[November 09, 2016] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
English Opening, Four Knights Variation – Kingside Fianchetto with 4… d5 (Main Line)

[Line 016 : 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nb6 7. O-O Be7 8. a3]

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.

Line 016 deals with one of the main lines of the Four Knights Variation of the English Opening.

White intends to play b2-b4, gaining some space on the queenside. The game usually continues 8… O-O 9. b4 Be6, where Black wants to play f7-f6, Nd4 and c7-c6. After 10. Rb1 f6 11. d3 Nd4 moves 12. Nd2, 12. Nxd4 and 12. Be3 have all been tried many times and, in any case, Black should have equal chances.

Black has an interesting alternative in 8… O-O 9. b4 Re8, followed by Bf8, a7-a5 and Nd4. In case of 10. b5 Nd4 11. Nxe5 Black gets good prospects with 11… Bf6.

[Diagram: Black to Move] B. Jobava – D. Arutinian, Tbilisi 2007. Unusual position of the black Rook together with an awkward placement of the white Queen give Black motives for a powerful tactical blow!

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[November 06, 2016] Updated Opening Article by Boris Avrukh:
March 2015 Revisited: Sicilian Defense, Taimanov-Bastrikov Variation with 7… Bd6

Our previous installment of this article featured V. Kramnik – F. Caruana, Dortmund 2016 as the line’s key game, where Black had problems reaching the full equality. It didn’t take long and Caruana got the opportunity to try the same line as White: his choice proved successful and he scored an important win against Movsesian. This is a very topical and fashionable 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 line that has been played mostly by computer engines. Black has to solve the problems coming from the insecure placement of his uncastled king, and he needs some really extreme measures to survive. Can you find the best mutual play that ends in a perpetual check?

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[November 05, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Slav Defense, Schlechter Variation

[Line 088 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 without 4… a6, 4… Bg4, 4… e6, 4… Bf5]

The most frequent moves in this variation are covered in separate lines: 4… a6 in Line 090, 4… Bg4 in Lines 091-092, 4… e6 in Line 093 and 4… Bf5 in Lines 094-097.

Line 088 mainly deals with the Schlechter Variation (4… g6). The fact that the e-pawn is already on e3 is generally in Black’s favor, because White’s dark-squared Bishop cannot be deployed on f4.

Move 5. Nc3 is the most active reaction for White. After 5… Bg7 the main move 6. Be2 can be found in Line 089. Against the alternative plan that begins with 6. Bd3 O-O 7. O-O Black can trade his light-squared Bishop for the Knight on f3 with 7… Bg4 8. h3 Bxf3 9. Qxf3 e6. White thus gets to keep the bishop pair, but Black has a solid position without weaknesses.

Apart from the abovementioned variation, there are two more interesting options for White on 5th move: 5. Nbd2 followed by Bd3, and 5. Be2 Bg7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nbd2.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black has sacrificed the e7-pawn, and now the Rook on f8 is under attack; what is the best way for him to continue?

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[November 04, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation – Taimanov-Bastrikov Variation without 6. Nxc6 (incl. Taimanov Variation)

[Line 451 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 a6 without 6. Nxc6]

Apart from the 6. Nxc6 (Line 452) players of White have tried numerous possibilities, most notably 6. Be3, 6. g3, 6. Be2 and 6. Bf4.

After 6. Be3 move 6… Qc7 transposes to our Line 455, and against the alternative 6… Nf6 White usually choses one of the following: 7. f4, 7. Qd2 or 7. Bd3.

King’s fianchetto 6. g3 is an option popular among positionally-minded players, where the game often continues 6… d6 7. Bg2 Bd7 8. O-O Nf6 9. a4 Be7.

In case of the 6. Be2 Black’s best reaction is to transpose either to the Scheveningen Variation with 6… d6 7. O-O Nf6, or to one of the main variations of our Line 454 with 6… Qc7.

The idea of the 6. Bf4 is trying to exploit the weakness of the d6 square. After 6… d6 (threatening Nxd4 and e6-e5) 7. Nxc6 bxc6 8. Qd2 occurs an interesting, and not too examined position, which might be suitable for the beginners.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Karpov – M. Taimanov, Moscow 1983. Black’s last move was Nc6-b4, disturbing the white Queen. What is the best place to move the Queen to?

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[November 02, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
King’s Indian Defense, Debrecen Defense

[Line 130 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O Nbd7]

The Debrecen Variation (6… Nbd7) is one of the most popular lines of the King’s Indian Fianchetto. Black willingly surrenders the space, and plans to proceed with e7-e5, followed by either flexible c7-c6, or exd4 with Re8, pressing the e4-square. White’s position is generally a bit more pleasant, but Black should be able to obtain more or less satisfactory play.

The game usually continues 7. Nc3 e5 8. e4 where Black has two viable options: 8… c6 and 8… exd4 9. Nxd4 Re8.

In the first case, after 8… c6 9. h3 the most active way for Black to proceed is 9… Qb6, fighting against Be3 while also aiming at the d4-pawn. Against all three of the most common replies: 10. Re1, 10. c5 and 10. d5 Black needs to have exact knowledge of the consequences.

After 8… exd4 9. Nxd4 Re8 the most typical plan for Black is Nc5, followed by either a7-a5-a4, Bd7 with Qc8, or the Nfd7-e5 maneuver. The arising positions are generally easier to play with White, though we think that Black should be fine nonetheless.

[Diagram: White to Move] D. Šolak – M. Mchedlishvili, Konya 2011. If White takes the exchange on e5 his opponent will get a sufficient compensation due to an excellent piece play. However, there is a better way for White to handle the diagrammed position – can you see how?

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[November 01, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Slav Defense – Stoltz Variation (Main Line with 9… a6)

[Line 284 : 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 a6]

Move 9… a6 leads to one of the critical lines of the Stoltz Variation of the Semi-Slav Defense. The idea is to protect the b5-square, planning the typical b7-b5, c6-c5 and Bb7.

The main choice of players of White is 10. Rd1, and after 10… b5 there are four responses deserving attention: 11. Be2, 11. Bd311. Bf1 and even leaving the Bishop under attack with 11. e4!?, followed by e4-e5.

If White fights the abovementioned plan with 10. a4, Black gets a satisfactory position with 10… c5 11. dxc5 Bxc5, where he White can no longer carry out the common plan with a2-a3 and b2-b4.

Apart from the mentioned lines on the 10th move, White can also opt for 10. Bd2, 10. e4 or 10. a3, in any case with balanced positions rich with possibilities for both sides.

[Diagram: Black to Move] C. Teichmann – A. Kochemasov, corr. 2010. Black’s attack is obviously very dangerous, but can he finish off the opponent?

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