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This month we essentially have only two systems covered. The ever popular Fianchetto variation gives Black has a broad choice. The fashionable ‘Karpov’ System has been causing problems, but this month Black brings a couple of new ideas to the table.

Download PGN of February ’20 KID games

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Fianchetto System, Early ...Bf5 Variation 1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 g6 4.Nc3 Bf5 [E61]

1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 g6 4.Nc3 Bf5 This line remains popular. Usually we see black players using it against less experienced opponents, which is hardly the case in Navara, D - Kadric, D. 5.h3!? Ne4 6.Nxe4 Bxe4 7.Ng5! Bf5 8.e4 Bd7 9.Be3 is a decent try for White, but not one that would have Black abandoning the line. Navara plays very creatively and gets a winning position, but then the tables turn, and then turn again.

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

In the popular line with 8.dxe5, the recapture 8...Nxe5 is slightly unusual. Kukk is a bit of an upset machine in this line. Last year we saw 9.b3 (Avrukh's repertoire choice) 9...Qe7 in Predojevic, B - Kukk, S, but in Fridman, D - Kukk, S White preferred 9.Nxe5:

After 9...dxe5 10.Qxd8 Rxd8 11.Bg5 Rd4 12.b3 c6 White can play for an edge, but the game’s 13.Rfd1 looks pretty harmless and Black gradually took control against his esteemed opponent.

Panno - 6...Nc6 7.Nc3 Rb8 8.Bf4 h6 [E63]

In response to 8.Bf4, the funny move 8...h6 is popular, but I confess that I've never been a big fan.

White has done well with 9.d5 and especially the mirrored response 9.h3. In L'Ami, E - Mamedov, R. White goes for 9.Qc1!? Then 9...g5 is consistent, but as always, a bit weakening. Personally I do not find this 'Grob' ...h6...g5 structure to be attractive and 9.Qc1 looks like a good try for an advantage.

Yugoslav Exchange 8.dxc5 dxc5 [E65]

As we have seen, this symmetrical line can often lead to complications. 9.Bf4 Be6 10.Ne5 Na5 11.Qa4:

Now the solid 11...Nd7 is the traditional move, but Black can hardly try to win. In Yu, J - Paragua, M Black prefers 11...Nh5 This is the sharpest try, but it is also riskier. In the game the risk pays off.

Classical Fianchetto Variation 8...c6 9.h3 Qa5 10.Re1 [E69]

In the main line with 10.Re1 exd4 11.Nxd4 Ne5 12.Bf1 Re8 13.Be3 c5 is an interesting alternative to 13...Be6. After 14.Nb3 Qb4 15.a3 Qb6 16.Nd2 Qd8!? Black tries the prophylactic retreat in Sargsyan, A - Sturua, Z. White responds well with the direct 17.f4! but later everything surprisingly unravels.

Karpov System 4.e4 d6 5.h3 with 6.Be3 [E71]

We have seen that 5.h3 0-0 6.Be3 has caused some headaches for Black in the last few years. We have two games this month with 6...Nc6:

A rare move which was clearly prepared. I think this will prove to be more of a surprise weapon than a theoretical antidote, however. 7.d5 is clearly critical. 7...Ne5 8.f4 Ned7 and the world #2 went for 9.g4!? in Caruana, F - Firouzja, A. After 9...c6 10.Nf3 cxd5 11.cxd5 b6!? looks quite bad at first as it weakens the c6-square, but it is a top engine suggestion. The position blows up very quickly and is dynamically balanced for a long time, but then one mistake by the Iranian prodigy is all it takes for the American to seize control for good.

In Studer, N - Cheparinov, I White tries the calmer 9.Bd3 but this is well met by 9...e5! 10.dxe6 fxe6 when I already I like Black's position.

Karpov System 4.e4 d6 5.h3 0-0 6.Be3 c5 7.Nf3 [E90]

The move order with 5.h3 0-0 6.Be3 c5 7.Nf3 is considered some sort of Classical system (E90). Here 7...cxd4 8.Nxd4 has done very well for White, as 8...Nc6 is a Maroczy, and 8...b6 has done poorly. In Tabatabaei, M - Kotronias, V Black plays the subtle 8...a6 - a rare move which has scored well - and wins very quickly.

Now the game’s 9.Be2 is the only move that White has tried, but we must ask why can't White play as he does vs 8...b6? We investigate...

Until next month, David

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