In the Panno Variation 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 0-0 5.Bg2 d6 6.Nc3 Nc6 7.0-0 a6 Black must seriously consider 8.Qd3:
It looks strange to me, but its popularity will increase because of its recent recommendation in a popular repertoire series. In Garcia - Martinez Duany Black replied with the logical looking 8...Bf5!? but it is not easy to find improvements to deal with White's simple play.
In Pavlov - Kryakvin I take a look at some of the move order finesses of both sides when Black wants to play the Yugoslav Variation without using a Panno move order, by 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 0-0 5.Bg2 d6 6.Nc3 c5 7.0-0 Nc6:
One argument against Black's choice of moves is 8.dxc5. This should not be too frightening, but it is annoying. 8...dxc5 9.Be3 Be6 should ultimately equalize for Black, but he must be careful and there are few winning prospects.
Some traps work over and over again. 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.0-0 d6 6.c4 Nbd7 7.Nc3 e5 8.h3 c6 9.e4 exd4 10.Nxd4 Qa5 11.Re1 Ne5 12.Bf1 Re8 13.Be3 (an old tactical sequence in the important 13.Rb1 is also given a fresh look) 13...Be6 14.Nxe6 Rxe6:
Now 15.a3? just loses a pawn, although both Aronian (in 1999, but he was still 2500) and Karpov (twice!!) fell into the same trap. White is also a very strong player in the recent game Cordova - Becerra Rivero, where we look at some details.
The 6...c5 pawn sacrifice has not been covered on our site in a while. It is still quite acceptable, but not everyone wants to rush into an endgame a pawn down. After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0-0 6.Be3 c5 7.dxc5 dxc5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Bxc5 Nc6 we look at 10.Nge2 Nd7 11.Bf2!?:
In Howell - Vachier Lagrave two young Grunfeld experts face off... in a King's Indian! The Makagonov System (by transposition from a Réti/English) was a surprising choice from Howell, but he does get an advantage. 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.d4 0-0 6.h3 e5 7.d5 Nbd7 This is playable of course but it is not very flexible. 8.Bg5 h6 9.Be3 Nc5 10.Nd2 a5 and now instead of 11.Be2 or 11.a3, White goes for the immediate 11.g4 and gets some edge.
In the very rich Mar del Plata Variation White has three main lines in 9.Ne1, 9.Nd2 and 9.b4. Then there are some secondary lines like 9.Bg5, 9.Bd2, and 9.a4. After that we get into a different realm of possibilities... 9.Rb1!?:
While this is undoubtedly playable, it should not be too scary for Black theoretically. Alas, the richness of chess... See Nikolaidis - Jankovic.
Black continues to play 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:
I still do not believe in this line, although Black always wins! 10.c5 f5 11.Nd2 Nf6 12.f3 f4 13.Nc4 g5 14.Ba3 (14.a4 is much more common, and more flexible.) 14...Ng6 15.b5 dxc5! 16.Bxc5 Rf7 17.a4 h5 occurred in Bykhovsky - Ivanisevic, when White now makes a typical mistake with 18.h3? and gets mated.
After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 0-0 5.Nf3 d6 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.b4 Nh5 10.Re1 f5 11.Ng5 Nf6 12.f3 c6 13.Be3 the move 13...h6 does not have the best reputation. Following 14.Ne6 Bxe6 15.dxe6 Black will pick up the e6-pawn eventually, but if White plays energetically he can claim some advantage:
Korobov - Aguettaz is a model display of White's possibilities.
Until next month, David