[December 01, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Reti Opening without 1… d5, 1… Nf6 (incl. Lisitsin Gambit)

[Line 018 : 1. Nf3 without 1… d5, 1… Nf6]

Black’s decision what to reply against 1. Nf3 is closely connected with the preferred openings against 1. d4 and 1. e4.

The two most usual choices here are 1… Nf6 (Lines 025-045) and 1… d5 (Lines 021-024), while other options are the main point of interest of this opening line.

By playing 1… c5 Black offers a transposition to the Sicilian Defense (2. e4), and the English Opening (2. c4). White can also opt for the kingside fianchetto 2. g3, where again the game often transposes to some other opening.

Dutch Defense fans typically prefer 1… f5, where the Lisitsin Gambit 2. e4 is an amusing alternative to the more quiet 2. d3.

From other popular choices we mention 1… e6, 1… d6 an 1… g6 with both sides still having ample possibilities of transferring to various openings.

[Diagram: Black to Move] S. Movsesian – K. Lagno,  Khanty-Mansiysk (rapid) 2013. Black had a magnificent possibility that is hard to notice, that would have given her a very strong initiative. How should have Black continued?

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[November 30, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Classical Defense (Steinitz Variation)

[Line 081 : 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 dxc4 4. e3]

The common choice of players of Black in QGA is the Steinitz Variation 4… e6 5. Bxc4 c5. In the positions occurring in this variation White often gets an isolated d4-pawn, while having a bit more space for his pieces.

Apart from the main 6. O-O (covered in Lines 082-085), White frequently employs 6. Qe2, which is the main point of interest of this opening line. If Black opts for 6… cxd4 or 6… Nc6, White is able to get somewhat better prospects; for example, after 6… cxd4 7. exd4 Be7 8. O-O Nc6 9. Rd1 O-O 10. Nc3 and 6… Nc6 7. O-O a6 8. Rd1 b5 9. dxc5 Qc7 10. Bd3 Bxc5 11. a4 White has a slight initiative.

For that reason the game usually continues with 6. Qe2 a6 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. O-O, where the most reliable move is 8… Nc6, with roughly equal prospects.

There are two sidelines for Black that could be interesting for club level players – 4… b5 5. a4 b4 6. Bxc4 e6 and 4… a6 5. Bxc4 b5 6. Bd3 Bb7. The additional alternative 4… Bg4 does not seem to be too promising, since after 5. Bxc4 e6 6. Nc3 Nbd7 7. O-O, White gets a slight but stable advantage.

[Diagram: White to Move] H. Hopfgartner – P. Soldini, corr. 2004. White has a strong initiative for the sacrificed pawn. Indeed, he can even get an overwhelming edge with energetic play. Can you find the best way to proceed as White?

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[November 29, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation – Taimanov-Bastrikov Variation (Bastrikov Variation)

[Line 453 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 without 6. Be3, 6. Be2]

In addition to the most frequently employed 6. Be3 (Lines 455-456) and 6. Be2 (Line 454), White has two interesting alternatives in 6. g3 and 6. f4.

Kingside fianchetto 6. g3 is a quiet and less forced option. After the usual 6… a6 7. Bg2 Nf6 8. O-O move 8… Be7 is considered to be the best choice, since White’s position is a bit more promising after 8… Bc5 9. Nxc6 dxc6 10. Na4, 8… d6 9. Nxc6 bxc6 10. b3 Be7 11. Bb2 and 8… Nxd4 9. Qxd4 Bc5 10. Bf4. The main line goes 8… Be7 9. Re1 O-O 10. Nxc6 dxc6 11. e5 Rd8 and Black gets even chances with accurate play.

Line 6. f4 can be recommended for club level players, where after 6… a6 White has two options of about the same strength: 7. Be3 and 7. Nxc6.

[Diagram: White to Move] J. De la Villa Garcia – A. Delchev, Andorra 2002. White has a stronger move than the simple recapture of the Knight on c3. How should he continue and get a big advantage?

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[November 28, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Šolak:
Scandinavian Defense with 3… Qd6 (Schiller-Pytel Variations)

[Line 289 : 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd6]

The Schiller-Pytel Variation 3… Qd6 has become the main line of the Scandinavian Defense in the recent decades. After the common 4. d4 Nf6 White has tried a dozen of moves, though natural 5. Nf3 is still considered most promising. There are four options for Black on 5th move: the kingside fianchetto with 5… g6, rather prophylactic 5… c6, logical Bishop development 5… Bg4, and 5… a6  preparing the active response with Nc6.

Kingside fianchetto 5… g6 leads to quiet positions with a small edge for White. Apart from 6. Be2, White has an interesting possibility 6. Nb5 followed by either c2-c4 and subsequent Nb5-c3 retreat, or c2-c3 with the plan including Na3-c4.

After 5… c6 there are two replies standing out – 6. g3 and 6. Ne5. The game often gets forced character and generally tends to be in White’s favor.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black is terribly underdeveloped and White can make a decisive attack with an aggressive play. What is the best way for him to continue?

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[November 27, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Ruy Lopez, Morphy Defense – Normal Variation (Arkhangelsk Variation)

[Line 387 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Bc5]

The most principal choice for White is 7. a4, where 7… Rb8 is covered in Line 388. An option of about the same strength is 7… Bb7. White often continues with 8. d3, followed by Nc3. After 8… O-O 9. Nc3 Black has two ways to get even positions: 9… Na5 and 9… b4, though this one is a bit easier to play with White.

Move 7. d3 is a solid but not very ambitious option, and we recommend it mostly for beginners.

An alternative 7. Nxe5 leads to complex positions, where after 7… Nxe5 8. d4 Bxd4 9. Qxd4 d6, planning c7-c5,  Black has good chances of reaching the equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Ivanov – G. Garcia, USA 2000. Last Black’s move 15… Rf8-e8 was a mistake. How can White punish his opponent, and get a big edge?

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[November 26, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Three Knights Variation (incl. Romanishin Variation)

[Line 198 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Nc3 without 4… b6, 4… d5]

Three Knights Variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defense is a classical approach by the players of White. It has been a battlefield of many Kasparov – Karpov encounters during their Moscow match in 1985.

Black can immediately transpose to either Ragozin Defense with 4… d5 or Queen’s Indian Defense with 4… b6. If Black goes for 4… O-O White can opt for some other lines of Nimzo with 5. Qc2 or 5. e3, or he can also choose the highly popular 5. Bg5.

Romanishin Variation 4… c5 5. g3 often leads to highly dynamical and generally forced positions. Apart from the main move 5… cxd4, covered in our Line 199, Black has a couple of options giving him sufficient resources to equalize. Among them 5… Nc6 6. Bg2 Ne4 is considered to be the most reliable, though 5… Ne4 and 5… d5 are also viable alternatives.

[Diagram: White to Move] Capturing the pawn with Rxf6 does not seem to give White what he wants – black Queen protects the Rook on f8, and his King then manages to run away. Can you find a better way to continue from the diagrammed position?

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