[August 25, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
King’s Indian Defense, Debrecen Defense

[Line 130 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O Nbd7]

The Debrecen Variation (6… Nbd7) is one of the most popular lines of the King’s Indian Fianchetto. Black willingly surrenders the space, and plans to proceed with e7-e5, followed by either flexible c7-c6, or exd4 with Re8, pressing the e4-square. White’s position is generally a bit more pleasant, but Black should be able to obtain more or less satisfactory play.

The game usually continues 7. Nc3 e5 8. e4 where Black has two viable options: 8… c6 and 8… exd4 9. Nxd4 Re8.

In the first case, after 8… c6 9. h3 the most active way for Black to proceed is 9… Qb6, fighting against Be3 while also aiming at the d4-pawn. Against all three of the most common replies: 10. Re1, 10. c5 and 10. d5 Black needs to have exact knowledge of the consequences.

After 8… exd4 9. Nxd4 Re8 the most typical plan for Black is Nc5, followed by either a7-a5-a4, Bd7 with Qc8, or the Nfd7-e5 maneuver. The arising positions are generally easier to play with White, though we think that Black should be fine nonetheless.

[Diagram: White to Move] D. Šolak – M. Mchedlishvili, Konya 2011. If White takes the exchange on e5 his opponent will get a sufficient compensation due to an excellent piece play. However, there is a better way for White to handle the diagrammed position – can you see how?

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[August 24, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Italian Game, Giouco Pianissimo with 5… a6

[Line 365 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 a6]

The idea of 5… a6 is two make some extra space for the dark-squared Bishop, move it later to a7, while keeping the options of d7-d6 and d7-d5 open and postponing the short castling.

As is usual in Giuoco Pianissimo, there are many transpositions from different move orders, and quite a few moves of roughly the same strength: among them 6. Bb3, 6. O-O and 6. Nbd2 are the most popular ones. The main 6. Bb3 d6 7. O-O is covered separately in Line 366.

This opening line deals mostly with positions where White maneuvers the Knight from b1 to g3 before castling, e. g. 6. Bb3 d6 7. Nbd2 Ba7 8. h3 O-O 9. Nf1. Black’s logical response is to advance in the center with 9… d5, typically obtaining comfortable positions.

[Diagram: Black to Move] C. Bauer – P. Prohaszka, Austria 2015. White pieces are awkwardly placed, and to do something about it Black needs to resort to an unexpected plan…

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[August 23, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Old Sicilian (Miscellaneous)

[Line 422 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 without 3. Bb5, 3. d4]

In addition to 3. d4 (Lines 428-439) and 3. Bb5 (Lines 424-428), move 3. Nc3 is also quite popular.

Black’s common reaction 3… e5 is covered separately in our Line 423. If Black chooses 3… e6 or 3… a6 the game most often transposes to the Paulsen Variation.

After 3… d6, if White continues with 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Black has a viable alternative to 5… Nf6 (Lines 469-476) in 5… e5.

If Black opts for 3… g6, White can transpose to the Accelerated Dragon with 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 or respond with 4. Bc4 or 4. Bb5.

Move 3… Nf6 is the usual preference of the Lasker-Pelikan Variation aficionados, since it invites the most logical transposition: 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4. After 4. Bb5 probably the best option for Black is 4… Qc7 5. O-O Nd4 with mutual chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] H. Walsh – V. Turicnik, corr. 2005. White Knight and Rook are under attack, but if White plays accurately his kingside initiative will guarantee him an advantage.

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[August 22, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Classical Variation with 6… d5

[Line 182 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 d5]

Move 6… d5 is considered to give Black a simple game, as the plan is easy: dxc4, b7-b6, Ba6, Nbd7 and c7-c5.

If White opts for 7. Bg5, in addition to the initial plan, Black can sacrifice a pawn with 7… c5 8. dxc5 d4, obtaining sufficient compensation.

Move 7. cxd5 allows Black to obtain excellent prospects with 7… Ne4, followed by exd5 and either c7-c5 or Nc6.

The main move is 7. Nf3 where after 7… dxc4 8. Qxc4 b6 9. Bg5 Ba6 White retreats the Queen to a4, c2 or c3, and in any case, Black has a few paths to full equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black has a poorly protected King and undeveloped queenside. What is the best way for White to make use of it?

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[August 21, 2018] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Dutch Defense, Normal Variation

[Line 048 : 1. d4 f5 without 2. g3]

Line 048 deals with alternatives to the most frequently played Fianchetto Variation (2. g3), which is covered in our Lines 049-050.

By choosing 2. c4 White keeps the option of a later transposition to the Fianchetto. After 2… Nf6 3. Nc3 Black can opt either for 3… e6, or for the kingside fianchetto 3… g6. In the first case, after 3… e6 4. g3 d5 5. Bg2 c6 occurs a position from the Stonewall Variation with the difference that white Knight is already developed on c3, which could be in Black’s favor, since White can no longer play a standard maneuver Nb1-d2-f3. That’s why the game often continues with 3… e6 4. Nf3 Bb4 where Black should get equal chances, too. In case of 3… g6, White has an interesting gambit line in 4. h4, followed by h4-h5 and the exchange sacrifice on h5.

From the notable sidelines for White, we should also mention 2. Nc3 and after 2… Nf6 both the positional 3. Bg5 and sharp 3. e4 fxe4 4. Bg5 deserve serious attention.

For club level players we recommend 2. Bg5 with some similarities with the Trompowsky Attack, and for beginners we suggest 2. Bf4 with the idea e2-e3, Nf3 and h3, and a very solid position.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has superior development and, if he wants to make use of it, he needs to play proactively!

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[August 20, 2018] Trusted: Opening Survey by GM Aleksandar Kovačević
March 18, 2018 Revisited: The Closed Catalan with 7… b6 (8. Ne5 Qxd4)

After Caruana uncorked his ambitious plan against Ding Liren at the Candidates 2018, a series of important games followed in this line. The theoretical relevance of these games is great, and some of them will probably become trend setters for their variations. For instance, L. Dominguez Perez – L. Aronian, Saint Louis (rapid) 2018 from the recently finished Sinquefield Cup rapid event, and G. Meier – B. Deac, Batumi 2018 are quite topical for this line.

[Diagram: White to Move] What was the right choice for White in L. Aronian – Hou Yifan, Tbilisi 2017 that could have secured him a lasting endgame advantage in the diagrammed position?

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