[November 19, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Boris Avrukh:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Harrwitz Attack – Main Line with 6… c5

[Line 256 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 c5]

White’s usual response in the initial position of this line is 7. dxc5 Bxc5, where 8. a3 is covered in our Line 257.

Black delays the capture dxc4 until White loses a tempo with Be2, like in the following lines: 8. Rc1 Nc6 9. Be2 dxc4 and 8. Be2 dxc4.

If White first develops his queenside with 8. Qc2 Nc6 9. Rd1  Black obtains good prospects with 9… Qa5 10. Be2 Nb4 11. Qb3 dxc4 12. Bxc4 Nbd5.

Move 8. cxd5 is quite a popular choice of the players of White. After 8… Nxd5 9. Nxd5 exd5 Black is able to equalize, e. g. 10. a3 Nc6 11. Bd3 Bb6, followed by either d5-d4 or Qf6. The alternative 8… exd5 leads to slightly better positions for White, since in this case Black’s d5-d4 is no longer as convenient, because White can meet it with strong Nc3-a4.

[Diagram: White to Move] White’s pawn majority on the kingside allows him to seize the initiative on that part of the board. What is the best plan for him in the diagrammed position?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[November 18, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
English Opening, Anglo-Slav

[Line 022 : 1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 c6 without 3. d4]

Apart from the main 3. d4, transposing to the Line 071, there are also two other plans that players of White frequently employ: one is the kingside fianchetto with 3. g3, and the other is 3. e3, followed by Nc3, b2-b3 and Bb2.

The first plan allows Black to transpose to the Reti Opening with 3… Nf6, though he can also accept the offer and capture the pawn with 3… dxc4. After 3… dxc4 4. Bg2 Nd7 5. O-O White has sufficient compensation for the sacrificed pawn, which usually leads to its recapture. In the meantime, Black should develop his pieces, which should lead to approximately even chances.

Against the alternative 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3, depending on whether Black wants to play the Semi-Slav, Slav Defense or the Schlechter Variation, he typically opts for one of the following moves: 4… e6, 4… a6, 4… Bg4 or 4… g6. White most often responds with b2-b3 and Bb2, which often eventually transposes to the main lines with d2-d4.

[Diagram: White to Move] White’s dark-squared Bishop and Rook on d1 are prepared for active roles, so how can White cash in his chips?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[November 17, 2016] 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?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[November 16, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Slav Defense – Stoltz Variation (Main Line with 9… b5)

[Line 285 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. O-O dxc4 9. Bxc4 b5]

By playing 9… b5 Black has attacked the Bishop on c4, intends to play Bb7, and later either c6-c5, or e6-e5. White has two replies of about the same strength: 10. Be2 and 10. Bd3.

In the first case, after 10. Be2 Bb7, the two most common continuations are 11. e4 e5 12. dxe5 Nxe5 13. Nd4 Neg4 and 11. Rd1 Qc7 12. e4 e5 13. dxe5 Nxe5 14. Nd4 Neg4, both with immense complications.

If White retreats the Bishop to d3, Black replies the same, i. e. 10… Bb7. Black is again ready to meet 11. e4 with 11… e5. The most popular choice of the players of White is 11. a3, preventing b5-b4, and in some cases planning b2-b4, thus keeping the Bishop on b7 passive. After 11… a5 White switches to the abovementioned plan: 12. e4 e5 13. dxe5 Nxe5 14. Nxe5 Bxe5 15. h3, and again Black is fine after 15… Re8. The alternative is 11… a6, and since he is now ready to play c6-c5, White prevents it with 12. b4. Black’s idea is 12… a5 13. Rb1 axb4 14. axb4 Qe7, pressing the b4-pawn.

[Diagram: White to Move] White Rook on a1 and Bishop on e5 are hanging, and so is the black Queen. In such a complicated position there is a path for White that leads to an almost decisive advantage, can you see it?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[November 14, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Kasparov-Petrosian Variation with 5… d5 6. cxd5

[Line 210 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Bb7 5. Nc3 d5 6. cxd5]

After the usual introductory moves Black has two moves of approximately the same strength – 6… Nxd5 and 6… exd5.

The first option usually occurs when Black is willing to trade off a pair of the Knights in the early stage of the game. Two of the most frequently played moves are 7. e3 (Line 211) and 7. Qc2 (Line 212), while other viable alternatives are 7. Bd2 and 7. Qa4+. In case of the following pawn sacrifice 7. e4 Nxc3 8. bxc3 Bxe4 9. Ne5 Black gets promising position with 9… Qh4, preventing White’s main idea Qg4.

Against 6… exd5, White usually continues with 7. g3 Be7 followed by either 8. Bg2 or the intermediate check 8. Qa4+, when after 8… c6 with 9. Bg2.

The overall evaluation of this opening line is that Black has several ways of obtaining pleasant positions.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Z. Azmaiparashvili – B. Macieja, Ermioni 2006. Black Knight is under attack and, if protected, White will attack it once more with Bb5. How should Black react?

Click here to see the line in our viewer…


[November 13, 2016] Updated Opening Article by Boris Avrukh:
June 2015 Revisited: Réti Opening with 6. Qa4+

Our previous installment of this article featured A. Demuth – W. So, Montpellier 2015 as the line’s key game, where Black had little problems reaching full equality, and the more recent game S. Mareco – Ni Hua, Baku 2015 only confirms our assessment. It didn’t take long and Caruana got the opportunity to try the same line as White: he actually did it twice – against Anand and Topalov. This is an extremely double-edged line, and we believe there is still plenty of room for improvement for both sides.

[Diagram: Black to Move] The diagrammed position comes from an analysis of A. Ramirez – R. Edouard, Arlington 2015. At first glance, it seems that Black has to solve the problems coming from his light square weaknesses. However, white queen’s awkward placement gives Black an opportunity to turn the tables completely…

Click here to see the updated article in our viewer.