In the Panno Variation the young Chinese player Ding Liren plays a very unusual move in one of the main lines. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nc3 d6 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.0-0 a6 8.b3 Rb8 9.Nd5 Nd7!?:
This is quite unusual but has its logic. Interestingly, Jangava's book on the Fianchetto King's Indian & Grunfeld considers 7 moves (!) for Black here, but 9...Nd7 is not one of them. Although Black loses the game to his 2700+ opponent, the idea is not necessarily bad and Black missed an early opportunity. See Wang Hao - Ding Liren.
The Gligoric is one of the best lines against the KID in my opinion, but its advantage is also its disadvantage! White keeps the tension, which makes things trickier for Black, but on the other hand White must be able to play many different types of positions. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Ng4 8.Bg5 f6 9.Bh4 Nc6 10.d5 Ne7 11.Nd2 Nh6 12.f3 c5 is one of the main lines of the Gligoric:
White has a fundamental choice here: he can change the pawn structure or he can play it the way it is. In the heavyweight battle, Gelfand - Radjabov, White eschews his favourite 13.Rb1 and plays 13.dxc6, which Ivanchuk used to defeat the same opponent in 2007. After 13...bxc6 14.b4 Be6 Gelfand tried the immediate 15.Nb3 (rather than Ivanchuk's 15.Bf2 d5 16.Nb3) but Black equalized rather easily.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Nf3 e5 7.Be3 Ng4 8.Bg5 f6 9.Bh4 g5 10.Bg3 Nh6 11.c5 is another topical variation. In Levin - Klimov, following 11...Nc6 12.cxd6 cxd6 White played 13.d5 (rather than 13.dxe5) but this seems cooperative to me and Black quickly seizes the initiative and wins rather easily.
Nunn's old favourite line, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Nf3 e5 7.Be3 h6!? Has resurfaced a bit the last few years, but I suspect this will not last. Although White gets some advantage in the main line of 8.0-0 Ng4 9.Bc1 Nc6 10.d5 Ne7 11. f5 12.Bxg4 fxg4 13.Be3 in the game Xu Jun - Zhang Xiaowen, Black is able to create enough confusion to grab the point. In the notes I reveal a little-used but dangerous continuation that would put me off the whole line for Black.
Classical 7.0-0 Na6
Kamsky plays the King's Indian when needing to try for a win against a Grandmaster. In one of the main lines 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Na6 8.Re1 Qe8 9.Bf1 Bg4 10.d5 Nb4:
White usually plays the safe 11.Be2 or the ambitious 11.a3. In Khachiyan - Kamsky White plays 11.Qb3. This move is rarely even mentioned, even though it wins a pawn. Kamsky shows that Black gets excellent long-term compensation for a small investment.
Here we see Kamsky on the White side of the King's Indian just a round later as the top two US players duel in a topical line of the Bayonet. After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.b4 Ne8 Kamsky does not want any part of Nakamura's preparation in the fashionable line 10.Nd2 f5 11.c5 Nf6 12.f3 f4 13.Nc4 with which his opponent won well known games against Beliavsky and Gelfand. Instead he plays 10.a4 f5 11.a5 Nf6 12.Bg5 Nh5 13.Nd2!? in Kamsky - Nakamura and gains a small edge.
The old line 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Nf3 0-0 5.e4 d6 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.b4 Nh5 10.Re1 f5 11.Ng5 Nf6 12.Bf3 c6 13.Be3 h6 14.Ne6 Bxe6 15.dxe6 fxe4 16.Nxe4 Nxe4 17.Bxe4 d5 has not seen much attention lately, but a couple of games caught my eye this month:
In Huang Qian - Ju Wenjun White played the unusual 18.Bc2!? instead of exchanging on d5 first. This led to some interesting independent play and we may see this idea again. The game Lalith - Rajesh saw another unusual idea after the normal 18.cxd5 cxd5 19.Bc2 b6 20.Qg4 e4 21.Rad1 Qc7 when White played 22.Ba4!? This idea has been seen before, although not in this position. The bishop is supposed to be out of play on d7, and maybe it is, but here Black was unable to prove it and eventually wound up in difficulties. Black should still be ok in these lines, but it is important to understand the positions even in the forgotten lines!
Until next month, David