[January 18, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Ruy Lopez, Open Variation – Bernstein Variation (incl. Karpov Gambit)

[Line 390 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. Nbd2]

The Bernstein Variation, covered in our Line 390, was a battlefield of important games during three World Championship matches: two matches between Karpov and Korchnoi (Baguio City 1978 and Merano 1981), and Kasparov – Anand, New York 1995.

The main choice of Black is 9… Nc5, where the usual reply is 10. c3. Black has in 10… d4 an interesting alternative to the more common 10… Be7. One of the possible replies to 10… d4 is a quiet 11. Bxe6 Nxe6 12. cxd4, and the other is the sharp Karpov Gambit (11. Ng5).

Move 10… Be7 has became highly popular among top-level players in the recent years – W. So, F. Caruana and Ding Liren play it regularly with Black pieces. The critical position arises after 10… Be7 11. Bc2 d4 12. Nb3 d3, where White can decide between an endgame 13. Nxc5 dxc2 14. Qxd8+ Rxd8 15. Nxe6 fxe6 16. Be3 Rd5, and the complex 13. Bb1 Nxb3 14. axb3 Bf5. In both cases Black has resources to get equal positions.

In case of 9… Bc5, White gets a preferable endgame with 10. Nxe4 dxe4 11. Ng5 Qxd1 12. Rxd1.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position appeared in a couple of strong games, e.g. in P. Svidler – V. Anand, Dos Hermanas 1999, among others. How can White obtain a big advantage?

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[January 17, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Old & Alekhine Variations

[Line 058 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 without 3. e4]

Apart from the most direct approach 3. e4, covered in our Lines 059 & 060, White has two fairly popular options: 3. Nf3 and 3. e3.

After the Knight development with 3. Nf3, Black can transpose to Line 080 with 3… Nf6, or choose between other viable possibilities – 3… e6 and the Alekhine Variation (3… a6).

In case of the solid Old Variation (3. e3) Black has, besides the calm 3… Nf6 and 3… e6, a more concrete option in 3… e5, leading to an isolated d-pawn for White after 4. Bxc4 exd4 5. exd4.

[Diagram: White to Move] S. Pujos – Y. Afek, France 2003. Black’s last move was the careless 10… Ra8-d8, missing the strong reply leading to a winning position for his opponent. How should White continue and get an overwhelming edge?

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[January 16, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Exchange Variation with 8. Bd3

[Line 268 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. Bg5 Nbd7 6. cxd5 exd5 7. e3 Be7 8. Bd3]

Line 268 deals with the main line of the Exchange Variation in the Queen’s Gambit Declined.

The most common Black’s choice is 8… O-O, followed by Re8 and Nf8. After the usual 9. Qc2 Re8 10. O-O Nf8 White has a couple of well-investigated continuations. Prophylactic 11. h3 prevents Black from placing a Knight or a Bishop to g4, and also in some cases provides a square h2 for the Bishop retreat. The idea of 11. Rae1 is often connected with the e3-e4 breakthrough, while 11. Rab1 prepares a minority attack on the queenside with b2-b4-b5.

Black has at his disposal two possible sidelines. By playing 8… Ne4, Black often trades a pair of minor pieces in the early stage of the game.

The maneuver 8… Nf8 is accompanied by either Ne6 or Ng6, and later short castling, with Black’s good chances to equalize.

[Diagram: White to Move] If White takes the Rook on e4 the material will be roughly balanced, but White stays without an important piece for his attack. On the other hand, Black would like to activate the Knight from b6 to d7 and later to f6, taking part in the defense of the black King. So, what do you think is the best way to proceed as White?

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[January 15, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Reti Opening – King’s Indian Attack with 2… g6; Polish Defense

[Line 025 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 without 2. c4, 2. d4]

Since move 2. d4 is covered in our Line o76, and 2. c4 in Line 029, the main point of interest of this opening line is the Reti Opening 2. g3.

A type of the Polish Defense occurring after 2. g3 b5 is an unorthodox, yet perfectly viable variation. White has played g2-g3, and is practically obliged to proceed at some point with Bg2; hence, the exposed b5-pawn can not be attacked as easily as in the line 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b5.

After the more common 2… b6, White can again transpose to the English opening with 3. c4 or to the Queen’s Pawn game with 3. d4. The game usually continues 3. Bg2 Bb7 4. O-O e6 5. d3, followed either by c2-c4, or Nbd2 with e2-e4.

Black has many alternative setups, including a kingside fianchetto with 2… g6, while 2… d5 (Lines 026-028) leads to the main line of the Reti Opening.

We recommend 2. b3 for beginners. White’s plan includes Bb2, e2-e3 and c2-c4, with a small amount of theoretically important positions.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White’s last moves was 9. Bc3, intending to recapture with 10. Qxd2 on the next move, also defending the d4-pawn. If Black plays 9… Qb6, White will play another intermediate move 10. dxc5. So, what should Black do in the diagrammed position?

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[January 14, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation (incl. Zagreb Variation)

[Line 478 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 with 6. g3, 6. f3]

Two substantially different variations are the topic of our Line 478: sharp 6. f3 often leading to the English Attack, and the strategical Zagreb Variation (6. g3).

Black can continue after 6. f3 either with 6… e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Be3 (Line 497) or 6… e6 (Line 493), in both cases transposing to lines of the English Attack. There is also an independent line 6… Qb6, preventing White from playing Be3. White usually replies with either 7. g4 or 7. Nb3, and though this position is more sensitive to play with black pieces, Black is typically able to get a roughly equal game.

As a response to 6. g3 Black most frequently chooses one of the following options: 6… e5, 6… e6 and 6… g6. In the first case moves 7. Nb3 and 7. Nde2 are extensively investigated.

There is also nothing wrong with Black’s position after 6… e6 7. Bg2 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Be3 Qc7, where White’s plan typically involves a pawn advance on the kingside, while Black creates counterplay on the opposite side of the board.

[Diagram: Black to Move] V Anand – A. Grischuk, Mainz (rapid) 2005. Black has tactical means to get an advantage. How would you proceed?

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[January 13, 2019] Trusted: Opening Survey by GM Aleksandar Kovačević
Sicilian Najdorf, English Attack (15… Bf5)

More than a week ago another email came from our dear user Mick “from Crete”, as he likes to put it. His emails are full of goodies, as Correspondence players have a very refined taste when it comes to
opening repertoire choices, and Mick is certainly no exception to that rule.

His latest area of interest has been one of the most critical lines in what we consider the most topical line in modern opening theory – the English Attack with opposite castling. He noticed that a very good move was missing in our CHOPIN Line 500, so we are going to correct that omission, and investigate
that option in this article.

[Diagram: White to Move] This position stems from H. Chomicki – S. Lucki, corr. 2013. Black will soon create an unpleasant pressure against the backward f3-pawn, which proved too much for White even in a correspondence game. This was probably the last chance for White to play accurately and keep the position roughly equal. Can you see the hidden idea?

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