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Now for something completely different. It’s been quite a while since we’ve reviewed the Black Knights’ Tango, so to make up for the neglect, this month’s update is entirely devoted to the subject!
Although the Tango isn’t a mainline option, it has been chosen by strong grandmasters, especially as a surprise weapon in rapid and blitz events. It was interesting to discover how modern engines assess some of the previously critical lines.

Download PGN of February ’23 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Tango: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 Nc6 [A50/E10]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 Nc6:

A) Tango 3 Nf3 e6 4 a3 g6 5 Nc3 Bg7 6 e4 d6 [E10]

This remains a key line of the Tango, and especially with the alternative move order 2...e6 3 Nf3 Nc6!?. Essentially, we have a King’s Indian with the extra moves a2-a3 and ...e6, and with Black having played ...Nc6 earlier than usual. This leads to subtle differences that are worthy of study.

A1) 7 Be2 8 0-0 Re8!:

8...Re8! is the move by which Black tries to make use of ...e6. Black’s idea is to delay ...e5 for a move and play it under more favourable circumstances.

9 Re1 is covered in Ding Liren - Praggnanandhaa, R.

9 d5 is an important option, and this is covered in Di Berardino, D - Rakshitta, R.

A2) 7 h3 0-0 8 Bg5!

Just as White has numerous systems against the King’s Indian, against this Tango line there are alternatives to classical development with Be2 and 0-0. The evidence seen in Samadov, R - Suleymenov, A suggests that 7 h3 0-0 8 Bg5! is a promising option for White.

B) Tango 3 Nc3 [A50]

3 Nc3 e5 4 d5 Ne7 5 e4 Ng6:

This is another key position in the Tango.

B1) 6 a3!?

On the surface, this move looks a little slow, but preventing ...Bb4 is a serious option for White.

6...Bc5 7 b4! Bd4:

In the handful of games reaching this position, Black has a tremendous score. However, modern engines like White’s position after the exchange and pawn sacrifice 8 Nge2! Nxe4 9 Nxe4 Bxa1. See Reilly, T - Speck, N for analysis.

B2) 6 h4!:

This disruptor is still considered to be a critical test. Black should stop the h-pawn with 6...h5! - see the notes to Nesterov, A - Praggnanandhaa, R.

C) Tango 3 d5 Ne5 [A50]

The forcing nature of 3 d5 makes it a critical option, but it’s far less popular than either 3 Nf3 or 3 Nc3.

C1) 4 e4 e6 5 f4 Ng6:

This is the mirror image of Alekhine’s Defence, Four Pawns Attack, but far less popular. While Black certainly gains counterplay against the extended centre, this isn’t a bad option for White. See Dan, T - Llaneza Vega, M for analysis.

C2) 4 Nc3!?

This pawn offer has been Mamedyarov’s choice when facing the Tango. After 4...Nxc4!? (4...e6! is a safe alternative) 5 e4 Nb6 6 e5 Ng8:

White has promising compensation - see the analysis in Mamedyarov, S - Vlassov, N.

Till next time, John

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