[January 29, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Reti Opening, King’s Indian Attack with 2… c5

[Line 023 : 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 without 2… c6, 2… Nf6]

Move 2… Nf6 is covered in our Lines 026-028, while 2… c6 is the topic of our Line 024. There are also many other possible setups for Black, and they are dealt with here in Line 023.

The idea of 2… Bg4 is Nd7, e7-e6, Bd6 and then either Ne7 or Ngf6, all the while delaying c7-c6. An illustrative line could be 3. Bg2 Nd7 4. O-O e6 5. d3 Bd6 6. Nbd2 Ne7, with equality.

Early kingside fianchetto 2… g6 is another popular option. Black usually proceeds with Bg7, e7-e5 and Ne7. If at some moment White plays c2-c4, Black can decide between taking the pawn with dxc4, advancing d5-d4, or defending the pawn with either c7-c6 or Nf6.

After the active 2… c5 occurs a reversed King’s Indian Defense (3. Bg2 Nc6 4. O-O e5) or reversed Gruenfeld Defense (3. Bg2 Nc6 4. d4), in both cases with equal chances.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Taking the poisoned pawn in the diagrammed position turns out to be a big mistake for White. How does Black gain an almost decisive advantage?

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[January 28, 2019] 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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[January 27, 2019] Updated Opening Article by Boris Avrukh:
June 2017 Revisited: Sicilian Defense, Taimanov-Bastrikov Variation with 7… Bd6

Along with the Italian Game, this is one of our most frequently updated opening surveys. Though, admittedly, not as high profile as the Giuoco Piano, the fact that this line is played at pretty much all levels makes it a legitimate target for updating every now and then.

While our best mutual play still follows A. Motylev – M. Bosiočić, Moscow 2017, there are several lines that we find equally relevant for modern opening theory. There is no doubt that this is a very topical and fashionable line, and we believe there is still plenty of room for improvement for both sides.

[Diagram: Black to Move] What is the correct evaluation of the diagrammed position? Find the best line for both sides.

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2016-02-23 - Update Line 032[January 26, 2019] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
English Opening, Asymmetrical & Four Knights Variations

[Line 032 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 without 3… e6]

Line 032 covers various choices for Black on 3rd move. The main variaton arises after 3… d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5, with several popular choices for White – 5. d4, 5. e4, 5. e3 as well as some rare sidelines. It can lead to very different types of positions ranging from sharp (e. g. after 5. e4 Nb4 6. Bc4 Nd3+ 7. Ke2, as played in some recent top games, like Aronian – Topalov, London 2015) to deeply strategical positions (e. g. after 5. d4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 g6 7. Bf4, as seen in Aronian – Caruana, Wijk aan Zee 2014). The fact that Aronian outplayed these two super GMs in very convincing fashion shows that this line can be very tricky!

[Diagram: White to Move] Korobov – Timofeev, Sochi 2015. White missed a great opportunity to gain a significant advantage. Can you find it?

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[January 25, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Closed Defense with 6. d3 b5

[Line 392 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5]

Move 6… b5 is one of the common ways to respond to White’s threat of Bxc6 and Nxe5 in the Ruy Lopez. Black keeps some extra options open like transferring the Bishop from e7 to c5, and forces the Bishop to move to b3: 7. Bb3. There are three possible continuations for Black here: 7… d6, 7… O-O and 7… Bb7 (transposing to Line 386).

By playing 7… d6, Black intends to trade his Knight for the powerful Bishop on b3 with Na5xb3. The main response from White is 8. a4, where both 8… Bd7 and 8… b4 are well-examined and lead to balanced positions.

8. a3 is an alternative way to oppose Black’s plan that has recently gained in popularity. White often continues with Nc3, Be3 and, if allowed, with d3-d4, too. Black has a couple of ways to reach equality, most notably 8… Na5 9. Ba2 c5 and 8… O-O 9. Nc3 Bg4 10. Be3 Nd4.

In case of 7… O-O 8. a4 b4 9. Nbd2 Black is able to obtain good prospects with the active 9… Bc5, which is frequently followed by d7-d6, Rb8 and Be6.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black King, after capturing a sacrificed piece, bravely stepped deep into White’s camp. How should White continue to punish his opponent’s hazardous play?

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[January 24, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Catalan Defense, Closed Variation with 4… Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2

[Line 236 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2]

After the most frequently played 7… a6, White has a choice between 8. Qxc4 (Lines 237-238) and the move that is the main focus of this opening line – 8. a4, which has gained a lot of popularity in recent years.

The main response to 8. a4 is certainly 8… Bd7, often followed by Bc6. Black’s plan typically involves a6-a5, Bxf3 and c6, which leads to very solid position. After 9. Qxc4 Bc6 White proceeds either with 10. Bg5 or 10. Bf4, and both of these move have been tried many times among the top-tier players. Apart from capturing the c4-pawn immediately with his queen, White can postpone it with 9. Rd1 Bc6 10. Nc3 or 9. Ne5 Bc6 10. Nxc6 Nxc6 11. e3. In both cases, Black is able to get equal chances, though it usually requires several accurate moves.

On 8th move Black has tried various alternatives to 8… Bd7, but only 8… c5 seems to give him good chances for equality. After 8… c5 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Nbd2 an interesting pawn sacrifice 10… b5!? 11. axb5 Bb7 12. bxa6 Nxa6 13. Qxc4 Bd5 leads to sufficient compensation for Black.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White’s last move was Nb1-c3, allowing Black the possibility to seize the initiative. What is the best way to continue as Black?

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