[January 15, 2017] Pick of the Week by GM Boris Avrukh:
April 2014 Revisited: Chebanenko-Schallopp Slav (14. Ba5!)

After the original key game E. Bacrot – C. Balogh, Eppingen 2014 many good players have been introducing their attempts at improvements for both sides, so we have decided to update this article with recent developments in this line. The most recent game in this line is W. So – M. Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee 2017, where Black equalized effortlessly.

[Diagram: White to Move] White had major difficulties defending his pieces and pawns in D. Bocharov – D. Andreikin, Sochi (rapid) 2016, so passive approach might not have been the best approach for him. Any ideas on how to proceed as White in the diagrammed position?

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[January 14, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Catalan Defense, Open Defense – Modern Sharp Variation

[Line 241 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 dxc4 5. Bg2 Nc6]

The idea of playing 5… Nc6 is opting for a setup with an early Rb8, followed by defending the c4-pawn with b7-b5.

White has at his disposal a gambit variation 6. O-O Rb8 7. Nc3, but Black’s chances should not be worse there.

More common is 6. Qa4, where replies like 6… Nd7, 6… Bd7 or 6… Bd6 are not sufficient for an equal game. That is why the game usually continues with 6… Bb4+ 7. Bd2, and here 7… Nd5 is the best choice for Black. Here again a couple of options exist, like 8. Bxb4 and 8. Qb5, where Black should be able to equalize with accurate play.

[Diagram: White to Move] White’s centralized Knights certainly look impressive, but can they be used for something more concrete?

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[January 13, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Closed Defense – Yates Variation (Bogoljubow Variation with 10. d5)

[Line 403 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. d4 Bg4 10. d5]

After the almost exclusive continuation 10… Na5 11. Bc2, Black has at his disposal a very solid sideline 11… Qc8, preparing to undermine White’s pawn center with c7-c6. A possible follow-up is 12. h3 Bd7 13. Nbd2 c6 14. dxc6 Qxc6 with mutual play.

Move 11… c6 is played more frequently, where after 12. h3 apart from 12… Bc8, Black has an alternative in 12… Bxf3 13. Qxf3 cxd5 14. exd5 Nc4 where he can equalize with accurate play.

The main variation of this opening lines goes 10… Na5 11. Bc2 c6 12. h3 Bc8 13. dxc6 Qc7 14. Nbd2 Qxc6, where Black has no problems reaching positions with even chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] White is pressing on the kingside, and he can make big problems to his opponent with energetic play!

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[January 12, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Rubinstein Variation – Normal Variation (Gligorić System)

[Line 193 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Bd3 d5 6. Nf3 c5 7. O-O dxc4 8. Bxc4 cxd4]

This opening line deals with the Gligorić System, which is one of the most reliable choices against the Rubinstein Variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defense.

After 9. exd4 Black has a few good options at his disposal, among them 9… a6 and 9… Nbd7, but 9… b6 is more to the point, since the best place for the light-squared Bishop is on b7.

The usual replies of White against 9… b6 are 10. Bg5, 10. Re1 Bb7 11. Bd3 and 10. Qe2 Bb7 11. Rd1. The first of them is the most common one, where after 10… Bb7 some of the continuations tried by the players of White are 11. Rc1, 11. Qe2 and 11. Re1. In any case, Black has no problems reaching equality.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black can give a perpetual “check” with Rb8-d8 to the white Queen, but he can make even more than a draw! How can Black put his opponent’s Queen in big danger, and gain a tangible advantage?

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[January 11, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Slav Defense, Pin Defense

[Line 091 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bg4]

There are two usual continuations for White of about the same strength – one is immediate 5. Qb3, and the other is attacking the Bishop with 5. h3.

In the first case, the best answer is 5… Qb6, as 5… Qc7 and 5… Bxf3 allow White to get a nice edge. After the most common 5. Qb3 Qb6 6. Nc3 e6 7. Nh4 Bh5 8. h3, Black has a couple of ways to obtain positions that are more or less equal. Among them 8… Be7 9. g4 Bg6 10. Nxg6 hxg6 and 8… Qxb3 9. axb3 Na6 seem to be the easiest to handle.

In case of 5. h3, move 5… Bxf3 is the point of interest of our Line 092, while 5… Bf5 looks like an interesting possibility, especially for beginners; after 6. Nc3 e6 7. Nh4 Black has a good reply in 7… Be4, where the fact that the pawn is on h3 instead on h2, is actually in Black’s favor.

The main variation of this opening line is 5. h3 Bh5, with numerous options for both sides, but the overall evaluation is that Black should have no difficulties reaching the equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] Material is balanced in the diagrammed position, and if Black manages to castle his position would be fine. How can White initiate a strong attack and disturb the black King?

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[January 10, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Slav Defense, Moscow Variation – Main Line

[Line 273 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. e3 Nd7 8. Bd3]

Line 273 covers the main line of the Moscow Variation of the Semi-Slav Defense.

The most common choice of the players of Black is 8… dxc4 9. Bxc4 g6, followed by the kingside fianchetto and short castling. After 10. O-O Bg7 11. e4 Black can prevent e4-e5 with 11… e5, or allow it with 11… O-O 12. e5 Qe7, in either case with a decent game. As an alternative we recommend 9… Bd6 10. O-O Qe7, where Black is ready to meet 11. e4 with 11… e5, and the position is more or less balanced.

If Black delays capturing on c4 with 8… g6 9. O-O Bg7, the position usually transposes to the above mentioned line after 10. e4 dxc4 11. e5 Qe7 12. Bxc4.

Another option worth mentioning is 8… Qd8 9. O-O Be7, where White typically has a slight space advantage, while Black gets to keep his bishop pair.

[Diagram: White to Move] Z. Azmaiparashvili – A. Dreev, Neum 2000. White minor pieces Ne4 and Bf7 are under attack. How should he proceed to get a decisive advantage?

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