[August 22, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Slav Defense, Modern Line

[Line 072 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 e6 with 4. Qc2, 4. e3]

Line 072 deals with two popular choices for White in the Modern Line of the Slav Defense – 4. Qc2 and 4. e3.

The idea of 4. Qc2 is to keep the options open. If Black chooses 4… f5, which is one of the main ideas of c6-d5-e6 setup, White has a promising 5. Bf4 at his disposal. Black’s main preference is 4… Nf6, and only after 5. e3 Ne4, he can proceed with f7-f5, Bd6 and Nd7. If White goes for 5. Bg5, Black usually continues with 5… h6 6. Bh4 dxc4 7. Qxc4 b5 8. Qc2 Bb7, with mutually rich play. Advanced players often opt for 5. g3, where again 5… dxc4 6. Qxc4 b5 7. Qc2 Bb7 should be good for Black.

Against the other major line 4. e3, Black can make the aforementioned setup 4… Bd6, with f7-f5 and Nf6. The logical sequence of moves that may follow could be 5. Bd3 f5 6. O-O Nf6 7. b3 with the idea Ba3. Anyway, Black should be fine after 7… Qe7 8. Bb2 O-O 9. Qc1 b6 10. Ba3 c5.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Stella – M. Kravtsiv, Livigno 2012. After trading the queens 19. Qxa8 Rxa8, White can equalize by playing 20. Bd2. Is there something better that White can do in the diagrammed position?

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[August 21, 2016] Updated Opening Article by GM Boris Avrukh:
May 2013/September 2015 Revisited: Slav Defense with 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5

This is the second updating of this line, which seems to offer the players of Black nice practical chances, in spite of the theoretical verdict, which is quite clear: White has the upper hand, but proving it requires extremely accurate play deep into the middlegame.

[Diagram: Black to Move] A. Kveynis  – D. Šolak, Reykjavik 2015. Black’s compensation for the sacrificed pawn is obvious, but can he push for more?

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[August 19, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Boris Avrukh:
Gruenfeld Defense, Accelerated Russian & Stockholm Variations

[Line 136 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 without 3… Bg7]

Line 136 covers various early sidelines of Gruenfeld Defense (3… d5), while the most frequent moves are examined in other opening lines: 4. cxd5 in Lines 139-145, 4. Nf3 in Lines 146-149 and 4. Bf4 in Line 138.

Stockholm Variation (4. Bg5) has gained considerable following in recent years. The most popular reply 4… Ne4 is covered in Line 137, and this line provides an answer what happens if Black sacrifices pawn with 4… Bg7 5. Bxf6 Bxf6 6. cxd5. The most solid continuation for Black is 6… c6, where Black gets decent prospects both after 7. e4 O-O 8. e5 Bg7 9. Bc4 b5 10. Bb3 b4 11. Ne2 cxd5 and 7. Rc1 O-O 8. dxc6 Qxd4 9. Qxd4 Bxd4. There is even a sharper approach for Black in this line: 6… c5 !?, which has recently been tested by several top level players, like Vachier-Lagrave, Topalov, Grischuk and Radjabov.

The Accelerated Russian (4. Qb3) is another important line covered here. After 4… dxc4 5. Qxc4 Bg7, apart from the transposition to the Russian Variation with 6. Nf3, White can immediately occupy the center with 6. e4 O-O 7. Be2, and again, just like in the Russian Variation, the most common responses are 7… a6, 7… Na6 and 7… Nc6.

From other possibilities for players of White, 4. Qa4+ Bd7 5. Qb3, leads to atypical positions for the Gruenfeld Defense.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White is threatening to take the Knight on f6, to be followed by check on c7. However, White’s kingside is undeveloped, and Black can make an immediate use of that fact. What is the best way for him to continue?

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[August 18, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Lasker-Pelikan Variation – Sveshnikov Variation with 11. Bd3

[Line 436 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nd5 f5 11. Bd3]

In this opening line we deal with one of the main lines of the Lasker/Sveshnikov Variation of the Sicilian Defense.

Since White intends to take on f5, Black’s only reasonable move is 11… Be6. White has at his disposal, a popular piece sacrifice 12. c3 Bg7 13. Nxb5 axb5 14. Bxb5 where precise play is necessary from both sides, but Black has fewer good options to choose from.

Another possibility for White is 12. Qh5, aimed against 12… Bxd5. Black usually continues with 12… Rg8, with double-edged positions.

A more positional approach is 12. O-O, and since neither 12… Bg7 nor 12… f4 seem to give Black sufficient counterplay, our recommendation is 12… Bxd5 13. exd5 Ne7. Here, White has tried various moves: 14. c4, 14. Re1 and 14. Nxb5 are some of the more popular choices, but 14. c3 is considered to pose Black the most problems. Nevertheless, after 14… Bg7 15. Qh5 e4 16. Bc2 O-O 17. Rea1 Qc8 Black has reasonably good prospects.

[Diagram: White to Move] T. Lagermann – F. Fritsche, corr. 2002. Black has just taken the ‘poisoned’ pawn on a2. His Queen can hardly be captured, but White can create unexpected threats to his opponent’s King, which should give him a decisive attack. How should White proceed?

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[August 16, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Harrwitz Attack – Main Line with 8. a3

[Line 257 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. a3]

Line 257 deals with the main variation of the Harrwitz Attack with 6… c5. Black’s best reaction on 8th move is 8… Nc6, and here White has two interesting alternatives to the main 9. Qc2: one is 9. Rc1, often leading to sharp positions, and the other is, the not so ambitious, 9. Be2 dxc4 10. Bxc4.

Against 9. Qc2 Black has tried various moves. Carlsen tested 9… Re8 in his World Championship Match against Anand in 2014, where Anand showed an excellent preparation and made a pleasant opening advantage with 10. Bg5. From other possibilities, neither 9… Be7 nor 9… Bd7 seem to give Black adequate play.

The only Black’s 9th move that leads to balanced positions is 9… Qa5, and now White has a few moves of approximately same strength: 10. O-O-O, 10. Nd2 and 10. Rd1.

[Diagram: White to Move] After White moves the Bishop from c4, Black is counting on quick counterplay with b5-b4. How should White react and gain a decisive edge?

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[August 15, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Tarrasch Defense

[Line 063 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 without 3… dxc4, 3… c6, 3… Nf6]

Various Black’s third move choices are covered in other opening lines, and the topic of this line is theTarrasch Defense (3… c5). White’s usual reaction is 4. cxd5, and after 4… exd5 either 5. Nc3 with g2-g3, Bg2 and O-O, or immediate 5. g3, which often transposes to the same position.

White also has an interesting possibility to play 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. dxc5, where neither 6… Bxc5 nor 6… d4 7. Na4 Bxc5 give Black full equality.

After 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. g3 Nf6 7. Bg2 Be7 8. O-O O-O occurs the main tabiya of the Tarrasch Defense. For club level players we recommend the following sideline: 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. a3, with good prospects for White.

The main alternative is 9. Bg5, keeping the tension on the board, where Black has to choose among 9… cxd4, 9… c4 and 9… Be6. Either way, White has sufficient resources to claim the opening advantage.

[Diagram: White to Move] F. Marshall – Ed. Lasker, USA 1923. Black King is still in the center, and Marshall has made a full use of that fact and obtained a decisive attack. Can you see the right path to winning as White?

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