[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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[January 09, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Sicilian Defense, Richter-Rauzer Variation – Main Line with 7… Be7 8. O-O-O O-O

[Line 474 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O]

The Richter-Rauzer Variation with an early short castling is a viable choice for Black, though it requires precise knowledge of the topical lines. There are two usual plans for White – one is connected with f2-f4 and e4-e5, and the other with f2-f3 and advance on the kingside.

After 9. f4 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 Qa5, White again has a couple of options of about the same strength – 11. Bc4, 11. e5 and 11. Kb1, where Black is able to equalize with accurate play.

Move 9. f3 often leads to double-edged positions with both sides attacking the opponent’s King, like in the line 9… a6 10. h4 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 b5.

Less popular, though equally fine continuation for White, is 9. Nb3, exerting the pressure on the d6-pawn.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black’s King is poorly defended, as most of his pieces are on the opposite side of the board. How can White make use of it to get a decisive attack?

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[January 8, 2017] Trusted: Opening Survey by GM Slaviša Brenjo
Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense with 6… d5!? (9. Nbd2)

Playing an early d5 in the Open Games has become something of a trend at the highest level: that central response against the Italian Game is now a dominant choice of the players of Black, and it’s also gaining traction in the Berlin Defense, where it has to be followed by the recapture on d5 with the queen instead of the knight.

In addition to two high-profile games (A. Grischuk – P. Eljanov, Novi Sad 2016 and F. Caruana – W. So, London 2016) our examination of this approach will also include a number of engine games played in the past 2-3 years, which will surely broaden our understanding of this soon-to-be-fashionable line.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black’s lack of piece coordination and his awkwardly placed Knight on h3 require immediate attention, or White will play Nc5 with devastating consequences. Any ideas?

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[January 06, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Scheveningen Variation without 6. g4

[Line 467 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 without 6. g4]

Apart from the very promising Keres Attack (6. g4), covered in Line 468, White has a couple of reasonably interesting possibilities as well.

After 6. Be3, the best option for Black is transposing to the English Attack of the Najdorf Defense with 6… a6. In case of the alternative 6… Nc6, White is able to get better chances with 7. f3 Be7 8. Qd2.

The idea of 6. f4 is Qf3, Be3 and O-O-O, though Black is doing fine after any of the following moves: 6… a6, 6… Be7 and 6… Nc6.

For those preferring a more positional approach, we recommend either 6. Be2 with transposition to the Classical Scheveningen, or 6. g3, which leads to the Fianchetto Variation of either Najdorf or Classical Sicilian Defense.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black pieces have a terrible coordination, and the final blow from White is to be expected!

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