[November 24, 2017] Updated Opening Line from GM Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Hedgehog Variation with 7. d4

[Line 045 : 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. g3 b6 5. Bg2 Bb7 6. O-O Be7 7. d4]

Line 045 covers the main line of the Hedgehog Variation of the English Opening. After 7… cxd4, recapturing the pawn with Knight 8. Nxd4 leads to simplified positions, where Black can easily equalize.

On the other hand, 8. Qxd4 poses significantly more problems for Black: in the main 7… cxd4 8. Qxd4 d6 9. Bg5 a6 10. Bxf6! he has difficulties reaching equality. Black can get solid, yet passive positions, where he has to wait for White’s action, which may not be to everyone’s taste.

[Diagram: White to Move] This position has occurred in a number of recent computer games. How should White make use of his active pieces, and the weakness of the f5 square?

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[November 23, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Hungarian Defense; Evans Gambit; Italian Game

[Line 363 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 without 3… Nf6]

Line 363 deals with numerous classical openings, like Hungarian Defense (3… Be7)Evans Gambit (3… Bc5 4. b4) and forced lines of Italian Game (3… Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4). Two Knights Defense (3… Nf6) is covered separately in Lines 367-368, and Giouco Pianissimo (3… Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3) in our Lines 364-366.

The Hungarian Defense is rarely seen in modern grandmaster practice, and in our opinion it is suitable for the beginners. Position arising after 3… Be7 4. d4 d6 5. d5 Nb8 6. Bd3 is slightly better for White in view of his small, but stable, space advantage.

The Evans Gambit is occasionally seen even among the top players. After 3… Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Black is able to obtain even chances with 5… Be7 and 5… Ba5, while 5… Bd6 and 5… Bc5, though playable, demand precise play mostly from Black.

Black has a couple of ways to get promising positions in the classical Italian Game 3… Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4, both against 6. e5 d5 7. Bb5 Ne4 8. cxd4 and 6. cxd4 Bb4+ 7. Bd2.

[Diagram: White to Move] J. Del Pozo Hernandez – R. El Messiry, corr. 1997. White is a piece down but has a strong attack that turns out to be decisive. How should he continue and convert the attack to a full point?

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[November 22, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Boris Avrukh:
Ruy Lopez, Closed Defense – Breyer Variation (Main Line with 15. b3)

[Line 410 : 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. h3 Nb8 10. d4 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 Bb7 12. Bc2 Re8 13. Nf1 Bf8 14. Ng3 g6 15. b3]

The Breyer Variation is one of the ever popular choices on the highest level, often employed by the World Champion Magnus Carlsen.

Line 410 covers b2-b3, one of the most principal choices for White on 15th move. The idea is either to fianchetto White’s dark-squared Bishop, or to push d4-d5, followed by c3-c4. Black has several ways to equalize, and probably the safest is the main line 15… Bg7 (with the idea d6-d5), and after 16. d5 Rc8, Black has c7-c6 with mutual play.

[Diagram: White to Move] One of the critical positions in Line 410 occurs after 15… d5 16. Bg5 h6. It is necessary for players of White to know the consequences of the topical piece sacrifice 17. Bh4! g5 18. Nxg5, but if they plays precisely, their accuracy pays off – Black has lots of problems to solve!

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[November 21, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
King’s Indian Defense, Carlsbad Variation

[Line 128 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O Nc6]

Line 128 covers the Carlsbad Variation of the King’s Indian Defense, except for the positions that occur after 7. Nc3 a6 that are covered in our Line 129.

In the main line with 7. Nc3 Rb8 8. h3 a6 9. e4 b5 10. e5 most positions are very complicated, where Black usually gets enough counterplay by countering White’s central advance with a flank attack.

There are two particularly interesting sidelines for Black against 7. Nc3 – 7… Bf5 and 7… e5, in both cases giving him good practical chances.

[Diagram: Black to Move] A crazy tactical position, like the diagrammed one, demands accurate calculation. How should Black continue?

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[November 20, 2017] Updated Opening Line by GM Borki Predojević:
Slav Defense, Pin Defense with 5… Bxf3

[Line 092 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bg4 5. h3 Bxf3]

In the Exchange Variation in the Pin Defense Black usually tries to simplify the position in the early stage of the game. His plan typically includes giving away his light-squared Bishop for the opponent’s Knight, followed by placing his pawns on white squares, thus making his position tough to penetrate.

On the other hand, White mostly resorts to a slow build-up, intending to use his bishop pair in a long term battle. The other plan is to make a kingside pawn push, like in the main line – 6. Qxf3 e6 7. Nc3 Nbd7 8. Bd3 Bd6 9. cxd5 exd5 10. g4!?, which would make the position significantly more dynamic. Either way, we think that Black has sufficient resources to keep the position balanced in this line.

[Diagram: Black to Move] I. Lysyj – N. Vitiugov, Serpukhov 2008. Black has an opportunity to make use of White’s weakened kingside, but it requires a very energetic play…

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[November 19, 2017] Dusted Off: Updated Article by GM Aleksandar Kovačević:
July 2015 Revisited: Sicilian Dragon, Yugoslav Attack (10. Qe1 e6 11. Kb1)

There have been some new interesting developments in this variation, mostly coming from computer engine games. In addition to Wei Yi’s 12. Bg5, move 12. Nb3 now also seems like a promising choice for the players of White.

D. Howell – G. Jones, London 2016 is probably the most theoretically relevant over-the-board game among the new additions, while our improvement on Zurichess Grabuenden – Pawny 1.2, Internet 2016 seems to offer opening advantage to the players of White in one of the key lines in this variation.


[Diagram: Black to Move] While the pin looks unpleasant, Black has more than enough resources to completely turn the tables and seize the initiative. Any ideas?

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