In the Panno, there is still interest in 8.Qd3 as advocated by Avrukh. After 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.Nf3 d6 5.g3 0-0 6.Bg2 Nc6 7.0-0 a6 8.Qd3 Bd7 is one of several reasonable moves for Black. The alternative 8...Nd7 was featured recently in Swinkels-Turov, where Turov won a nice game with Black. In Turov - Van Kampen White tried 9.Rd1 which is a novelty, but Black responded very well with 9...b5!:
In the Classical Variation 1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.g3 d6 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.0-0 c6 7.Nc3 Qa5 8.e4 e5 9.h3 Nbd7 10.Re1 exd4 11.Nxd4 Ne5 12.Bf1 Be6!? is an interesting idea:
Although this has scored quite well for Black, I have some doubts, theoretically at least. The positions that arise are complicated, which may suit Black, and indeed, in Narciso Dublan - Almeida Quintana, Black does not experience any problems.
Although a frequent Grunfeld player, Anand's second Ganguly has recently taken up the Panno Variation against the Sämisch. After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 Nc6 6.Be3 0-0 7.Qd2 a6 8.Nge2 Rb8 9.h4 h5 10.0-0-0 b5 11.Nd5!? (11.Bh6 is the real main line) the play becomes very sharp:
White plays a novelty on move 18, but in Gerzhoy - Ganguly the Indian Grandmaster does a better job in the complications that follow.
Another critical line in the Panno is the fashionable 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.e4 d6 4.d4 Bg7 5.f3 0-0 6.Nge2 Nc6 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 Rb8 9.Rc1, which is considered to be rather annoying these days:
White can probably secure some theoretical edge, but the positions that arise are strategically complicated and all of the pieces remain, so there is a lot of scope for original play. In Ponomariov - Ganguly Black plays 9...e6!? which, incidentally, was played by Grischuk against Anand. This is an interesting move which avoids the most common lines. Black held the game pretty easily, although his play was rather passive.
I think the 9...Nbd7 line of the Exchange Variation is playable if Black is hoping to complicate the game, but he should not forget that he can lose too! After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Bg5 10.0-0-0 Rf8 11.Nd5 c6 12.Ne7+ Kh8 13.Be3:
I suspect that 13...b6!? is stronger than the main line 13...Re8. In Richter - Mamedov Black plays the latter and loses against a lower rated player without ever obtaining the slightest bit of counterplay.
A big upset in the US Chess League came about when Black tried an unusual move against one of the top practitioners of the Gligoric Variation, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 exd4 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 c6 10.Bf2 d5 11.exd5 cxd5 12.c5 (A more common move order is 12.0-0 and perhaps this is simply better. After 12...Nc6 13.c5 we reach the main line.) 12...Nbd7!?:
In Shulman - Felecan this move works like a charm and Black quickly gains the upper hand.
Something odd occurred in Rapport - Ivanisevic when the young Grandmaster found a small tactic a little too tempting following 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.d4 0-0 6.Be3 e5 7.Be2 Ng4 8.Bg5 f6 9.Bh4 Nd7. This is an uncommon line and White is overly provoked, as although 10.Nxe5?! is perhaps not that bad for White, it does lose any chance of obtaining an advantage after 10...Nxf2!
In Gelfand - Nakamura, the American plays a very risky line that I happen to advocate (with a word of warning!) in the forthcoming Attacking Chess: The King's Indian, 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 h5!?:
This line was pioneered by Fedorov. Black seizes some space, but he allows the h-file to be opened. Sometimes Black can fight for the h-file himself, but he must take care to not come under a strong attack.
Until next month, David