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Fianchetto Variation Classical System 8.e4 [E68]
I have not looked at old classical lines against the Fianchetto lately as Black is currently preferring lines like the Panno and early systems with a quick ...c5. The old lines give up space and Black risks becoming too passive. In what was once considered the main line of the g3 systems:
White usually plays 9.h3, but there are many other reasonable lines and there is a lot for Black to know. In Solak - Mchedlishvili White plays 9.Be3, instead, which is not so common, but it is hardly bad and White quickly gets the upper hand.
Sämisch System - 6...c5 Gambit [E81]
The Sämisch gambit still looks a bit sad to me. If White is well prepared, he can snatch the pawn and play for two results. In the line with 10.Nge2, Black once again goes for the direct 10...Nd7 (10...b6 is the alternative) 11.Be3 Nde5 12.Nf4 Nb4 in Atalik - Berg, when 13.Rc1 is the latest trend:
White improves before Black does and gets a risk-free edge. Black can probably draw with accurate play as he does in this game, but it is not much fun.
Classical - Larsen Variation [E90]
In Mastrovasilis - Edouard I take a look at the rare Larsen Variation, 6.Be3!?:
After 6...e5 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 White plays for an improved Exchange Variation, but Black faces little danger if he knows a little theory. In this game Black shows a great will to win a "dead drawn" ending.
Makagonov Variation [E90]
In Holt - Shabalov I look at the latest games in the Makagonov Variation 5.Nf3 0-0 6.h3:
Black must be very careful when he plays ...Na6 before ...a5 in many positions, and in the main game White quickly defeats his more experienced opponent.
Classical Variation 7...Nc6 Bayonet 9.b4 [E97]
The line 9.b4 a5 10.Ba3 b6 11.bxa5 Nh5 is a specialty of the Israeli GM Ilya Smirin:
In Van Wely - Smirin the Dutch GM goes for 12.Nb5!? (12.Re1 is the main alternative) a move he has employed in the past against Smirin as well as Topalov. White gives up the bishop pair but his position is easy to play and Van Wely plays a novelty on move 20! Black loses, but his position still looks playable.
7...Nc6 - 9 Ne1 - Mar del Plata [E98-99]
After 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.Nd3 f5 11.Bd2 the line with 11...fxe4 remains popular. In Hammer - Berg we finally see White win a game after overly optimistic play from his opponent.
A very unusual and creative idea I came across is 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.f3 f5 11.Bg5!?
This move looks completely pointless, but there is one sneaky little point (and there could be more than one point!) that I came to understand. See Atalik - Rapport for the details.
9.Ne1 Nd7 10.Be3 f5 11.f3 f4 12.Bf2 g5 13.Rc1 is a main line that does not receive a lot of attention nowadays. Later in Ostmoe - Berg we reach the following position, when:
White uncorks... 20.Nc6!?
This has actually been seen before, but this game shows that accepting the sacrifice is dangerous.
In Ragger - Papaioannou we look again at the topical 15.Nb5!? Rf7 16.Ba5 b6 17.cxd6 cxd6 18.Be1:
Black has had success with 18...g4, but Ragger's 19.fxg4!? may cause a reevaluation of Black's play.
Until next month, David
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