[August 16, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Harrwitz Attack – Main Line with 8. a3

[Line 257 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. a3]

Line 257 deals with the main variation of the Harrwitz Attack with 6… c5. Black’s best reaction on 8th move is 8… Nc6, and here White has two interesting alternatives to the main 9. Qc2: one is 9. Rc1, often leading to sharp positions, and the other is, the not so ambitious, 9. Be2 dxc4 10. Bxc4.

Against 9. Qc2 Black has tried various moves. Carlsen tested 9… Re8 in his World Championship Match against Anand in 2014, where Anand showed an excellent preparation and made a pleasant opening advantage with 10. Bg5. From other possibilities, neither 9… Be7 nor 9… Bd7 seem to give Black adequate play.

The only Black’s 9th move that leads to balanced positions is 9… Qa5, and now White has a few moves of approximately same strength: 10. O-O-O, 10. Nd2 and 10. Rd1.

[Diagram: White to Move] After White moves the Bishop from c4, Black is counting on quick counterplay with b5-b4. How should White react and gain a decisive edge?

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[August 15, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Tarrasch Defense

[Line 063 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 without 3… dxc4, 3… c6, 3… Nf6]

Various Black’s third move choices are covered in other opening lines, and the topic of this line is theTarrasch Defense (3… c5). White’s usual reaction is 4. cxd5, and after 4… exd5 either 5. Nc3 with g2-g3, Bg2 and O-O, or immediate 5. g3, which often transposes to the same position.

White also has an interesting possibility to play 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. dxc5, where neither 6… Bxc5 nor 6… d4 7. Na4 Bxc5 give Black full equality.

After 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. g3 Nf6 7. Bg2 Be7 8. O-O O-O occurs the main tabiya of the Tarrasch Defense. For club level players we recommend the following sideline: 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. a3, with good prospects for White.

The main alternative is 9. Bg5, keeping the tension on the board, where Black has to choose among 9… cxd4, 9… c4 and 9… Be6. Either way, White has sufficient resources to claim the opening advantage.

[Diagram: White to Move] F. Marshall – Ed. Lasker, USA 1923. Black King is still in the center, and Marshall has made a full use of that fact and obtained a decisive attack. Can you see the right path to winning as White?

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[August 14, 2016] Updated Opening Article by GM Borki Predojević:
February 2016 Revisited: Italian Game, Giuoco Pianissimo with 8. a4!?

This line is so hot that we had to update it just two weeks after the previous update. The most recent theoretically important game in this line is V. Anand – W. So, Saint Louis 2016, but this variation would be incomplete without multiple contributions from our trusty silicon friends. Let’ take a look:

[Diagram: Black to Move] Toltec 2 – Stockfish 310316, Internet (blitz) 2016. In the aforementioned line Black has to use his bishop pair to create some compensation for his opponent’s extra pawn. Exchanging pieces is thus usually in White’s favor, so Black has to quickly do something in the diagrammed position, before his opponent succeeds in his plan. Sacrificing bishop on h2 seems tempting, but after Kh1 there are too many Black pieces left hanging. Is that the right course of action for Black, or he should try something else? 

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[August 13, 2016] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Four Knights Variation – Kingside Fianchetto with 4… Bb4

[Line 017 : 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 Bb4]

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

Kingside Fianchetto with 4… Bb4 in the Four Knights Variation was the battlefield of many games of two memorable duels – between Karpov and Kortchnoi in the ’70s and between Karpov and Kasparov in the ’80s.

Beside the main 5. Bg2, White has at his disposal another move of equivalent strength – 5. Nd5, where Black has a choice of his own among the following: 5… Bc5, 5… e4, 5… Be7 and 5… a5.

After 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O Black has three notable options: 6… d6, 6… Bxc3 and 6… e4.

