[December 04, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
English Opening, The Stein Attack

[Line 039 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Qa4+]

The Stein Attack starts with an early queen check, where Black has two main choices: 5… Nc6 and 5… Bd7.

The first of them often leads to simplifications after 6. Ne5 Qd6 7. Nxc6 Qxc6 8. Qxc6+ bxc6, where Black should achieve comfortable positions.

The second of them usually continues with 6. Qb3 Nc6 7. d4 Bg7 8. e4 Bg4 ,which typically leads to complications, like in the main line with 9. Bb5+ c6 10. Ng5.

[Diagram: White to Move] Bishop sacrifice on g5 looks very tempting, but it’s necessary to play accurately to get a serious advantage.

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[December 03, 2017] Updated Opening Article by GM Boris Avrukh:
December 2016 Revisited: Grünfeld Defense, Russian Variation with 7… Be6 8. Qd3

In the original article our game of the week was a clash between two Grünfeld Defense titans of the modern era: P. Svidler – Wei Yi, Baku (m/3) 2015, where we suggested an interesting improvement for Black. We have now updated the survey with several theoretically important over-the-board games, but our verdict basically remains the same: Black has reasonable counterplay, yet it typically requires very accurate responses to various opponent’s plans.  

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position comes from a recent game G. Flear – Li Chao, Chartres 2017. Everything seems normal, yet White has an excellent opportunity to disrupt Black’s defensive coordination. Any thoughts?

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[December 02, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Vadim Zvjaginsev:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Classical Variation – Noa Variation with 5. cxd5

[Line 176 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. cxd5]

Line 176 covers the Noa Variation of the Nimzo-Indian with 5. cxd5 exd5, while our Line 177 deals with 5… Qxd5, which is another popular continuation.

After 5… exd5 White usually develops his dark-squared Bishop to g5, after which Black typically reacts with h6 and c5, followed by g5, Ne4 and Qa5. Black willingly weakens his kingside to get compensation in active piece play, which makes this line well-suited for tactically-minded players. That being said, the critical position occurs after 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 c5 8. dxc5 g5 9. Bg3 Ne4 10. e3 Qa5 11. Nge2 Bf5, and it demands precise play from both sides.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White King is already in a precarious position, so Black only needs to find a good way to use his rooks and launch the decisive attack.

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[December 01, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Old Sicilian – Kalashnikov Variation (incl. La Bourdonnais Variation)

[Line 429 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e5]

Apart from the Kalashnikov Variation, Line 429 covers some rare lines such as the La Bourdonnais Variation – 5. Nb5 a6, where White should have several pretty straightforward paths to reasonable advantage.

After 5. Nb5 d6 White can choose between the positional 6. c4, which typically leads to slightly more pleasant positions for White, or the more ambitious 6. N1c3, where besides a transposition to the Lasker Variation after 6… Nf6 (Line 434), Black can continue with 6… a6 7. Na3 and than choose one of the two popular lines: 7… b5 or 7… Be7.

[Diagram: White to Move] One of the critical positions in the 7… Be7 variation, where White is facing a choice to either capture the bishop on g3, or refrain from doing so. Which of the two should be preferred?

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[November 30, 2017] Updated Opening Line from GM Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Closed Sicilian Reversed – Kingside Fianchettos

[Line 008 : 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. d3]

Line 008 covers the main variation of the Closed Sicilian Reversed, where Black has ample opportunities to get satisfactory positions.

Our main line here is 5… d6 6. Rb1 a5 7. a3 Nf6 8. Nf3 O-O 9. O-O Re8, though there are other interesting variations as well, like 5… f5, followed by Nf6 and O-O, or a similar plan with 7… f5 8. Nf3 Nf6.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White’s position looks normal, yet after an unexpected move, Black gets some serious advantage.

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[November 29, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Aleksandar Kovačević:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Nimzowitsch Variation with 5. Qc2

[Line 220 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. Qc2]

Line 220 deals with the very popular 5. Qc2, which often leads to sharp gambit lines. After 5… Bb7, White is practically forced to go for 6. Bg2 c5 7. d5. Very interesting positions occur, demanding precise knowledge of many nuances along the way. That being said, if White is not deeply prepared, he should by all means avoid 5. Qc2. Black also has a highly playable alternative in 5… Bb4+, which typically leads to somewhat passive, but ultimately very solid positions.

[Diagram: White to Move] Many White pieces are close to Black’s King, so everything is set for a decisive attack!

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