[December 19, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Slav Defense, Quiet Variation – Chebanenko Variation

[Line 090 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 a6 without 5. Nc3]

The main move against the Chebanenko Varitation is 5. Nc3 and it’s covered in our Line 102. Among the other White’s choices on 5th move 5. Bd3, 5. Qc2, 5. Nbd2 and 5. Bd2 deserve serious attention. Black’s usual plan is 5… Bg4, or (if allowed) 5… Bf5, followed by e7-e6, Be7 and O-O.

An examplary line could be 5. Bd3 Bg4 6. Nbd2 e6 7. O-O Nbd7 8. b3 Bd6, where Black has comfortable position.

Move 5. Qc2 seems to pose a bit more problems for Black, though he is again able to obtain roughly equal positions, both with 5… Bg4 6. Ne5 Bh5 and 5… g6 6. Bd3 Bg7 7. O-O O-O.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Z. Azmaiparashvili – G. Kasparov, Crete 2003. Kasparov didn’t miss the chance to take over the initiative and soon gained a decisive advantage. What is the best continuation for Black?

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[December 18, 2016] Pick of the Week by GM Boris Avrukh:
August 2016 Revisited: Closed Catalan Defense with 7. Ne5, 9. Na3 & 11. Qd2 

After the original key game W. So – H. Nakamura, Saint Louis 2016 many good players had followed suit, so we have decided to update the article with recent developments in this line.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black had major difficulties defending his pawns in E. Iturrizaga Bonelli – J. Schroeder, London 2016, so passive approach might not have been the best approach for him. Any ideas on how to proceed as Black?


[December 17, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Bogo-Indian Defense with 4. Bd2 (incl. Nimzowitsch Variation)

[Line 201 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 with 4… a5, 4… Qe7]

In the Nimzowitsch Variation (4… Qe7) Black delays trading of the dark-squared Bishops. When White continues with 5. Nc3, Black often captures on c3, followed by Ne4 and exchanging another pair of pieces. White usually opts for 5. g3, where after 5… Bxd2+ 6. Qxd2 Black’s best option is 6… Nc6, with the idea of playing Ne4 and Qb4+. The alternative 5… Nc6 allows White to gain a small edge after 6. Nc3 Bxc3 7. Bxc3 Ne4 8. Rc1 O-O 9. Bg2 d6 10. d5.

The other variation covered in this opening line is 4… a5. Two common follow-ups are 5. g3 d5 6. Qc2 c5 and 5. Nc3 b6 6. e3 Bb7 with a roughly equal game.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has more than sufficient compensation for a pawn, and he can even make a decisive advantage with aggressive play. How should he continue?

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[December 16, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense – Main Line with 9… Ke8

[Line 380 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 Ke8]

White’s usual continuation after the introductory moves is 10. h3, where Black can choose from several promising choices.

Move 10… h5 is the most popular one. By stopping the eventual g2-g4 Black secures the position of his Knight on f5. White in his turn has four highly examined possibilities: 11. Bf411. Bg5, 11. Rd1 and 11. Ne2 where, in any case, Black has a few paths to get even chances.

Among the 10th move alternatives, 10… Be7, 10… h6 and 10… Be6 should be good enough for equalization. Recently even 10… b6 has been proved satisfactory, since after 11. Rd1 Bb4 12. Ne2 Bb7 players of Black solved their problems in games V. Anand – V. Topalov, Saint Louis 2016 and A. Grischuk – D. Andreikin, Baku 2014.

[Diagram: White to Move] Iv. Sarić – Z. Efimenko, Khanty Mansiysk 2010. White Knight is hanging, and Black has another strong threat – Ne2+. How can White parry his opponent’s intentions and obtain a longterm advantage?

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[December 15, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Boris Avrukh:
Gruenfeld Defense, Stockholm Variation with 4… Ne4

[Line 137 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bg5 Ne4]

The Stockholm Variation (4. Bg5), though relatively fashionable, is not a mainstream reaction to the Gruenfeld Defense. Move 4… Ne4 is the most frequent reaction, where White usually continues with 5. Bh4, 5. h4 or 5. Bf4, though even 5. Nxe4 and 5. cxd5 are also possible.

In case of 5. Bh4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Black’s best option is 5… dxc4, intending to protect the c4-pawn with Be6, and not allowing White an early recapture with Bxc4.

After 5. h4 a common follow-up is 5… Bg7 6. cxd5 Nxc3 7. bxc3 Qxd5, with mutual chances.

Move 5. Bf4 is of about the same strength as the two previously mentioned moves, where after 5… Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. e3 both 7… c5 and 7… O-O are good enough for Black to obtain equal chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black has the strong passed c3-pawn and would be very happy to trade off the Queens. How can White fight his opponent’s plan, and gain a strong attack?

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[December 14, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation with 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 (incl. Browne Variation)

[Line 482 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 with 7… Nbd7, 7… Be7]

Two very demanding and dynamic variations, 7… Nbd7 and 7… Be7, are covered in this opening line. These variations are interconnected, often transposing to the same positions, because both Nbd7 and Be7 are part of the Black’s plan.

Against 7… Nbd7 most popular choices of the players of White are 8. Qf3 and 8. Qe2.

After 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O b5 White has numerous options, among them 10. Bd3 Bb7 11. Rhe1 Qb6, 10. e5 Bb7 11. Qh3 dxe5 12. Nxe6 fxe6 13. Qxe6+ Be7 and 10. Bxb5 axb5 11. Ndxb5 Qb8 require mutual precise play.

Another common continuation is 8. Qe2 Qc7 9. O-O-O b5 9. a3 Bb7 10. g4 Be7, where players of White have tried 11. Bh4 (with idea g4-g5), 11. f5 e5 12. Bxf6 Nxf6 13. Nb3 and 11. Bg2.

[Diagram: White to Move] H. Muller – E. Ramini, corr. 2013. How can White gain a big advantage making use of the fact that Black has an uncastled king?

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