[May 16, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Normal Variation – Rubinstein Variation (Blackburne Defense with 6. Nxf6+)

[Line 333 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Nf3 Ngf6 6. Nxf6+]

Line 333 covers one of the most principled lines of the Rubinstein Variation in the French Defense, where after 6… Nxf6 White has several interesting possibilities .

Prophylactic move 7. c3 overprotects the d4-pawn, and prepares to answer the topical 7… c5 with 8. Ne5, often followed by a Queen or Bishop check along the a4-e8 diagonal. The main line typically follows 8… a6 9. Be3 Qc7 10. Qa4+ Nd7, and Black needs to be well-prepared and cautious not to fall into problems.

The idea of 7. Be3 is to make Black’s c7-c5 advance more difficult. Black has a few paths to obtain roughly equal chances, for example 7… Nd5 8. Bd2 c5, and also 7… Bd6 8. Bd3 O-O 9. Qe2 b6.

From other notable options for White we shall mention 7. Bd3 c5 8. Be3, and 7. g3 b6 8. Bb5+!? Bd7 9. Be2. In both cases Black gets good prospects with a few accuracies.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black wins with a nice trick – can you find it?

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[May 15, 2017] Dusted Off: Opening Survey by GM Dragan Paunović:
January 2015 Revisited: Symmetrical English, Three Knights Variation (8. e4!)

This update is a small tribute to our late colleague GM Dragan Paunović. In memory of our dear friend, our Editorial Board will keep updating his lines and articles.

Aronian is still the main proponent of this variation among the players of White and his ability to squeeze water from a stone is absolutely incredible: after a rather uneventful draw in Ashdod against Vachier-Lagrave Levon managed to find new resources and score an important win at the Grenke Chess Classic 2017. While his grinding prowess remains impressive, from a purely theoretical point of view this line hardly offers much to the players of White, as most recent top level games seem to suggest.

[Diagram: White to Move] White king feels uncomfortable, so there’s no time to waste. What is the best course of action for him?

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[May 14, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Alapin Variation with 2… Nf6 (Miscellaneous)

[Line 419 : 1. e4 c5 2. c3 Nf6]

After the (almost) exclusively played 3. e5 Nd5, White usually proceeds with 4. Nf3, where 4… Nc6 is covered in Line 420.

Another fashionable option is 4… e6, where we think that 5. d4 cxd4 6. cxd4 is suitable for club level players, while 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 should be more appropriate for beginners. The main line goes 5. Bc4 d6 6. d4 cxd4 7. cxd4, and here 7… Be7, followed by O-O, b7-b6 and Bb7 is a good alternative to the more common 7… Nc6. White has, after 7… Nc6 8. O-O Be7, a few options of about the same strength: 9. Qe2, 9. Bd2 (with the idea Nc3), and 9. exd6 Qxd6 10. Nc3. Black’s position is generally fine, though he needs to play a couple of accuracies to equalize.

[Diagram: White to Move] S. Dolmatov – V. Tukmakov, Elenite 1995. Black intends to play a7-a6 and Bb7, which would lead to a perfectly fine position. However, it is White’s move and he can seize the initiative with enterprising play. How would you continue?

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[May 13, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Kasparov-Petrosian Variation with 5… d5 6. cxd5 Nxd5 7. e3

[Line 211 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Bb7 5. Nc3 d5 6. cxd5 Nxd5 7. e3]

Black has several mostly solid setups at his disposal, starting from the 7th move.

Move 7… g6 leads to positions resembling the Gruenfeld Defense. The game often continues with 8. Bb5+ c6 9. Bd3 Bg7, where 10. Na4 is an interesting option, planning to attack the Knight on d5 with e3-e4.

After the topical 7… Be7, White again commonly reacts with 8. Bb5+ c6 9. Bd3, where the position ensuing after 9… O-O 10. O-O Nxc3 11. bxc3 c5 is roughly equal.

Black also has other possibilities that offer him decent prospects, for instance: 7… Nd7 8. Bd3 c5,  7… c5 8. Bb5+ Bc6  9. Bd3 cxd4 and 7… Nxc3 8. bxc3 Bd6 9. Bd3 O-O 10. e4 c5.

[Diagram: Black to Move] M. Genchev – A. Baranyuk, corr. 2012. White Bishops and the Knight are already aimed toward the black King, but if White wants his attack to succeed he needs his Queen, too! So, what would you propose?

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[May 12, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Caro-Kann Defense, Advance Variation (incl. Botvinnik-Carls Defense and Bronstein & Bayonet Variations)

[Line 315 : 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5]

The main move against the Advance Variation of Caro-Kann is 3… Bf5, where the most popular options for White include 4. Nf3 (Lines 318-320), 4. Nc3 (Line 317), 4. h4 (Line 316) and 4. Nd2 (Line 316). This opening line deals with other, less frequently played, options.

Move 4. Be3 is aimed against Black’s topical reaction c6-c5, and is usually followed by Nd2, Ngf3, Be2 and O-O.

Positions occurring after 4. c4 are sensitive and demand precise play from both sides. Black will, at some point, play dxc4 and gain a pleasant square d5 for one of his Knights. White has more space and often deploys his KN via e2 to g3.

Bayonet Variation (4. g4) and Bronstein Variation (4. Ne2) are rarely seen in modern practice, since here Black gets comfortable positions without difficulties.

Botvinnik-Carls Defense (3… c5) is a solid alternative to 3… Bf5. White can proceed with 4. Nf3, but the more common choice is 4. dxc5, where both 4… e6 and 4… Nc6 are well investigated, and typically give Black sufficient counterplay.

[Diagram: Black to Move] K. Litz – R. Nagel, corr. 2006. White pieces lack coordination which allows Black to gain a big edge. What would you play?

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[May 11, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Modern Bishop’s Opening

[Line 368 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3]

Black can transpose to the Italian Game with 4… Bc5, or he can opt for another popular variation by playing 4… Be7. White has a choice between several mostly interchangeable move orders, though his plan usually includes O-O, Re1 and either a2-a4 or c2-c3.

The main line goes 4… Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. Re1 d6 7. a4. Now the simplest way to handle the position with Black is 7… Be6 8. Nbd2 Qd7, while 7… Na5 8. Ba2 c5 9. c3 Nc6 presents a reasonable alternative.

The most aggressive choice for Black is 7… Kh8, with a rather straightforward plan: Ng8 and f7-f5. The exemplary line could be 8. a5 a6 9. c3 Ng8 10. d4 f5, with mutual chances.

[Diagram: Black to Move] L. Psakhis – V. Chekhov, Vilnius 1980. Black is exerting pressure on the kingside, but can he further improve upon it?

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