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This month I express my doubts concerning some lines that enjoy some popularity.

Download PGN of January '16 KID games

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Fianchetto Lesser Simagin Variation, 7...Bf5 [E62]

From the English Opening move order 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.0-0 d6 6.Nc3 Nc6 7.d4 Bf5:

I have not spent a lot of time on this line. I kind of like the idea, but just don't believe it should work. In reply 8.Bg5 is typical Magnus: White just wants to get a game so that he can flex his 2800+ muscles. After 8...Ne4 9.Nxe4 Bxe4 10.d5 Bxf3 11.exf3 Nd4 12.Re1 Re8 Magnus spent a long time on 13.Re4! in Carlsen - Yuffa.

Panno 8.Bf4 Rb8 9.Rc1 Bd7 [E63]

6...Nc6 7.Nc3 a6 8.Bf4 remains topical, 8...Rb8 9.Rc1 Bd7 10.Qd2 and here 10...Re8 has been played quite a bit, but I do not like it:

After 11.d5 (White has scored 100% with this move in the games in my database) 11...Na5 12.b3 c5 13.e4, the central strategy looks very promising, on the further 13...b5 14.e5! White quickly had a dream position in Hammer - Sigfusson.

Panno 8.h3 Rb8 9.e4 b5 10.d5 [E63]

6.0-0 Nc6 7.Nc3 a6 8.h3 Rb8 9.e4 b5 10.d5 b4 11.Ne2 Na5 12.Qc2 c6 13.Ned4 and now in Rambaldi - Korobov Black played 13...Bd7N. I doubt that this is an improvement on 13...Bb7 and in the game Black had to just try to hold-on against his lower rated opponent.

Makagonov 6.h3 [E90]

Subscriber Bill Schaefer writes in with a question regarding a comment by GM Shipov: "I liked the consistent work done by Evgeny Tomashevsky to kill off the King's Indian Defence in the variation with 5.Nf3 and 6.h3.  His opponents were serious and the number of decisive games was stunning. No, I don't think this is the end of the KID, but it's becoming harder and harder to play. After all, Tomashevsky has carried other players along with him."

We have seen the games of Tomashevsky on this site many times and of course there is something to what Shipov says. The King's Indian always faces such challenges. In the late 1990's, it was the Bayonet with 10.Re1 that was 'killing off' the King's Indian. I think the modern interpretation of the Makagonov is quite dangerous for Black, but also hard to handle for White, especially below 2700 level. The main thing is to be aware of White's advanced strategic ideas in order to combat them. The games of Ding Liren are important to follow for black players.

Newly minted 2700 player Maxime Rodstein is one of Tomashevsky's 'spiritual disciples'. After 6.h3 Na6 7.Be3 e5 8.d5 Nh5 9.g3 Qe8 10.Be2 f5 11.exf5 gxf5 12.Ng5 Nf6 13.Qd2 Black played 13...Bd7 in Rodshtein - Socko:

This is inaccurate according to Ding Liren, who has played it himself, better is 13...Nc5. After 14.0-0–0 Nc5 15.g4! White is able to execute all of his thematic ideas.

6.h3 e5 7.d5 Nh5 8.g3 a5 is common, but it still feels like mixing systems. Now 9.Bg5!? is practically a novelty:

White has some very sneaky ideas. After 9...Qe8 10.Be2 Na6 11.Nd2 Nf6 12.g4 Nd7 would be a book position but here it should be Black's move! White lost a tempo on g3-g4 but Black lost two tempi on ...Nh5-f6-d7. In Tomashevsky - Yuffa Black played 11...Nc5 instead, and although he lost, his position was probably ok at some point.

Petrosian 7...Na6 8.Bg5!? [E92]

7.d5 Na6 I've always found this move annoying to meet, yet I have never been a fan of it myself. 8.Bg5!? (If this move turns out to be good then 7...Na6 will be ready for the scrap heap.) 8...h6 9.Bh4 g5 10.Bg3 Nxe4 11.Nxe4 f5 12.Nc3 f4 (I mentioned before that the untried 12...e4!? could be considered.) 13.Nd2 Nc5 14.Nde4 fxg3 15.hxg3 Nxe4 16.Nxe4 Bf5 17.Bd3 g4:

Both sides' play has been logical and thematic. There followed 18.Qd2!? Qe8 19.0-0–0!? This may look slightly risky but castling kingside is not entirely safe, and by going long White can play on the kingside himself. Just the day before Jones faced castling the other way with 19.0-0. See Howell - Jones for both games.

Mar del Plata, Eljanov's 9.Qc2 [E97]

In Eljanov's 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Qc2!? I have mentioned that 9...Ne8 may be the best idea:

After 10.Rd1 Kh8 Black won a complicated game in Babula - Van Kampen. So the ball is back in White's court.

9.Ne1 Main line, 11.g4 [E99]

The old Pinter line 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.f3 f5 11.g4 is not seen so much these days. There is nothing objectively wrong with it, but it can be hard for White to maintain control. After 11...Nf6 12.Nd3 c6 13.Be3 Kh8 14.a4 White is clearly concerned about Black blowing it all up with ...b5, but now 14...b6!?N worked out well for Black in Ftacnik - Bacrot.

Until next month, David

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Don't hesitate to share your thoughts and suggestions with me. Any queries or comments to the KID Forum, or to me directly at (subscribers only) would be most welcome.