[October 10, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Harrwitz Attack – Main Line with 6… Nbd7

[Line 254 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 without 7. c5]

Besides the most common 7. c5 that is covered in our Line 255, White has other possibilities of about the same strength.

Move 7. Qc2 is one of the popular alternatives, where the easiest way for Black to obtain comfortable positions is 7… c5 8. dxc5 Nxc5.

Another frequently played move is 7. a3 which is generally a useful prophylactic move that also threatens Nb5. Again, the best response from Black is 7… c5, and after 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Nxd5 exd5 10. dxc5 Nxc5 occurs the critical position of this opening line. Black wants to put the Bishop on f6, so White typically continues with 11. Be5 Bf6 12. Be2, where Black has two paths leading to roughly equal chances: 12… Bxe5 13. Nxe5 Be6 and 12… Bf5 13. O-O Be4.

[Diagram: White to Move] V. Malakhov – A. Riazantsev, Novokuznetsk 2008. Black treatens to play Nc2 or take the Bishop on e2, so White needs to act fast to make use of his better piece development. How can he seize the initiative?

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[October 9, 2016] Updated Opening Article by Boris Avrukh:
August 2014 Revisited: Queen’s Gambit Declined, Sämisch Variation

Our original key game in this line was R. Kasimdzhanov – V. Kramnik, Tromsø (ol) 2014, but many important theoretical developments have happened since, as this line has become quite a fashionable one at the top level.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position comes from a rapid game K. Piorun – I. Ivanišević, Belgrade 2016 played at a special event during the World Chess Problem Solving Championships. Black knight on d5 has created a double threat, so White has to solve it without slowing down his development. Any ideas?

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[October 08, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Sidelines & Exchange Variation

[Line 171 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 without 3… Bb4]

The main field of interest of this opening line is 3… d5, particularly the Exchange Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined – 4. cxd5 exd5. The Exchange Variation when the Knight is still on g1, was believed to be somewhat more pleasant for White, but thanks to Kramnik’s recent efforts it has again become fairly popular among the players of Black.

The most ambitious approach from White is 5. Bg5, where besides 5… Be7, which is covered in our Line 172, Black has an alternative of about the same strength – 5… c6. After the common 6. e3, Black has a few options like 6… h6 7. Bh4 Be7 or 6… Qb6, but move 6… Bf5 is the most popular one. White usually goes for 7. Qf3 Bg6 8. Bxf6 Qxf6 9. Qxf6 gxf6, and this endgame is generally considered to be solid for Black, but nonetheless it’s a bit favorable for White, as can be seen in M. Carlsen – V. Kramnik, Stavanger 2016.

Some players of Black opt for a line similar to the Semi-Tarrasch: 3… d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5, where White should be able to obtain a small edge with 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 c5 7. Rb1.

[Diagram: White to Move] E. Bareev – Z. Hracek, Pardubice 1994. Bareev missed the opportunity to gain a strong attack with a typical breakthrough. What is the best way for White to continue in the diagrammed position?

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[October 07, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Slav Defense – Chebanenko Variation with 5… e6

[Line 070 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 a6 5. Qc2 e6]

By choosing 5… e6, Black intends to continue with c6-c5, trying to make use of the fact that the white Queen on c2 is slightly misplaced.

If White proceeds with 6. c5 Black gets good prospects with 6… Nbd7, preparing either b7-b6 or e6-e5.

White usually plays 6. Nf3, where Black has two plans of about the same strength: one is 6… Nbd7, followed by dxc4 and c5, and the other plan is immediate 6… c5. After 6… c5 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Be2 Nc6 players of White most frequently opt for either 9. Ne5 or 9. O-O Be6 10. Rd1.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has sacrificed a piece for attack and needs to find very precise moves to obtain a decisive advantage. How can White win the game?

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[October 06, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Czech Pirc Defense, Anti-Philidor & Lion’s Jaw

[Line 294 : 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6]

Lion’s Jaw (3. f3) is one of the decent ways to avoid the Philidor Defense as White. The main reaction from Black is 3… e5 followed by 4. d5 Be7. The ensuing positions resemble the Saemisch Variation of the King’s Indian Defense, with the important difference that the dark-squared Bishop is placed here on e7, and not on g7. White has, in view of his spatial advantage, a generally more pleasant position, but Black is not without counterplay.

After 3. Nc3 two most common choices for the players of Black are Philidor Defense (3… e5) and Pirc Defense (3… g6), covered in or Lines 295-300.

Czech Pirc Defense (3. Nc3 c6) allows White to gain a strong pawn center with 4. f4, where Black’s main plan is 4… Qa5, followed by e7-e5. White has two paths to obtain a small, but pleasant advantage: 5. Bd3 and 5. e5.

If Black wants to enter the Philidor Defense via another move order, i. e. 3. Nc3 Nbd7 with the idea e7-e5, White has at his disposal a promising alternative to 4. Nf3 in 4. f4.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black is ready to play Nc4, and White has to find how to stop his opponent’s plan. What is the best solution for him?

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[October 05, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Catalan Defense, Closed Variation; Bogo-Indian/Catalan Hybrid

[Line 230 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 without 4… dxc4, 4… Be7]

Line 230 deals with introductory lines of the Catalan Defense, whereas the variation with 4… dxc4 can be found in Lines 239-242 and 4… Be7 in Lines 235-238.

Another Black’s frequent choice is 4… Bb4+, where besides the most common reply 5. Bd2, White has at his disposal an interesting gambit line starting with 5. Nc3.

Variation arising after 4… Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 is also very popular, and is covered in our Lines 231-234.

Sideline 4… Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bd6 is also a solid alternative, which we recommend to club level players.

In the main focus of this opening line is 4… Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bxd2+, where White has two responses: 6. Qxd2 and 6. Nbxd2. After trading the dark-squared Bishops, White has somewhat better development, but Black has good chances to maintain the balance.

[Diagram: White to Move] Though Black’s position is without obvious weaknesses, his King is poorly protected, which allows White to obtain a strong attack. How should he continue?

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