[May 16, 2016] Updated Opening Line by GM Borki Predojević:
Slav Defense, Schallopp Defense with 7. Nxg6

[Line 097 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nh4 Bg6 7. Nxg6]

Line 097 deals with the main line of the Schallopp Defense. Most positions in this line are quite typical of the Slav Defense: White gets a bishop pair, but Black’s position remains very solid. After 7… hxg6, White has a plethora of possibilities.

8. g3 Nbd7 9. a3 with the next b2-b3 is one of our recommendations to advanced players; 8. Qb3, followed by g3 and Bg2 is another interesting plan.

For club level players we suggest 8. Rb1, with the idea to launch a queenside advance c4-c5 and b2-b4-b5, an idea introduced at the high level by Topalov in his World Championship match against Kramnik.

[Diagram: Black to Move] I. Khairullin – V. Artemiev, Khanty-Mansiysk 2013. Young Artemiev missed a chance to get a lasting advantage. What should Black play?

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[May 15, 2016] Updated Opening Article by GM Dragan Paunović:
June 2014 Revisited: English Opening, Flohr-Mikenas-Carls Variation

In the original article our featured game was Grischuk’s brilliant win against Aronian in Stavanger two years ago. In the meantime, quite a few interesting top-level games have been played, the most recent being the opener of the blitz mini-match between Nakamura and Caruana.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White has a spatial advantage and an obvious idea to push his g-pawn forward. How can Black counter this plan?

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[May 14, 2016] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
Caro-Kann Defense, Accelerated Panov

[Line 302 : 1. e4 c6 2. c4]

The Accelerated Panov arises from the Caro-Kann Defense about as often as from the English Opening, i. e. after 1. c4 c6 2. e4.

Black’s best response is 2…d5 and after 3. exd5 cxd5 4. cxd5 Nf6 White gets a position with an isolated d-pawn. White has two fundamentally different plans – he can either try to keep the d5-pawn with 5. Bb5+ or 5. Qa4+, or opt to simply develop his pieces with 5. Nc3 Nxd5 6. Nf3. However, regardless of White’s choice, in our opinion Black has enough resources to equalize.

[Diagram: Black to Move] If Black captures on b1, White can respond with 18. Bh6 and the position is more or less balanced. However, Black has a tactical shot 17… Nxd4!! but the ensuing complications are still very hard to sort out. Try to determine what happens after the powerful blow.

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[May 13, 2016] Updated Opening Line by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
King’s Indian Defense, Carlsbad Variation – Panno Variation

[Line 129 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O Nc6 7. Nc3 a6]

Line 129 covers the main line of the Carslbad Variation of the King’s Indian Defense – the Panno Variation, i.e. 7… a6, with the idea Rb8 and b7-b5.

White literally has a dozen interesting possibilities, all of them leading to complex positions with mutual chances.

Immediate 8. d5 followed by Nd2, Rb1 and b3 seems like a good choice for club level players.

8. Bf4 followed by Rc1 is a fashionable choice among the players from the elite  2700+ club, like in M. Carlsen – H. Nakamura, Saint Louis 2013 game, or in the more recent Bu Xiangzhi – Ding Liren, Danzhou 2014.

Prophylactic 8. h3 is another frequently played line, and 9. b3 is, in our opinion, the most promising line for White. After 9. b3 Rb8, White usually continues either with 10. Bb2 or 10. Nd5.

[Diagram: White to Move] Rook on a1 is under attack, as well as the c4-pawn, so it looks like Black will be able to get back the material with a reasonably good position. However, White has an unexpected reaction that secures him a long-term advantage!

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[May 12, 2016] Updated Opening Line by GM Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Modern Variation – Moscow Variation with 3… Nc6

[Line 459 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nc6]

Covering with the Knight (3… Nc6) is a popular reaction to the Moscow Variation  (3. Bb5+), and this position is also often achieved via a slightly different move order – 2… Nc6 3. Bb5 d6.

There are two main plans for White – either to immediately take the knight 4. Bxc6+ bxc6, with a rather static position, better pawn structure for White and a bishop pair for Black, or to play like in Ruy Lopez, i. e. to castle followed by Re1. After 4. O-O Bd7 5. Re1 Nf6 move 6. c3 is covered in our Line 460, so Line 459 deals with other reactions from White, but mostly with the flexible 6. h3. After 6… e6 7. c3 Black has a few good ways to continue, but 7… Ne5 seems to be the easiest path to equalization.

[Diagram: White to Move] S. Rublevsky – E. Sveshnikov, Herceg Novi 1999. Black is behind in development and White can get a strong initiative with energetic play. Rublevsky found the best way to do it, so can you do it, too?

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[May 11, 2016] Updated Opening Line by GM Borki Predojević:
Slav Defense, Alapin Variation – Soultanbeieff Variation with 6. e3

[Line 103 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 e6 6. e3]

Soultanbeieff Variation is a solid choice for the players of Black when they want to avoid well-examined lines of the Slav Defense, which is often met with 6. e3 as the most common continuation for White.

White often gets an isolated pawn on d4, like in the main 6… c5 7. Bc4 Nc6 8. O-O cxd4 9. exd4, though 9. Nxd4 is definitely an interesting alternative for White.

Both of these lines require accurate play from Black, but if he reacts properly his position should be fine.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Grischuk – S. Karjakin, Nice (rapid) 2010. When attacking, every tempo is priceless. Grischuk missed the right moment to get a strong attack with a piece sacrifice. What is the best way to continue as White?

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