[September 07, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, Tarrasch Variation (incl. Morozevich & Guimard Variations)

[Line 325 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 without 3… c5, 3… Nf6]

Apart from the most popular systems: Open System (3… c5) covered in Lines 327-330, 3… Nf6 (Line 326) and Rubinstein Variation (3… dxe4 4. Nxe4, Lines 331-335) Black has at his disposal various alternatives.

Among the variations that are presented here, Morozevich Variation (3… Be7) apears to be the most promising. There are three major choices for White on the fourth move:

Move 4. Ngf3 leads to dynamic battles. After 4… Nf6 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bd3 c5 7. c3 Nc6 occurs a critical position. White is later often obliged to sacrifice the d4-pawn, or to cede his strong pawn center with dxc5, but in return he gets half-opened e- and d-files for his rooks.

More quiet alternative for White is 4. Bd3. The game then usually continues with 4… c5 5. dxc5 Nf6 6. Qe2 Nc6 7. Ngf3, and here Black is able to get even chances with 7… Nb4.

With 4. e5 c5 5. Qg4 White wants to make use of the fact that black Bishop isn’t defending the g7-pawn. Yet, Black is willing to defend the pawn with the King 5… Kf8, and after 6. dxc5 Nc6 he gets sufficient counterplay.

Guimard Variation (3… Nc6) has its share of followers, but White should be able to get a preferable position after 4. Ngf3 Nf6 5. e5 Nd7 6. Bd3.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black is a pawn up and attacking on f2, but White has a path to longterm initiative with enterprising play!

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[September 06, 2016] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Central Variation, Alekhine System & Modern Defense

[Line 059 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 without 3… e5]

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 Central Variation (3. e4) is the most direct approach against the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, as well as the most challenging for Black.

MacDonnell Defense (3… e5) is covered separately in our Line 060, and Line 059 deals with the remaining Black’s third moves.

Greco Variation (3… b5) doesn’t seem to give Black equal chances. He has an interesting exchange sacrifice at his disposal: 4. a4 c6 5. axb5 cxb5 6. Nc3 a6 7. Nxb5 axb5 8. Ra8 Bb7, but White should, after a few precise moves, claim advantage straight out of the opening.

Rubinstein Variation (3… c5) is another possibility, but again White should get the upper hand, this time with 4. d5 Nf6 5. Nc3 b5 6. Bf4.

Modern Defense (3… Nc6) resembles the Chigorin Defense, with Black knights pressing against White’s central pawns. After 4. Nf3 Bg4 5. d5 Ne5 6. Bf4 Ng6 both 7. Bg3 and 7. Be3 lead to positions preferable for White.

Alekhine System (3… Nf6) is the most critical line of the Central Variation. After 4. e5 Nd5 5. Bxc4 Nb6 there are two major options for White: 6. Bd3 and 6. Bb3. Though accurate play is required from the players of Black, there are enough resources to get equal chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] Material is fairly balanced, but strong Bishop on e4 gives White reasons to hope for more. How can he get a big advantage in the diagrammed position?

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[September 05, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Lasker-Pelikan Variation – Chelyabinsk Variation (Main Line with 11. c3)

[Line 438 : 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. Nd5 Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. c3]

The Lasker Variation of the Sicilian Defense is not as popular as it used to be, but one should not be misled – it still is very hard for White to obtain some advantage. Carlsen and Grischuk tried it recently in a few games, and got comfortable positions. Black has several promising setups to decide from:

After 11… Ne7 12. Nxf6 gxf6 13. Bd3 White does make certain problems to his opponent.

Old main line 11… Bg5 12. Nc2 O-O is covered separately in Line 439, and here Black has experienced difficulties in the last few years.

The new main line is 11… Bg5 12. Nc2 Ne7, and though White has a number of interesting plans, Black has numerous resources at his disposal and should equalize without difficulties.

Another possibility for Black is 11… Bg5 12. Nc2 Rb8. The most ambitious continuation for White is 13. a4 bxa4 14. Ncb4 Nxb4, where both against 15. cxb4, and 15. Nxb4, Black should be fine.

[Diagram: White to Move] S. Karjakin – T. Radjabov, Warsaw 2005. White has a powerful knight on d5 and it gives him a strong motive for positional sacrifice, that Karjakin successfully carried out in the featured game. How does White obtain longterm initiative in the diagrammed position?

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[September 4, 2016] Updated Opening Article by GM Slaviša Brenjo:
September 2015 Revisited: Bishop’s Opening with 7. Qxd2

After Chinese prodigy Wei Yi mesmerized the world with a stunning queen sacrifice against his super-GM compatriot Ding Liren, this offbeat line suddenly gained in popularity. This update brings several new successful outings for the players of White, including a top-level one: N. Short – D. Anton Guijarro, Madrid (rapid) 2016.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Raubfisch ME 262  – Komodo 9.02, Internet (blitz) 2016. What seemed like another uneventful balanced game among the top engines could have turned into a barely defendable position for White had Komodo had more time to calculate more deeply… Can you find the hidden attacking plan for Black?

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[September 03, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Vadim Zvjaginsev:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Exchange Variation

[Line 172 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bg5 Be7 without 6. Nf3]

Unlike the other variations of the Queen’s Gambit Declined, in the Exchange Variation white knight can be deployed to e2 after Bd3, which seems to create certain problems for Black, though Kramnik’s probably begs to differ, as this line has recently been his weapon of choice.

A very common follow-up is 6. e3 O-O 7. Bd3 Nbd7 8. Nge2 Re8 9. O-O, when 9… Nf8 seems inaccurate as it allows White a nice trick: 10. b4!, and the following line obviously favors White: 10… Bxb4 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. Nxd5! Qxd5 13. Qa4. That’s why the players of Black should opt for 9… c6 first, and only after 10. Qc2 should they choose 10… Nf8. The classical plan for White begins with 11. f3 (preparing e3-e4), where Black has to be careful, though basically still has quite decent chances.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Rook on e8 is under attack, but Black has better ways to proceed than to cover it with Bd7. How can Black create big problems to his opponent?

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[September 02, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Slaviša Brenjo:
Ruy Lopez, Morphy Defense (incl. Wormald & Mackenzie Variations and Exchange Variation Deferred)

[Line 384 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 without 5. O-O, 5. d3]

Besides the two most popular choices: 5. O-O covered in Lines 386-413 and 5. d3, Black needs to be prepared for several rare lines of Ruy Lopez.

With the Wormald Variation (5. Qe2) White avoids the Open Variation and plans, after castling short, to put the Rook on d1 and prepare the d2-d4 advance. Black usually continues with 5… b5 6. Bb3, and now has a choice between 6… Be7 and 6… Bc5.

Mackenzie Variation (5. d4) aims to initiate a very concrete play at an early stage of the game. Nevertheless, Black is able to obtain quite good prospects with 5… exd4 6. O-O Be7 7. Re1 b5 8. Bb3 d6.

Exchange Variation Deferred (5. Bxc6) is a slightly odd option for White, since the only drawback of knight’s placement on f6 is the inability to play f7-f6. Anyway, the game tends to become closed, e.g. like after 5… dxc6 6. d3 Bd6 7. Nbd2 Be6 8. O-O O-O.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White has just taken the Bishop on b4, expecting his opponent to do the same, but there is something better. How can Black make use of the e-file and seize the initiative?

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