[August 31, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Alatortsev Variation

[Line 062 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bf4 c6]

The Alatortsev Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined can be frequently seen on the highest level, which speaks enough of its reputation. As an alternative to the main 6. e3, White has 6. Qc2, aiming to delay development of the black Bishop to f5. Black’s best way to react is either 6… Nf6 or 6… Bd6, since moves like 6… g6 or 6… Bg4 seem insufficient for full equality.

On the other hand, after 6. e3 Black should proceed with 6… Bf5, where the most challenging attempt for White is 7. g4. Since after 7… Bg6 8. h4 Black gets into trouble, he should probably reply with 7… Be6. Here, White has a wide range of options, but 8. h4 is the biggest challenge to his opponent.

[Diagram: White to Move] Black is a pawn up, but also seriously behind in development. What is the best way for White to seize the initiative?

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[August 30, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Alapin Variation (incl. Barmen Defense)

[Line 417 : 1. e4 c5 2. c3 without 2… Nf6]

Line 417 deals with different Black’s reactions to the Alapin Variation of the Sicilian Defense. Detailed coverage of move 2… Nf6 can be found in our Lines 419-420, and the main focus of this line is the so-called Barmen Defense – 2… d5 3. exd5 Qxd5. Since moves like 4. Nf3 and 4. Na3 hardly pose any problems for Black, White usually continues 4. d4, where the most frequently played 4… Nf6 can be found in our Line 418.

For club level players we recommend the plan starting with 4… g6, then typically followed by Bg7, cxd4, Nf6 and O-O.

4… Nc6 5. Nf3 Bf5 leads to more complicated position, which is the reason why it has recently become popular among grandmasters.

Another popular choice for Black is 2… e6. White can transpose to the Advance Variation of the French Defense with 3. d4 d5 4. e5, but more frequently White opts for positions resembling the Tarrasch Variation of the French Defense with 3. d4 d5 4. exd5 exd5 5. Nf3.

Other Black’s options are not as reputable as the mentioned ones. Line 2… d6 certainly deserves attention, though White should be able to secure some small opening advantage in this variation.

[Diagram: Black to Move] White has just played an intermediate move Bf1-c4, preparing to capture the d4-pawn on the next move. How can Black thwart his opponent’s plan?

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[August 29, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Open Slav Defense, Czech Defense – Dutch Variation without 9. Qe2

[Line 107 : 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. e3 e6 7. Bxc4 Bb4 8. O-O Nbd7 without 9. Qe2]

The main line of the Dutch Variation of the Slav Defense is 9. Qe2 and it’s covered in our Line 108. Various options for White on 9th move can be found here.

The idea of 9. Nh4 is clear – to destroy Black’s light-squared Bishop. Black has the choice between leaving the Bishop on f5 with 9… O-O, offering the exchange on g6 with 9… Bg6, or trying to escape from the Knight with 9… Bg4. The last one typically leads to preferable positions for White, but the other two moves are regarded as equally good and solid.

After 9… O-O, apart from 10. Nxf5 exf5, White has other interesting options, such as 10. h3 and 10. f3.

Against 9… Bg6 White has tried 10. Nxg6, as well as postponing the capture on g6 with 10. g3, 10. Be2 or 10. Qb3, but in any case Black’s position is a tough nut to crack.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Black has sacrificed a piece and has a promising attack, though there’s only one path to a clear edge. What is the best continuation for him?

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[August 28, 2016] Updated Opening Articles by GM Boris Avrukh:
Pick of the Week: March/July/October 2015 Revisited

This time three articles have been updated, and we recommend the following three theoretically important key games:

Open Catalan Defense with 5… c5: B. Gelfand – Lu Shanglei, Moscow 2016

Caro-Kann Defense, Short Variation with 5… c5 6. Be3: L. Aronian – E. Tomashevsky, Berlin 2015

Sicilian Najdorf, Adams Attack: Stockfish 7 – Stockfish 7, Internet 2016

[Diagram: Black to Move] Stockfish 7  – Stockfish 7, Internet 2016. White’s bishop pair will soon become unstoppable if Black does not act quickly. Any ideas?

Click here to see the updated articles in our viewer: article 1, article 2 & article 3.


[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 14, 2016] Updated Opening Article by GM Borki Predojević:
February 2016 Revisited: Italian Game, Giuoco Pianissimo with 8. a4!?

This line is so hot that we had to update it just two weeks after the previous update. The most recent theoretically important game in this line is V. Anand – W. So, Saint Louis 2016, but this variation would be incomplete without multiple contributions from our trusty silicon friends. Let’ take a look:

[Diagram: Black to Move] Toltec 2 – Stockfish 310316, Internet (blitz) 2016. In the aforementioned line Black has to use his bishop pair to create some compensation for his opponent’s extra pawn. Exchanging pieces is thus usually in White’s favor, so Black has to quickly do something in the diagrammed position, before his opponent succeeds in his plan. Sacrificing bishop on h2 seems tempting, but after Kh1 there are too many Black pieces left hanging. Is that the right course of action for Black, or he should try something else? 

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