[July 22, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense with 2. Nf3, incl. O’Kelly & Nimzowitsch Variations and Hyperaccelerated Dragon

[Line 421 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 without 2… d6, 2… e6, 2… Nc6]

Line 421 covers Black’s fourth move sidelines, while main systems can be found in the following lines: 2… d6 is available in our Lines 457-500, 2… e6 in Lines 440-456 and 2… Nc6 in Lines 422-439.

Hyperaccelerated Dragon (2… g6) is often employed as a way to avoid the Rossolimo Variation of the Sicilian Defense. Apart from transposing to the Marozy Bind with 3. c4 Bg7 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nc6, White can also choose among several setups:

Against 3. c3 Black can respond actively with 3… d5 4. exd5 Qxd5, and the arising position is typical of the Alapin Variation setups.

The most ambitious system for White is 3. d4, where 3… Bg7 is not advisable in view of 4. dxc5 Qa5+ 5. c3 Qxc5 6. Na3; since Black Queen is exposed, white pieces quickly become active, i. e. Be3, and Nb5 is coming. Black’s best choice is 3… cxd4 4. Qxd4 Nf6 5. e5 Nc6 6. Qa4 Nd5, and after several accurate moves he should be able to equalize.

From other sidelines that could be found in this opening line, particularly worth mentioning are O’Kelly (2… a6) and Nimzowitsch Variations (2… Nf6). Though interesting as opening surprise weapons, White can typically get an upper hand with precise play.

[Diagram: White to Move] Coordination of black pieces is evidently poor, but the Knight on c7 and the b2-pawn are under attack. How should White proceed?

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[July 21, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
King’s Indian Defense, Ukrainian Defense & Donner Variation

[Line 162 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O without 7… Nc6, 7… Na6, 7… Nbd7]

Line 162 deals with various sidelines of the Orthodox Variation of the King’s Indian Defense. The most frequent moves are covered in separate lines, i. e. 7… Nc6 in Lines 166-169, 7… Na6 in Lines 164-165 and 7… Nbd7 in Line 163.

Ukrainian Defense (7… a5) is rarely seen nowadays, since White has a few paths to reach a small but lasting edge.

Donner Variation (7… c6) is an unambitious, yet flexible, system. Black typically settles with a slightly passive position, but manages to avoids force lines that commonly occur in other variations.

Among the variations covered here, 7… exd4 8. Nxd4 Re8 9. f3 Nc6 has the best reputation for Black. Though White’s chances are generally slightly preferable, well-prepared players of Black should be able to reach positions that are practically equal.

[Diagram: Black to Move] It seems like Black can hardly avoid losing a pawn, but there is an attractive resource that leaves him with sufficient compensation. What should he do?

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[July 20, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Catalan Defense, Closed Variation – Main Line with 8. Bf4

[Line 232 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O c6 8. Bf4]

In this line Black has two reasonable alternatives to main move 8… Nbd7 – 8… b6 and 8… dxc4.

With 8… b6, typically followed by Ba6, Black wants to exert pressure on the c4-pawn. The game could continue 8… b6 9. Nc3 Ba6 10. cxd5 cxd5 11. Rc1 Bb7 12. Ne5 Nbd7, when Black has good chances to equalize. After 8… dxc4 9. Ne5 Nd5 10. Nxc4 c5 he should also be able to get sufficient counterplay.

8… Nbd7 keeps the tension, leaving both sides with several decent options. While 9. Qc2 is covered in our Lines 233 and 234, Line 232 covers two remaining notable lines: the solid 9. Qb3, and the more ambitious 9. Nc3. Either way, Black should not encounter major problems in these variations.

[Diagram: White to Move] R. Ponomariov – V. Topalov, Sofia 2005. Black’s last move was Nb8-c6, which allows his opponent a small tactical blow. How can White secure a long-term advantage?

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[July 19, 2016] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Anglo-Indian Defense

[Line 029 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 without 2… e6, 2… g6, 2… c5]

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.

Line 029 deals with Black’s various second move choices, excluding 2… e6 (Lines 040-045), 2… g6 (Lines 036-039) and 2… c5 (Lines 030-035).

The main focus of this line is when Black makes a Classical Queen’s Indian setup, while White persistently avoids playing d2-d4 as long as possible.

After 2… b6 3. g3 Bb7 4. Bg2 e6 5. O-O Be7 White has several possibilities. Among them three setups deserve serious attention: 6. b3 O-O 7. Bb2 d5 8. e3 and 6. Nc3 O-O 7. b3 d5 8. Bb2 are both suitable for club level players, while 6. Nc3 O-O 7. Re1 is our recommendation for advanced players.

[Diagram: White to Move] Z. Ribli – R. Vaganian, London 1984. Black’s flank strategy left the center of the board to his opponent. What is the best way for White to make use of that fact?

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[July 18, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
French Defense, Normal Variation – Burn Variation

[Line 341 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxe4]

After 5. Nxe4 Nbd7 this line transposes to our Lines 333-334, whereas Line 341 covers the position that arises after 5…. Be7 6. Bxf6 gxf6, while the other capture (6… Bxf6) is covered in our Line 342.

White’s most frequent choice is 7. Nf3, and here 7… a6 with the idea b7-b5 allows White to get a favorable position after 8. c4 f5 9. Nc3.

Black’s best option is 7… f5, with the idea to respond to Ned2 or Ng3 with c7-c5. White’s most promising setup probably includes 8. Nc3, though 8… a6 followed by b7-b5-b4 and Bb7 should give his opponent quite decent counterplay. White could continue with 9. Qe2 b5 10. O-O-O b4 11. Na4 Qd5, and though Black has a few weaknesses, his bishop pair should provide reasonable compensation.

[Diagram: White to Move] L. Bruzón Batista – J. Nogueiras Santiago, Havana 2006. Black Queen is not actually much of a threat, and his King is poorly defended. How can White make use of his advantages and launch a decisive attack?

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[July 17, 2016] Updated Opening Article by GM Boris Avrukh:
March 2015 Revisited: Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation with 7. Qf3 Bd6

The updated version of this article brings several interesting attempts by the players of White. The most serious one comes from a high-profile game between World No. 2 & 3, where Black has to tread carefully to keep the balance: V. Kramnik  – F. Caruana, Dortmund 2016.

[Diagram: Black to Move] G. Jones – P. Garbett, Auckland 2016. The diagrammed position shows a familiar scenario with a very important detail that makes all the difference – after g3 White can no longer move his queen to that square, and his most dangerous piece is left unprotected in some variations. Let’s see what Black can do about it 😉

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