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This month we have all decisive games, which is always fun. We look at several unusual lines, especially from White. There is also a Big Idea for Black in a topical line which I had not noticed before, despite having faced White’s system myself this year.

Download PGN of December ’19 KID games

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Modern Defence Averbakh System 4...e5 [A42]

1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.c4 d6 4.Nc3 e5!? is a solid alternative to the pure King’s Indian, when 5.d5 is just one option:

Black has played just about every reasonable legal move here. The 'main line' is 5...f5 6.exf5 gxf5 7.Qh5+ Kf8, but in Sarana, A - Xiong, J Black went for 5...a5!? which is a typical idea. Even if White can claim a theoretical edge, this is quite playable for Black.

‘e3 Poison’ 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.e3 [E61]

The 'e3- Poison' is essentially an Anti-Grunfeld. After 4...0-0 5.Be2 Black has a lot of choice, but 5...c5 is a principled answer, 6.d5 d6:

In recent years games have shown that it is not such a disadvantage for White to have played the modest e2-e3 in this classical Benoni structure. The pawn is not subject to attack as it would be on e4. Nevertheless, I do not think Black should experience problems in these positions, and in Topalov, V - Vachier Lagrave, M Black had a full share of the chances after 7.Nc3 e6 8.Nd2 Na6 9.0-0 Re8.

Sämisch System 6...e5 [E87]

In the old main line with 6.Be3 e5 7.d5, the blocking move 7...c5 is supposed to be bad, and it probably is!

Pridorozhni, A - Golubov, S proves to be quite interesting. 8.Qd2 From my youth I remember that White was supposed to play 8.g4!; while the simple 8.Bd3 also scores well. 8...Nh5 9.Nge2 9...f5 10.exf5 gxf5 11.0-0-0 Nd7 leaves Black on the edge, but White’s mistakes prove costly.

Classical Variation 6...Bg4 [E91]

We have a couple of games this month in this popular sideline. After 7.Be3 Nfd7 White has tried just about everything here:

The most popular are 8.Rc1 and 8.Ng1, but we’ll look at a couple of obvious moves which are less common.

In Inarkiev, E - Vogt, L we see White play 8.Qd2. The thematic 8...c5 was Black’s response, but I think this is probably dubious and 8...e5 should be preferred, as 9.d5 leaves Black with an inferior Benoni against normal play. In the game White instead went for a direct attack.

White simply played 8.0-0 in Esipenko, A - Sadikhov, U. This obvious move was generally considered to be a bit 'naive', but the young Russian has a clear idea in mind. 8...Nc6 9.d5 Bxf3 is almost always met with 10.Bxf3, but then 10... Na5 11.Be2 Bxc3 12.bxc3 e5 is well-known and considered to be unclear and quite playable for Black. In the game White played 10.gxf3!? which certainly looks more challenging.

Classical, Exchange Variation 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Bg5 c6 [E92]

The pawn sacrifice with 9...c6 is popular, but I prefer the main alternatives 9...Re8 and 9...Nbd7. Even though Black is sacrificing a pawn and it seems ambitious, I think it is hard to play for a win, despite the result of Stefansson, V - Gretarsson, H. One of White’s main tries is 10.Nxe5 Re8 11.0-0-0 Na6 12.Rd6:

Recently Berg played 12...Rxe5, but this is considered to be a poor choice. The main line is 12...Be6 which must be stronger. After 13.f4 h6 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.Rhd1 Bxe5 16.fxe5 Black is holding, but with very few chances to play for a win. Instead the game saw 15.Nf3 which allows Black to spice things up with 15...Bxc3! 16.bxc3 Nc5.

Classical Petrosian 7.d5 a5 8.Bg5 h6 9.Be3 [E92]

In Kramnik’s line 9.Be3 Ng4 10.Bd2 f5 11.exf5 gxf5 12.h3 Nf6 13.Qc1 f4 14.g3 e4 15.Nh4 e3 16.fxe3 fxg3 17.Ng6 has by now been seen many times:

The original game saw 17...Rf7?! while 17...Re8 is clearly the main line now. There is another option, however. In Balacek, T - Kovalev, V Black played 17...g2!? I never noticed this move even though it was played as long ago as 2015. Black has scored very well here, but as in the main line, some questions remain.

8th move deviations 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.Be3 [E97]

The move 8.Be3 is reminiscent of the Gligoric variation with 7.Be3. Black can lunge with 8...Ng4 or play the solid 8...Re8 as he did in Pelletier, Y - Van Delft, M . The Frenchman uncorked 9.Qd3N A new, unusual looking move. Black reacts well at first with 9...Ng4 10.Bg5 f6 11.Bh4 g5 12.Bg3 Nh6, but then both sides make strange mistakes.

Until next month, David

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