[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?

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[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?

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[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?

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[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…

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[November 11, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Old Sicilian (Miscellaneous)

[Line 422 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 without 3. Bb5, 3. d4]

In addition to 3. d4 (Lines 428-439) and 3. Bb5 (Lines 424-428), move 3. Nc3 is also quite popular.

Black’s common reaction 3… e5 is covered separately in our Line 423. If Black chooses 3… e6 or 3… a6 the game most often transposes to the Paulsen Variation.

After 3… d6, if White continues with 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Black has a viable alternative to 5… Nf6 (Lines 469-476) in 5… e5.

If Black opts for 3… g6, White can transpose to the Accelerated Dragon with 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 or respond with 4. Bc4 or 4. Bb5.

Move 3… Nf6 is the usual preference of the Lasker-Pelikan Variation aficionados, since it invites the most logical transposition: 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4. After 4. Bb5 probably the best option for Black is 4… Qc7 5. O-O Nd4 with mutual chances.

[Diagram: White to Move] H. Walsh – V. Turicnik, corr. 2005. White Knight and Rook are under attack, but if White plays accurately his kingside initiative will guarantee him an advantage.

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[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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