[March 15, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Exchange Variation with 8. Bd3

[Line 268 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. Bg5 Nbd7 6. cxd5 exd5 7. e3 Be7 8. Bd3]

Line 268 deals with the main line of the Exchange Variation in the Queen’s Gambit Declined.

The most common Black’s choice is 8… O-O, followed by Re8 and Nf8. After the usual 9. Qc2 Re8 10. O-O Nf8 White has a couple of well-investigated continuations. Prophylactic 11. h3 prevents Black from placing a Knight or a Bishop to g4, and also in some cases provides a square h2 for the Bishop retreat. The idea of 11. Rae1 is often connected with the e3-e4 breakthrough, while 11. Rab1 prepares a minority attack on the queenside with b2-b4-b5.

Black has at his disposal two possible sidelines. By playing 8… Ne4, Black often trades a pair of minor pieces in the early stage of the game.

The maneuver 8… Nf8 is accompanied by either Ne6 or Ng6, and later short castling, with Black’s good chances to equalize.

[Diagram: White to Move] If White takes the Rook on e4 the material will be roughly balanced, but White stays without an important piece for his attack. On the other hand, Black would like to activate the Knight from b6 to d7 and later to f6, taking part in the defense of the black King. So, what do you think is the best way to proceed as White?

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[March 14, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Gruenfeld Defense, Three Knights Variation (incl. Hungarian Attack & Burille Variation)

[Line 146 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3]

After the exclusively played 4… Bg7 White has a choice of many setups, among which 5. Qb3 is covered in our Lines 148 & 149, while 5. Bg5 belongs to Line 147.

Hungarian Attack (5. Bf4) is the main option in this opening line. The game often follows 5… O-O 6. Rc1, where 6… c5 is a reasonable alternative to a more common 6… dxc4. Against the latter option, move 7. e3 leads to quiet positions, while 7. e4 can easily get a forced character.

Burille Variation (5. e3) is a modest and solid option, thus we recommend it for club level players and also for beginners. Players of White have tried many continuations after 5… O-O, namely 6. cxd5, 6. Be2 and 6. Bd2. White’s setup, though unambitious, is a hard nut to crack.

From a number of possible sidelines, White sometimes opts for the tricky 5. Qa4+ or the aggressive 5. h4.

[Diagram: Black to Move] It seems that White has a good counterplay on the queenside, while his Knight and dark-squared Bishop are doing a good job defending the King. Still, Black has the means to get a big edge – can you see how?

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[March 13, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Slav Defence – Chebanenko Variation

[Line 069 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 without 4. Nf3]

Apart from 4. Nf3 (Lines 098-111), which is the main variation of the Slav Defense, players of White often go for 4. e3, defending the c-pawn with the light-squared Bishop. Black has a couple of options of about the same strength: 4… a6 and 4… e6, while after 4… g6 the game usually transposes to the Schlechter Variation with 5. Nf3 (Lines 088-089).

A big part of the Chebanenko Variation (4… a6) that occurs after 5. Nf3 is covered in our Lines 102-103. Other popular choices for White are 5. Qc2 and 5. Bd3. Responding with 5… e6 against the first option is dealt with separately, while its alternative 5… g6 is also fine for Black. After 5… b5 6. b3 and 5… Bg4 6. h3 Bh5 7. Qb3 White gets somewhat better prospects.

In case of 4… e6, White can transfer to the Meran Defense (Lines 274-285) with 5. Nf3, but he can also opt for the more quiet 5. b3, where Black should not have any problems reaching the equality.

[Diagram: White to Move] White Knight is under attack and moving it away is not an option. How should White fight for a longterm initiative?

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[March 12, 2017] Updated Opening Article from GM Dragan Paunović:
The Fight Club – Reti Opening, King’s Indian Attack with 8… Qxd4 9. Nxc6

[March 2014 Revisited: 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 c6 4. c4 dxc4 5. O-O Nbd7 6. Qc2 Nb6 7. Na3 Be6 8. Ne5 Qd4 9. Nxc6 bxc6 10. Bxc6+]

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.

Three years have past since the game L. Aronian – D. Andreikin, Khanty-Mansiysk 2014 that initiated this article was played. Some interesting new developments have appeared in this line, but the overall evaluation of this variation stays the same – Black is able to get equal chances with accurate play.

In a recent game by our silicon friends, White has find the way to make things difficult for his opponent in the line 10… Kd8 11. Nb5 Qc5 12. Bxa8 Qxb5 13. Bg2 Bg4 14. d3 cxd3 with the strong 15. Rd1.

For that reason, we recommend 10… Nfd7 as a safer option, leading to balanced positions.

[Diagram: White to Move] In case of 18. Ra5 Black gets a decent position with 18… Qb4. There is a stronger option for White that leads to stable advantage for him. What would you play?

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[March 11, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation – Taimanov-Bastrikov Variation with 5. Nc3 (incl. Four Knights Variation)

[Line 450 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 without 5… Qc7, 5… a6]

The most frequently played lines of the Paulsen Variation are 5… Qc7 (Lines 453-456) and 5… a6 (Lines 451&452), while from other notable moves we point out 5… Nf6 and 5… d6.

Against 5… Nf6 White can try 6. Ndb5, where Black can transpose to the main line of the Lasker Variation with 6… d6 7. Bf4 e5 8. Bg5, while after the alternative 6… Bb4 7. a3 Bxc3+ 8. Nxc3 d5 9. exd5 exd5 10. Bd3 White gets a small but lasting advantage. Move 6. Nxc6 seems like a more principal continuation. After 6… bxc6 7. e5 Nd5 8. Ne4 occurs a highly dynamical position that is generally easier to play with White pieces.

Move 5… d6 is a bit passive sideline for Black. In case of 6. Be3 a game often transposes to the Scheveningen Variation with 6… Nf6. The other promising option for White is 6. g4, resembling the Keres Attack. After the usual 6… a6 7. Be3 Nge7 8. f4 the arising position is in White’s favor.

[Diagram: White to Move] If White plays Nd2-c4, Black will parry his opponent’s threats with Ne7-c8. How can White achieve more and seize the initiative?

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[March 10, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Accelerated Meran

[Line 274 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 without 5… Nbd7]

As an alternative to the main line 5… Nbd7 (Lines 275-285) Black has a viable sideline in 5… a6. White has tried a numerous moves in response and, beside 6. Qc2 (transposing to Line 070) and 6. a4 (Line 099), moves 6. b3 and 6. c5 can also be seen very frequently.

Protecting the c-pawn with 6. b3 is connected with a plan that includes Bf1-d3 and short castling. Black usually replies with 6… Bb4, forcing White to occupy with 7. Bd2 a not so good square for the Bishop. After 7… Nbd7 8. Bd3 O-O 9. O-O Bd6 occurs one of the critical positions of this opening line, where White often opts for an early e3-e4. Black on his behalf typically reacts with e6-e5, with good chances to equalize.

In case of 6. c5 Black has two plans that should provide him with sufficient counterplay. One is the immediate 6… b6, where after 7. cxb6 Qxb6 he often proceeds with a6-a5 and Ba6. The other plan is 6… Nbd7, with the idea e6-e5. For example, 7. Bd3 e5 8. dxe5 Ng4, and Black is fine.

[Diagram: White to Move] White’s intentions are clear – attacking the black King. He needs to increase the pressure, so white Queen has to find the way to join the attacking pieces. Any ideas?

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