. e3 poses the most problems for Black, though Black generally gets enough compensation after 5. e3 g6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. a4 O-O.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Ki. Georgiev – I. Rogers, Biel 1993. Intriguing position of the black Bishops allows him to make an unexpected blow. What would you propose?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[July 09, 2017] Updated Opening Article by Boris Avrukh:
September 2014 Revisited: The Scotch Game, Potter Variation (7… a5!?)

While his variation is no longer as fashionable as it was 2-3 years ago, some theoretically important developments have still taken place in the meantime. There are several highly relevant games from all sources (correspondence-, engine- and over-the-board games), so this update is packed with high-quality games that require serious examination.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position is from a top-level grandmaster game I-A. Nataf – L. Fressinet, Drancy 2016. White has so many attacked and pinned pieces, which makes his position hanging by a thread. How can he get away from this precarious situation?

Click here to see the updated article in our viewer.


[July 08, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Petroff Defense, incl. Cochrane Gambit, Paulsen & Millennium Attacks and Kaufmann & Lasker Variations

[Line 352 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5]

The only principal choice for Black on the third move is 3… d6, where as alternatives to the main 4. Nf3 White can also try the quiet Paulsen Variation (4. Nc4), and the sharp Cochrane Gambit (4. Nxf7), though it hardly gives him sufficient compensation for the sacrificed Knight.

After the most common 3… d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 move 5. d4 is covered in our Lines 354-357, while 5. Nc3 is examined in Line 353.

The Lasker Variation 5. Qe2 leads to an early endgame after 5… Qe7 6. d3 Nf6 7. Bg5 Qxe2+ 8. Bxe2, where Black usually equalizes without difficulties.

Kaufmann Variation (5. c4) is aimed against d6-d5. Black generally has no problems obtaining a comfortable position here, for example 5… Nc6 6. d4 d5 7. c5 Bg4, and Black is fine.

Also, in the Millennium Attack (5. Bd3) Black has good prospects, for instance 5… Nf6 6. O-O Be7 7. h3 O-O 8. c3 b6 9. Bc2 Bb7 10. d4 Nbd7, with equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] I. Nepomniachtchi – S. Sjugirov, Sochi 2016. A truly exceptional motif allows White to gain a practically decisive edge. Any ideas?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[July 07, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, incl. Grand Prix Variation & Closed Sicilian

[Line 415 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 without 2… Nc6]

The most popular variations for Black against the Closed Sicilian are 2… Nc6 (covered in Line 416), 2… d6 (the main choice of the Najdorf aficionados), and 2… e6 (frequent choice of those hoping for the Paulsen Variation), while 2… a6 and 2… g6 are also quite popular.

In the Grand Prix Variation (2… d6 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bc4) White’s plan often includes O-O, Qe1-h4, d2-d3 and f4-f5, exerting the pressure on the kingside. A typical example of how the game continues is 5… Nc6 6. O-O e6 7. d3 Nge7 8. Qe1 O-O 9. Qh4 d5, with mutual play.

Another commonly seen possibility for White is 5. Bb5+, where both 5… Bd7 and 5… Nc6 are sufficient for getting roughly even chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] Wen Yang – V. Artemiev, Moscow 2016. White pawn on e5 can hardly be defended, but nonetheless White can obtain a decisive advantage thanks to the strong pressure along the f-file.

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[July 06, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Boris Avrukh:
Neo-Gruenfeld Defense, Classical Variation (Polgar Variation & Modern Defense)

[Line 133 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 d5 without 5. cxd5]

Move 5. cxd5 is examined in our Lines 134-135, while 5. Nc3 and 5. Nbd2 hardly allow White to fight for opening advantage.

Another popular option 5. Bg2 is the main point of interest of this opening line. Black can transpose to Line 131 with 5… c6, continue with 5… O-O 6. O-O Nc6 (Polgar Variation), or opt for 5… dxc4 (Modern Defense), where after 6. Na3 c3 7. bxc3 O-O 8. O-O c5 occurs one of the critical positions in the Neo-Gruenfeld Defense. Now, move 9. e3 is the old main line, while 9. Ne5 and 9. Re1 have recently gained a lot of attention. Another option for Black against the Modern Defense is 5… dxc4 6. Na3 c5, where White had the upper hand in the following two theoretically important games: Kramnik – Topalov, London 2016 and A. Giri – N. Grandelius, Reykjavik 2017.

[Diagram: White to Move] N. Vitiugov – E. Najer, Sochi 2016. White has a possibility to gain a big edge. Can you see it?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[July 05, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Kasparov Variation with 4… Bb4

[Line 204 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. Nc3 Bb4 without 5. Bg5]

Apart from the most frequently played 5. Bg5 (Line 205), and 5. e3 transposing to the variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defense covered in our Line 186, White has two other notable options – 5. Qb3 and 5. Qc2. The idea of these two moves is similar: to play a2-a3 and take the Bishop with the Queen after the most common reply Bxc3+. Both moves have their pros and cons: Queen from b3 immediately attacks the Bishop, but it is usually more useful on c2.

The most promising answers to 5. Qb3 are 5… c5 and 5… a5, while after 5. Qc2 Bb7 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. Qxc3 d6 Black should also equalize without difficulties.

[Diagram: White to Move] E. Bareev – M. Adams, Wijk aan Zee 2002. Can you see a better reaction for White than moving away his attacked Knight from b5?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…