Against the solid 6… d6 White usually continues with 7. d3 or 7. Nd5. In the line 6… e4 7. Ng5 Bxc3 8. bxc3 Re8 9. f3 e3 there is typically a very tense struggle, while after 6… Bxc3 7. bxc3 Re8 8. d3 e4 9. Nd4 exd3 10. exd3 Nxd4 11. cxd4 d5 occurs an original position, where White has a bishop pair, and Black relies on his slightly better pawn structure.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has sacrificed a Knight and has a promising attack. If he continues with 16. Qh5, Black has a strong response in 16… Qg4. How can White neutralize his opponent’s plan and complete a decisive maneuver?

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[August 12, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Winawer Variation with 7. Qg4 (incl. Poisoned Pawn Variation)

[Line 346 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 7. Qg4]

The Winawer Variation with 7. Qg4 is probably the sharpest line in the entire French Defense. Black has plenty of possibilities on 7th move, but only two of them lead to more or less balanced positions – 7… O-O and the Poisoned Pawn Variation, which can occur via two different move orders: 7… Qc7 8. Qxg7 Rg8 9. Qxh7 cxd4 or 7… cxd4 8. Qxg7 Rg8 9. Qxh7 Qc7.

When Black castles, White usually continues with 8. Bd3 where Black, again, has two viable choices – the highly complicated 8… Nbc6, and the less common alternative 8… f5, which we recommend for club level players.

In the Poisoned Pawn Variation, beside the main move 10. Ne2, Black has to be well prepared for the Euwe Variation (10. Kd1), too.

As a reaction to 10. Ne2 Black can try 10… dxc3, which gives him an extra option against 11. f4 – apart from the transposition with 11… Nbc6 to the 10… Nbc6 11. f4 dxc3 line, he can also opt for 11… Bd7 12. Qd3 Nf5, with the idea to meet 13. Nxc3 with 13… Na6. For those following the main theoretical discussions, we recommend 10. Ne2 Nbc6 11. f4 dxc3 12. Qd3 Bd7 13. Nxc3 a6, with very complex double-edged positions.

[Diagram: White to Move] J. Myrene – T. Franzen, corr. 2005.  As a reaction to 22. Qf6, Black has prepared 22… Nxh6 as his response. Is there a flaw in Black’s calculation?

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[August 11, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Open Slav Defense, Czech Defense without 6. Ne5 (incl. Bled Attack)

[Line 106 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 without 6. Ne5]

The Czech Defense (5… Bf5) is considered to be the critical variation of the Open Slav. Apart from the Krause Attack (6. Ne5), which is covered in our Lines 109-111, White has another two major possibilities: the Dutch Variation (6. e3) and the Bled Attack (6. Nh4).

As reaction to the Bled Attack, Black has a few decent choices:

6… Bg4 7. h3 Bh5 8. g4 Bg6 is the most ambitious reply, often leading to dynamic positions, like in the main line: 9. Nxg6 hxg6 10. e4 e5 11. Bc4 exd4 12. e5 Bb4.

The most solid continuation is 6… e6 7. Nxf5 exf5 8. e3 Bd6 9. Bxc4 O-O. Though White has a bishop pair and better pawn structure, Black has full control of central squares.

Besides 6… Bg4 and 6… e6, Black has two more promising lines: 6… Bd7 and 6… Bc8.

The Dutch Variation is an old main line of the Open Slav. After 6. e3 e6 7. Bxc4 Bb4 8. O-O, the main line 8… Nbd7 is dealt with in our Lines 107-108, and in the focus of this line is a viable alternative 8… O-O. White usually continues with 9. Nh4 Bg4 10. f3 Bh5 11. g4 or 9. Qe2 Bg6 10. Ne5 Nbd7 11. Nxg6 hxg6, and in either case Black should equalize without big efforts.

[Diagram: White to Move] E. Bacrot – E. Bareev, Moscow 2010. If Black manages to trade the dark-squared bishops, he will get a satisfactory position. How can White refute his opponent’s plan?

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