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This month we look at a couple of critical oppositions as well as a popular sideline.

Download PGN of January '11 KID games

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Fianchetto Variation

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 Rb8 8.h3 a6 9.e4 b5 10.cxb5!? axb5 11.Re1 is another recommendation of Avrukh from his Grandmaster Repertoire 2. After 11...e6! 12.Qc2 b4 13.Ne2 Bb7 14.Nf4 Panno expert Mark Hebden plays an uncommon move which seems fully sufficient for Black, 14...Na5!?:

This is a rare, but interesting move which was not considered by Avrukh. See Swapnil - Hebden.

5.Bd3 Variation

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 0-0 5.Bd3 d6 6.Nge2 We have a couple of games this month in this flexible variation, which has always been a popular sideline:

In Malakhov - Grischuk, Black plays in Benoni style. with 6...c5 7.d5 e6. This looks fine for Black, but he must be willing to either transpose to a Benoni or play some unorthodox looking moves.

Another approach against the 5.Bd3 system is 6...e5 (personally I prefer 6...Nc6 pressuring d4 and aiming for piece play), and our second game in this line considers the classical 7.d5 a5!?:

In Ivanchuk - Nyzhnyk Black plays akin to the main line of the Petrosian Variation. The newly minted Grandmaster gives Ivanchuk a run for his money, but the veteran's queen sacrifice poses the youngster enough problems to solve, especially considering that this was a rapid game.

Sämisch Variation

In the next game we see more evidence that Black's position is not so simple after the pawn grab in the 6...c5 Sämisch.

Here 2700+ Vitiugov grabs the pawn, and then returns it at an opportune moment to secure the bishop pair. 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 10.Nge2 Nd7 11.Be3 Nde5 12.Nf4 b6 (I also search for an improvement for White in the main line 12...Nb4) 13.Rc1 e6 14.Be2 Ba6 15.b3 Nb4 16.0-0 Ned3 17.Nxd3 Nxd3 18.Rcd1!:

White returns the pawn to gain the bishop pair and puts the squeeze on in Vitiugov - Khismatullin.

Makagonov Variation

A line that has been considered to be safe for Black in the main variation of the Makagonov may not survive close scrutiny, 6.Nf3 e5 7.d5 Nh5 8.Nh2 Qe8 9.Be2 Nf4 10.Bf3 f5 11.g3 Nxh3 12.Bg2:

12...Qf7 is supposed to be a simple solution for Black in this line, but 13.Qf3!? calls this into question. This move has been ignored a bit, but it has shown up in some correspondence games. In Zhigalko - Vachier Lagrave I believe White slipped a bit, but Black missed his chances after playing quite well.

7...Na6 Variation

Black has been scoring well here against Kramnik's 10.Re1, but White can still play for an edge. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 Na6 7.0-0 e5 8.Be3 Ng4 9.Bg5 Qe8 10.Re1 exd4 11.Nd5 c6 (we have also looked at the alternatives 11...d3 and 11...f6) 12.Ne7+ Kh8 13.Nxc8 Rxc8 14.Nxd4 Nf6 15.f3!? is considered in Ashwin - Bojkov. Although Black plays the accurate 15...Qe5! even this may not be enough to fully equalize against accurate play.


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.Ne1 Nd7 10.Nd3 f5 11.Bd2:

Here 11..fxe4!? is a solid way to avoid heavy theory. Jan Markos expresses his concern over this move (from the white side) in his 2006 book "Beat the KID" and in Maslik - Markos he successfully backs up his opinions from the other side of the board.

We have not seen 15.Nb5 in a little while, but it remains dangerous, 8.d5 Ne7 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.Nd3 f5 11.Bd2 Nf6 12.f3 f4 13.c5 g5 14.Rc1 Ng6 15.Nb5 Rf7 16.Ba5 b6 17.cxb6 cxb6 18.Be1 a6 (This move is the most common. I await more tests with 18...g4!) 19.Nc3 a5. In Gyimesi - Polzin White played the direct 20.Nb5 and gained some advantage.

Until next month, David

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