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The last month of the year brought us more interesting games in the KID, and most of them were positional. Sometimes I miss those games in the Classical mainlines where Black is pushing his kingside pawns and going for mate, but it seems those times are gone now. The new 'To be or not to be' this month was '...f7-f5 or not ...f7-f5?'
In one of the games Black actually went for ...f5 and a few moves later was lost. In some other games Black refrained from pushing ...f5 and played more solidly. Overall, White is doing very well in all the games we will see but it was not because of the opening.

Download PGN of December ’23 KID games

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Classical Fianchetto Variation 6...Nbd7 7.0-0 e5 8.h3 Re8 [E68]

In Kempinski, R. - Gupta, A we have the Classical Fianchetto variation with 9 dxe5:

This line is not dangerous and Black comfortably equalised out of the opening. Soon the queens were traded and with only one open d file it looked like it would be a draw. However, Black went for 16...f5 and then he played 'a Fisher' with 19....Bxh3 which allowed White to trap the bishop, just as Spassky did, but with 20 g4. Black could still hold but he probably missed 24 Bd5+ when White had a winning endgame with an extra exchange. Somehow, however, Black managed to create some counterplay and in the end White missed a win and instead was even suddenly checkmated, and lost!

Karpov Variation 6.Be3 e5 7.d5 a5 8 g4 [E73]

Smirnov, P. - Tsydypov, Z was in the Karpov Variation and White opted for the line with 9.g5. Black went with the plan of 10....f5 but later White made a nice, even if simple, novelty, 16. Nf3:

This leads to the type of positions which I see recently where the engine thinks White is almost winning but all the GMs think is unclear. It was complicated but overall always close to equal. Then Black played one move which gave White a chance to get a big edge but it was not so obvious and he went for the repetition instead.

Karpov Variation 6.Be3 Nc6 7.d5 Ne5 8.f4 Neg4 9.Bd2 [E73]

Gilevich, A.- David, A was in the modern Averbakh line which I call the dancing knight. White went for the very aggressive line with 12 g4 but Black was well prepared.

. The game was very sharp but in an equal position Black did not calculate one forced line properly - he won the white queen but gave too many pieces away. After that White managed to win the game without problems.

Sämisch System, Panno Variation 6.Nge2 Nc6 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 Bd7 [E83]

So, W. - Rapport, R was in the Saemisch Panno variation. White went for the 9 Rb1 line and soon after it was a new position.

Black allowed White to win space in the centre but then opened the c-file and got good counterplay. However, suddenly he decided to go for some complications, and gave up material but could not get an attack and then went into a lost endgame where White converted easily and duly won.

Classical 7...Re8 8.d5 Nbd7 [E91]

The game between Gelfand, B. - Van Forrest, J was in the Classical with 7...Re8. A very rare line which led to White closing the center and Black playing more solidly, instead of going for ...f7=f5 he went 15...c5 and the game developed on the queenside:

White was pressing but Black defended well and in the end it was a draw.

Classical, Donner Variation 6...c6 7.0-0 e5 8.d5 [E94]

Matlakov, M. - Kalegin, E was in the Classical with 6...c6 and a couple of moves later the centre was blocked with 8...c5:

These positions also arise from a Benoni where Black goes ...e6 and later ...e5. Usually there is a long battle because it is not easy for either player to open the game. Here, however, was maybe the idea of the month although it looked very odd. White went 9.Kh1, a new move, then 10 Rg1:

This seems like waste of time and Black happily went ...f5. Soon, however, White opened the game with 12 g4, took full control and quickly won. No doubt it was excellent preparation but Black should have skipped ...f5.

Classical 7...exd4 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 c6 10.Bg5 Qb6 [E94]

Gelfand, B. - Mamedov, R was in the Classical line with 7...exd4. The game was quiet until Black decided to trade material with 16....Bxc4:

This turned out to be a mistake and White gained an edge. In the resulting endgame Black could not defend well and his pawns were taken one by one and White won the game.

Classical Variation 7...Bg4 8.d5 a5 [E94]

Cantor, G. - Chigaev,M was also in the Classical and another rare line, this time 7...Bg4. White closed the center and Black went with the knight for the c5 outpost which is a pattern in all those new lines.

There was no ...f7-f5 but instead Black traded pieces and took the game into an equal endgame. At some point Black just made an odd blunder, however, and lost the game.

Till next month, Marian

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Don't hesitate to share your thoughts and suggestions. Any queries or comments to the KID Forum, or to me directly at (subscribers only) would be welcome.