[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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[March 09, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Advance Variation

[Line 323 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5]

Though Black has a couple of options at his disposal, move 3… c5 is the most common choice. After 4. c3, continuation 4… Qb6 5. Nf3 Bd7, with the idea Bd7-b5, is our recommendation for club level players.

The game usually goes 3… c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3, where moves 5… Bd7 (Line 324) and 5… Qb6 are of about the same strength. Against the latter option, 6. a3, 6. Be2 and 6. Na3 are frequently seen, and in any case with complex strategical battles.

The alternatives 4… Nh6 and 4… Nge7 are more promising for White, for example 4… Nh6 5. Bd3 cxd4 6. Bxh6 gxh6 7. cxd4 and 4… Nge7 5. Na3 cxd4 6. cxd4 Nf5 7. Nc2, with a small edge.

[Diagram: White to Move] F. Caruana – F. Vallejo Pons, Sao Paolo/Bilbao 2012. Black has just sacrificed a Knight on b4, and wants to make pressure on the pinned c3-Knight. How should White continue to get a strong initiative?

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[March 08, 2017] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Four Knights Variation – Kingside Fianchetto

[Line 014 : 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 without 4… d5, 4… Bb4]

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.

The most frequently seen choices of Black are 4… d5 (Lines 015 & 016) and 4… Bb4 (Line 017), while 4… Nd4, 4… Bc5 and 4… g6 are also considered to be fine for him.

After 4… Nd4 White should avoid taking the pawn with 5. Nxe5, since Black gets strong compensation after 5… Qe7 6. f4 d6 7. Nd3 Bf5. Therefore, the game usually continues 5. Bg2 Nxf3+ 6. Bxf3 where both 6… Bb4 and 6… Bc5 are sufficient for getting equal positions.

In case of 4… Bc5, White can decide between dynamical 5. Nxe5 Bxf2+ 6. Kxf2 Nxe5 7. e4 c5 and quiet 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O O-O.

Move 4… g6 is considered a sideline, though the position arising after 5. d4 exd4 6. Nxd4 Bg7 gives Black enough resources to equalize.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White King is exposed and his Queen is unprotected, which gives Black motives to seize the initiative. What should he play?

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[March 07, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Gruenfeld Defense, Exchange Variation (Modern Main Line with 8. Be3)

[Line 142 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Nf3 c5 8. Be3 Qa5 9. Qd2]

Line 142 deals with one of the most critical variations of the Gruenfeld Defense. Black’s choices 9… Bg4 and 9… cxd4 lead to White’s advantage, so there are only two moves that give Black good chances to equalize: 9… O-O and 9… Nc6.

Move 9… O-O is considered to be the main, where both 10. Rc1 and 10. Rb1 are played quite frequently.

The same responses of White are seen against 9… Nc6, and again after 10. Rb1 and 10. Rc1 Black has sufficient resources to get roughly even positions.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Rombaldoni – B. Avrukh, Alghero 2011. Black’s idea is to create counterplay with b5-b4. However, White is faster and is able to launch a strong attack. What is the best continuation for him?

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