[October 19, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Closed Defense with 8. d3 (incl. Pilnik Variation)

[Line 394 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. d3]

By choosing 8. d3, White shows that he doesn’t have too big expectations out of the opening – he mostly opts for slow positional maneuvering instead. Yet, in view of Black’s recent good results in the Marshall Attack, as well as in some fashionable Anti-Marshall lines, this line has become increasingly popular.

Black’s usual response is 8… d6, preparing the topical Na5. The main reaction from White is 9. c3, though 9. a3 is an interesting alternative. In both cases, Black gets roughly equal chances with Na5 and c7-c5. For example, after 9. c3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. Nbd2, Black’s position is fine both after 11… Na5 and 11… Re8.

[Diagram: White to Move] This position occurred in a top-level game C. Lutz – M. Adams, Germany 1994. Lutz, as White, managed to find an attractive path to exploit Black’s poor piece coordination and his poorly protected King.

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[October 18, 2016] Updated Opening Line by GM Vadim Zvjaginsev:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Classical Variation (Milner-Barry, Old Zuerich, Noa & San Remo Variations) 

[Line 175 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 without 4… c5, 4… O-O]

Move 4… O-O is covered in our Lines 180-185, while 4… c5 can be found in Lines 178-179.

The main topic of this opening line is the the Noa Variation (4… d5), where move 5. cxd5 is the subject of Lines 176-177. In the critical position, which occurs after 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 dxc4 7. Qxc4 b6, Black should have a reasonably satisfactory play.

On the other hand, we consider the San Remo Variation (4… d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 Ne4 7. Qc2 Nc6 8. e3) dangerous for Black, after 8… e5 9. f3!.

In the Milner-Barry Variation (4… Nc6 5. Nf3 d6) White should be able to secure a slight advantage after 6. Bd2 O-O 7. a3 Bxc3 8. Bxc3, thanks to his bishop pair.

[Diagram: White to Move] M. Carlsen – A. Onishcuk, Biel 2007. Young Carlsen missed the chance to win the game immediately. Can you see the winning idea for White?

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2016-03-02 - Update Line 074[October 17, 2016] Updated Opening Line from GM Dragan Paunović:
Trompowsky Attack with 2… e6

[Line 074 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 e6]

Reacting with 2… e6 against the Trompowsky Attack is one of the soundest ways to play it with Black, since it doesn’t allow White to double his opponent’s pawns after capturing on f6, and it also does not expose the knight by moving it to e4. White usually gets more space, but Black gets a bishop pair, like in the main line after 3. e4 h6 4. Bxf6 Qxf6. This line is often a choice that many top players opt for when faced with the Trompowsky Attack.

Position on the diagram is an important one to know, because it keeps appearing in so many games. Sometimes even some very strong grandmasters were on the receiving end of an elegant tactical blow that brings White quite close to winning a full point. Do you know this opening trap?

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[October 16, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Trajko Nedev:
Petroff Defense, Classical Attack – Jaenisch Variation (Main Line with 8… Nb4)

[Line 357 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8. c4 Nb4 9. Be2 O-O 10. Nc3 Bf5]

By far the main move for White is 11. a3, where after the forced 11… Nxc3 12. bxc3 Nc6 White usually continues with 13. Re1. Now, if Black opts for 13… Bf6, one of the ways to fight for advantage as White is 14. Bf4 Na5 15. cxd5 Qxd5 16. Qa4, while after 13… dxc4 14. Bxc4 Bd6 White’s position is preferable if he plays 15. Ng5 Qd7 16. Ra2 (followed by Rae2), as well as after 15. Bg5 Qd7 16. Nh4 Na5 17. Ba2.

In view of the variations discussed above, move 13… Re8 seems like the best option for Black, where after both 14. cxd5 Qxd5 15. Bf4 Rac8 and 14. Bf4 dxc4 15. Bxc4 Bd6 Black is able to equalize with a couple of accuracies.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has sacrificed an exchange and needs to act vigorously to justify his choice. How would you proceed?

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[October 15, 2017] Updated Opening Article by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
June 2017 Revisited: Ruy Lopez, Closed Defense with 6. d3 (10. Ng5!?)

This is still a reasonably fashionable line, with several theoretically relevant top-level games and contributions from Karjakin, Wojtaszek, Bacrot, Ragger, Kosteniuk and Paehtz. Positions that appear in this variation vary from deeply strategical to extremely tactical, so there’s definitely something for everyone’s taste. Especially interesting and theoretically important is our latest entry S. Karjakin – M Ragger, Antalya 2017, which requires extreme accuracy and attention to detail by the players of Black who want to try this line.

[Diagram: Black to Move] The diagrammed position is from our analysis of V. Onischuk – D. Howell, Doha (rapid) 2016. David Howell was obviously reluctant to exchange his bishop for the knight on f5, but there was a hidden idea that would have justified that positional concession. Can you spot it? NB: This is a very difficult positional exercise.

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2016-03-14 - Update Line 020[October 14, 2017] Updated Opening Line (originally by GM Dragan Paunović):
English Opening, Symmetrical Variation – Three Knights System

[Line 020 : 1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Nc3]

There are three major lines covered in Line 020, and the first one is the highly popular 3… e5 that can lead to very dynamic positions, like in the main line: 3… e5 4. e3 Nf6 5. d4 cxd4 6. exd4 e4 7. Ne5. After 3… g6 4. e3 Nf6 5. d4 cxd4 6. exd4 d5 a tricky type of the Panov Attack usually occurs. Finally, there is also a not particularly promising line for Black, starting with 3… Nd4.

Moves like 3… Nf6 and 3… e6 lead to positions covered in other opening lines: the former is covered in Line 032, while the latter transposes to Line 033 after 3… e6 4. g3 Nf6.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black has a space advantage and just needs to develop his light-squared Bishop to fortify his position. However, it’s White’s turn to move, and he has an energetic way to seize the initiative!

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