This is an experimental, even risky, part of the website. I will gaze into my crystal ball, and offer a speculative reading of the trends in our various opening markets. Now if you want a report, then you should turn, sorry, click to What’s New. There you will have hard facts, about which games have attracted attention or raised nasty questions, and which lines are currently popular.
Here, I will talk a bit about hunches. Try to anticipate where a trend may be leading. Suggest a line that may have gone out of fashion without a particularly good reason. I may be wrong, I may be trying to get some of you to go out and act as guinea pigs (no, not really). No guarantees, just food for thought. If an opening isn't here, it has either been very quiet or extremely theoretical.
Unless you are a serious theory lover, you probably would like some options to the extremely hazardous minefield some of the main lines are becoming. As Black, I would suggest taking a tour to Slovakia against the Modern Exchange Variation and trying Nc6 instead of these manic lines grabbing a-pawns.
Personally, I lean towards the very odd variation with Bc7. I don't know why this isn't more popular.
There have been some alarming developments in the line I recommend above, and it is beginning to look like theory is already starting to focus on it. This means that if you are looking for a real sideline, it might not suit you, since with the "construction" underway on this particular road, it may soon become a highway, too. Nevertheless, there are still some relatively unpaved tracks which explorers may wish to study.
White players looking to get out of the theory race can have a look at 5.Na4, even though that nearly qualifies as something hot. A more likely way for White to avoid reams of analysis and achieve a small advantage is the system with exchanging on d5 and playing Bd2, which has been a pet weapon of Korchnoi of late. This has long had a harmless reputation, but it is both safe and more dangerous than it looks.
Of course, the sad thing about fighting a sound and topical defence is that a sideline is highly unlikely to produce stunning results. The good thing is that combining an element of surprise with a line you know and/or like, can be more effective than beating your brains out against a theoretical wall that will likely prove to be just as sound for Black.
I have long had the suspicion that plans with an early b4 - often very early - give White very nice chances for a non-theoretical route to a slight advantage. This now seems to be showing signs of acceptance, and I think I detect a coming trend here. Both sides should acquaint themselves with this line.
I have said that I think that this is a greatly underestimated defence. For those seeking a way to put it under pressure, I would have to vote for the variation with 4.e4 (Nxe5 5.f4). This line entails a certain amount of risk for white, since there is a very real danger of overextending. For this reason alone I doubt that it will ever be very popular.
To put it another way, I would feel slightly uneasy on either side of it, a sure sign that it is a critical line that would reward some work. I think that studying this line has several attractions: it is a genuinely threatening variation which can quickly lead to a clear advantage; and, it is relatively rarely chosen and can often serve as a "counter-surprise" weapon. Also, Black's most natural reply may well not be best.
Add to that interesting options that arise from delaying 5.f4 for a move, and you should have plenty to keep Black busy.
Przewoznik warned about it years ago, but the idea hasn't caught on. The idea of accepting the gambit and then playing g3/Bg2 with White still remains virtually untested. What evidence there is suggests that Black should shift to playing a6 and setting up a kind of Blumen-Benko. Explorers should make note of this possibility, and gambiteers should be ready to react.