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This month the Fianchetto Variation remains popular, while we also look at a mix of old and new lines.

Download PGN of December ’18 KID games

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Fianchetto Variation 6...Nc6 7.Nc3 e5 8.dxe5 [E62]

The hot line with 8.dxe5 dxe5 9.Bg5 Be6 shows no signs of waning. After 10.Qc1 Qc8 11.b3!? is not the most common, but White scores well. Then 11...Re8 12.Rd1 Bh3?! This is natural and at first the engines suggest it, but it is a 'known' inaccuracy:

White shows the way in Rozum, I - Savitskiy, S.

Fianchetto Variation Panno 6.Nc3 Nc6 7.0-0 a6 8.b3 Rb8 9.d5 [E63]

Another Avrukh special is 8.b3 a6 9.d5 Na5 10.Bg5 special which has unsurprisingly gained a lot of popularity. After 10...c5 11.dxc6 Black played 11...bxc6 in Erdos, V - Shevchenko, K, but 11...Nxc6 is more solid because of 12.c5! Although Black seemed prepared and managed to hold, White has improvements.

Classical Fianchetto - 7...Nbd7 8.e4 c6 9.b3!? exd4 10.Nxd4 [E68]

A few months ago we checked out this line. After 10...Nc5 11.f3 c6 12.Be3 d5! 13.Nxc6 bxc6 14.Bxc5 dxc4 Black has done ok here, but I suggested 15.f4! as the best try:

In Martinovic, S - Kotronias, V Black seems to be holding, but it does not look like much fun.

Fianchetto, Classical 6...Nbd7 7.0-0 e5 8.e4 c6 9.h3 Qb6 [E69]

After a weird move which seems to trip up White, we reach Kasparov’s old favourite line. Following 10.d5 Nc5 11.Re1 cxd5 12.cxd5 Bd7:

In Cioara, A - Berkes, F White played 13.Rb1 but I think 13.Bf1! is the best try. White covers the d3-square to allow Nd2-c4. I looked at this line a few years back myself and concluded that Black was fine but it is playable for both colours.

‘Lesser Averbach’ 5.Be2 0-0 6.Be3 [E73]

In Markzon, G - Vigorito, D my opponent, an older but experienced master, caught me a bit in the opening after 6...c5 7.dxc5 Somehow at the board I expected this, simply because I had not checked it. But even if I had, I would have been surprised! 7...Qa5 8.f3!? This move has scored surprisingly well:

Everyone, including myself, just gives 8.Bd2 when we have transposed to the Averbakh variation with White playing Be3-d2 rather than Bg5-d2. We'll actually cover this in the next game!

8...dxc5 9.e5! is the point - otherwise Black would quickly play ...Rd8 and ...Nc6-d4. There is a similar line in the Sämisch. I reacted with 9...Nfd7 10.f4 Nc6 11.Nf3 f6 which I think is pretty good and so the line should not be so dangerous after all.

Averbakh Variation 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 c5 7.dxc5 [E74]

We check out 7.dxc5!? in Petursson, M - Seeman, T. Petursson is a veteran of the Averbakh Variation. He even wrote a book on it about 20 years ago. This line is considered to be harmless, but just about everything has a bit of venom. 7...Qa5 8.Bd2 Qxc5 9.Nf3 Bg4 10.0-0 Nc6 11.Be3 Qa5 12.Rc1 is probably not much for White, but that Petursson is a Maroczy Bind specialist with Black, so he knows the structures!

Sämisch - 5...0-0 6.Be3 c5 7.Nge2 Nc6 8.d5 Na5!? [E81]

The sideline with 8.d5 Na5!? Still generates interest:

Now, 9.Nc1 is common, but I consider 9.Ng3 to be critical so we check this line too. In Perdomo, L - Di Berardino, D 9...e6 10.Be2 a6 11.0-0 exd5 12.cxd5 b5 looked fine for Black.

Classical - 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.Nd3 f5 11.f3 f4 12.Bf2 g5 Mainline [E99]

In Gurevich, D - Brattain, M, two players that I have known for a long time, face off. I worked with Mika for many years. Here he manages to beat the veteran Grandmaster Dmitry Gurevich, after Korchnoi's move 13.Nb5 Dmitry worked with the legend in the past and he has played this several times. Nowadays the solution is well-known: 13...b6 14.b4 a6 15.Nc3 Rf6!:

Usually this barbaric idea of ...Rf6-h6 and ...Qe8-h5 has to include the move ...a6 to stop Nb5, but here it has already been played, with a tempo to boot.

Until next month, David

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