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Hello, This update covers various new opening ideas, although I have to emphasize that the Catalan is really very popular at the moment and there are many ideas that both sides are trying to implement.

Download PGN of April ’18 1 d4 d5 2 c4 games

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Exchange Slav Mainline 6.Bf4 Bf5 [D14]

We start our survey with the main Slav Exchange line 3.cxd5 cxd5 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bf4 Bf5 7.e3 e6, met by 8.Qb3 which is a popular move recently, and I have also used it successfully myself:

In our first game, Gajevski, G -Matlakov, M Euro Individual Ch 2018, the Polish GM came well prepared and launched interesting complications which ended up in his favor. Objectively the line is dangerous, but Black probably has ways to obtain counterplay. This game is worth serious investigation.

Queen’s Gambit Accepted 3.e4 Nf6 4.e5, 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ne2 [D20]

Our next game is a Queen’s Gambit Accepted which I havn't cover much while doing the 1.d4 d5 2.c4 section. So, after 3.e4 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.Bxc4 Nb6 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ne2 Bg4 8.Be3 Qd7 9.Nbc3:

We are following Jakovenko, D - Alekseenko, K, which was also from the European Individual Ch. 2018. I must say that Black didn't even come close to getting any counterplay, really convincing play from White.

Vienna Variation Mainline 7.Bxc4, 10.Bb5+ Bd7 [D39]

Another Vienna line (which I also covered in a previous update) occurred in Aronian, L - Bluebaum, M GRENKE Chess Classic 2018, in the obviously popular system after 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 c5 7.Bxc4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Qa5 10.Bb5 but instead of the 10...Nbd7 we saw previously, this time 10...Bd7 was played:

This time Aronian was White and he found a new idea, but the German GM defended well. There were a few interesting moments in the game but the Vienna Variation is alive and certainly seems OK.

Semi-Tarrasch Mainline 11 Bc4 Nd7 [D41]

Another interesting game in the Semi Tarrasch is now our focus. Popularized by both Kramnik and Carlsen this line is getting a huge boost in popularity, after 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 cxd4 8.cxd4 Bb4+ 9.Bd2 Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 0-0 11.Bc4 Nd7 12.0-0 b6 13.Rad1 Bb7 14.Rfe1 Rc8 15.Bb3:

Now we follow Mamedyarov, S - Ding Liren Berlin 2018. White opted for an aggressive setup but Ding Liren played well, and Mamedyarov failed to find the right plan at the critical moment of the game and lost. Of course, it is possible to find better plans and you can see them in the notes, but the Semi-Tarrasch is doing really well at the moment.

Semi Slav Meran Variation 10.e4 c5 11.d5 Qc7 [D48]

Next, two games where we will deal with the main line Semi Slav.

Game 5, Dzagnidze, N - Gelfand, B Gibraltar 2018, is a main line in the Meran that you don't often see in tournaments but as it is a sharp line it is necessary to cover it. After 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.0-0 a6 10.e4 c5 11.d5:

Gelfand simply came well prepared and he couldn't be successfully challenged. Another good example of the solidity of this Semi Slav.

Semi Slav Meran Variation 9.e4 c5 10.e5 [D49]

Ftacnik, L - Navara, D TCh Slovakia 2018, is another very important line, let's see... after 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6 9.e4 c5 10.e5:

Incidentally, we saw that Gelfand used a slightly modified move order exactly to avoid this line. After the further 10...cxd4 11.Nxb5 axb5 12.exf6 gxf6 13.0-0 Qb6 14.Qe2 b4 15.Rd1 Bd6!?:

Navara used this rare option and quickly got the upper hand, but the critical moment occurs at move 20 and is a real challenge to his idea. In any case, an interesting game.

Catalan Opening 5...Nc6 6.0-0 Rb8 [E04]

Finally, games 7 and 8 deal with the Catalan Opening.

First, Mamedyarov, S - Caruana, F Berlin 2018, featured the interesting subtlety 4.g3 dxc4 5.Bg2 Nc6 6.0-0 Rb8 7.e3 Be7!?:

This is a very interesting and highly complex game, featuring a double-pawn sac. Readers will find some very interesting moments inside, and it is a line worth deeper investigation.

Catalan Opening 5...c5 6.0-0 Nc6 7.Qa4 [E04]

Erigiasi, A - Le Quang Liem HD Bank Cup 2018, involves another important line in the Catalan, after 5...c5 6.0-0 Nc6 7.Qa4 Bd7 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qd3 c4:

Black managed to keep the game balanced, but some questions still remain (for both sides, though) and overall I didn't see any problems for Black.

Best wishes, GM Milos Pavlovic.

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