[December 01, 2016] 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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[November 30, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Nimzo-Indian Defense, Rubinstein Variation – Normal Variation (incl. Schlechter & Bernstein Defenses)

[Line 191 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Bd3 d5 6. Nf3]

Schlechter Defense (6… b6) is one of the most reliable choices for Black in the Rubinstein Variation, and no wonder that it’s frequently employed by Karjakin, who is probably the biggest Nimzo-Indian expert. Against 7. a3 Bxc3+ 8. bxc3 Black gets good prospects both with 8… c6 and 8… Ba6. After the more common 7. O-O Black can choose between the strategically tense 7… Bb7 8. cxd5 exd5, and a bit less complicated 7… Ba6 8. cxd5 exd5 followed by exchange of the light-squared bishops.

Bernstein Defense (6… c5) is the most popular continuation, and after 7. O-O the old main line 7… Nc6 is covered in our Line 194. The alternative is 7… dxc4 8. Bxc4 where, in addition to 8… cxd4 (Line 193) and 8… Nbd7 (Line 192), Black has few more viable options – among them are 8… Nc6 and 8… Bd7.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black King is poorly protected and the most important defensive piece is the Knight on f6. How can White strengthen his attack by disrupting the black Knight?

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[November 29, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Marshall Attack with 12. d4

[Line 401 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 c6 12. d4]

The Marshall Attack is considered promising for Black to such extent that it is frequently avoided even on the grandmaster level by the players of White.

After the most common 12… Bd6 13. Re1 Qh4 14. g3 Qh3 occurs the main tabiya of the Marshall Attack. One of the possible responses from White is 15. Be3, where after 15… Bg4 16. Qd3 Rae8 17. Nd2 Black has two viable continuations – 17… Re6 and 17… Qh5, while after 17… f5 18. Qf1 Qh5 19. f4 Black probably doesn’t have sufficient compensation.

In addition to 15. Be3, White also has two other moves of approximately the same strength: 15. Qe2 and 15. Re4. In both cases, Black has several ways of obtaining equal chances.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Material is balanced in the diagrammed position, but Black is the one who has the initiative. However, he cannot play either Qh3 or Qxh4, because White can counter both moves with Qxf3. So, what is the best way for Black to continue and launch a decisive attack?

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[November 28, 2016] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Four Knights Variation

[Line 012 : 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3]

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.

Move 3… Nc6 is by far the most popular choice from the initial position of this opening line, since moves like 3… d6 and 3… e4 lead to positions that are generally in White’s favor.

White has various replies to 3… Nc6: 4. g3 (covered in Lines 014-017), 4. e3 (topic of our Line 013), 4. d34. a3 and 4. e4 are the most common among them.

In most of the above mentioned variations, players of Black frequently choose one of the following setups: the most ambitious is the Reversed Open Sicilian, where Black plays an early d7-d5; fianchetto lines with g7-g6 and Bg7 are similar to the Reversed Closed Sicilian; some prefer developing the dark-squared Bishop to either b4 or c5. The choice depends on the taste of players and, in any case, Black is typically able to obtain equal chances.

[Diagram: Black to Move] B. Jobava – S. Rublevsky, Khanty-Mansiysk 2005. White’s last move was accepting the challenge with Qb3xb7. How can Black make use of the misplaced white Queen to seize the initiative?

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[November 27, 2016] Busted: Opening Survey by GM Slaviša Brenjo
Ruy Lopez, Keres Variation with 15… Rb8

The World Chess Championship Match certainly casts a big shadow, but that doesn’t mean that interesting games are not played elsewhere. German Bundesliga usually brings highly combative encounters, and Inarkiev’s revenge for his loss against Svidler at the Russian Individual Superfinal has brought the game line to our editor’s attention.

While it’s generally surprising to see a super-GM of Svidler’s caliber forget his preparation and misplay the post-opening phase so badly, the truth is that the entire variation is extremely dangerous for Black.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Y. Solodovnichenko – A. Delchev, Mulhouse 2011. Black has to act quickly, or White will storm his kingside after g5. Any ideas?

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[November 25, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Aleksandar Kovačević:
Sicilian Defense, Maroczy Bind – Gurgenidze Variation (Main Line with 9. Be3)

[Line 432 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. c4 Nf6 6. Nc3 d6 7. Be2 Nxd4 8. Qxd4 Bg7 9. Be3]

The Maroczy Bind is, in our opinion, an advisable opening choice for club level players, since it allows Black to get solid positions, with a rather straightforward plan.

The idea of the Gurgenidze Variation is to force white Queen to capture on d4 by playing Nc6xd4 before white Bishop is developed on e3. The Queen soon needs to take flight from d4, which means that White has hardly gained a tempo, while exchanging a pair of Knights generally favors the side with less space – in this case it’s Black.

After the usual 9… O-O 10. Qd2 Be6 11. Rc1 Black has two viable setups – one is to advance his a-pawn to a4, then develop the Queen to a5 and Rook from f8 to c8, and the other is the immediate abovementioned deployment of the Queen and the Rook. Exemplary continuations are 11… a5 12. f3 a4 13. Rc2 Qa5 14. Nd5 Nxd5 15. cxd5 Rfc8! and 11… Qa5 12. f3 Rfc8 13. b3 a6 14. Na4 Qxd2+ 15. Kxd2 Nd7, where White has difficulties getting something concrete out of the opening.

[Diagram: Black to Move] One of the critical positions of the Maroczy Bind is displayed on the diagram above: White has just played Be3-b6, attacking the Rook on d8, while planning to proceed with Ke3 and Rhd1. How can Black transform the position to an easily defendable endgame?

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