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Panno Variation [E63]
In Iturrizaga - Mamedov we take a look at the latest games in the Panno. After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.Nc3 d6 5.g3 0-0 6.Bg2 Nc6 7.0-0 a6 Avrukh's recommendation 8.Qd3 remains popular. Here 8...Bf5 is playable but risky (8...e5 and 8...Bd7 are also considered in the notes) as after 9.e4 Bg4:
Compared to the lines with 8.e4 Bg4, White has the move Qd3 for free. This allows him to play for a slight edge. Following 10.Be3 Bxf3 (after 10...Nd7 Avrukh's 11.Ne1 is enough for an edge) 11.Bxf3 Nd7 Iturrizaga plays 12.Bg4!? which looks rather harmless, but matters are not so simple for Black.
Seirawan Variation 5.Bd3 [E70]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Bd3 0-0 6.Nge2 Nc6 7.0-0 e5 (Black often prefers 7...Nh5 or 7...Nd7, but I think this classical response is fine, perhaps even best) 8.d5 Nd4 9.Nxd4 exd4 10.Nb5 (In recent years White has preferred 10.Ne2) 10...Re8 11.Re1 Ng4 was played in Aronian - Nakamura:
This is (or was) the main line, but I do not really trust it. This was only a rapid game, but these guys are heavy hitters so the game is worth a look. White did not play what I consider to be the critical line and Black was doing quite well out of the opening. Aronian managed to draw with one of his typical Houdini acts.
Remember to checkout the new playable eBook for more coverage of this line.
Makagonov Variation [E90]
The Makagonov Variation remains popular. In most cases, an understanding of the middlegame is more important than exact variations, but there are a couple of critical lines. One is 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.h3 e5 7.d5 Nh5 8.Nh2 Qe8 9.Be2 Nf4 10.Bf3 f5 11.g3 Nxh3 12.Bg2. Here Black has three main options, and 12...Qf7 has been the most popular of late (the other lines are 12...f4 and 12...fxe4). After 13.Qf3! fxe4 14.Qxf7+ Rxf7 the move 15.Be3!? was tried in Jakovenko - Mamedov:
White avoids some long theoretical discussions, but Black was able to solve his problems in a creative way with 15...Nf4!?
Another critical line that can arise from a Benoni move order is 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 c5 4.d5 d6 5.Nc3 g6 6.h3 Bg7 7.e4 0-0 (this can also come from 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.h3 etc.) 8.Bd3 exd5 9.exd5 Re8+ 10.Be3 Bh6 11.0-0 Bxe3 12.fxe3 This is a controversial line, and Black will be doing well if he can consolidate his position:
Even Kramnik was unable to break down Black's defences in this variation.
12...Qe7 13.e4 Nbd7 14.Qd2 Rf8!? was played in Ding - Vocaturo. Black is playing solidly by protecting himself on the f-file, yet he still has to be very alert to White's attacking ideas, as this game shows.
Averbakh/Classical Variation [E92]
The most popular line against the Averbakh (which is pretty uncommon these days) is 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 Na6. In Maksimenko - Stellwagen White played 7.Nf3!? and managed to trick his opponent into a Classical Exchange Variation following 7...e5?! (Black should throw in 7...h6 when 8.Bh4 e5 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Qxd8 Rxd8 11.Nd5 can be met with 11...g5) 8.dxe5! dxe5 9.Qxd8 Rxd8:
Now the position is an Exchange Variation where Black has in effect played 9...Na6 rather than 9...Re8, 9...Nbd7, 9...c6!? or even 9...Rf8!? The subsequent 10.Nd5 Rd6 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Nxf6+ Rxf6 13.Nxe5 Re6 14.f4 gives White good chances for an edge, because after 14...f6 15.Ng4! the e-pawn is immune and White can play Nf2 next. This game serves as a word of warning and also looks at some possibilities for both sides in this shaky line.
Gligoric Variation [E92]
The Gligoric is not as hot as it was a year or so ago. Black has several options, and while none of them are easy, White has to be prepared for everything. After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Cheparinov - Fedoseev sees Black employ the old 7...exd4. I think we may see more of this move. Black opts for open play rather than the manoeuvring battles that arise after the main line 7...Ng4 and the fashionable 7...c6. 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 c6 10.Bf2 d5 11.exd5 cxd5 12.0-0 Nc6 13.c5 Nh5 14.Qd2 Be5 15.g3 Ng7 16.Rfd1! Be6 followed:
17.Bb5!? The main move is 17.Nxe6 which has scored well for White, but Cheparinov, usually plays what is critical. See the notes for some possible improvements for Black. In the game Black looked fine in the opening as well.
Alexey Fedorov's 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Nf3 e5 7.Be3 Ng4 8.Bg5 f6 9.Bh4 Nc6 10.d5 Ne7 11.Nd2 h5 is a risky line that continues to be fashionable. Black may not be able to equalize but his practical results are quite good. In So - Shomoev Black plays 12.h3 Nh6 13.g4 hxg4 14.hxg4 Nf7 15.Qc2 c5 16.0-0-0 Bd7 17.Rh2 Nc8 and goes on to win, but I think this is a mistake. The game and the notes show some ideas for White that Black should definitely be aware of.
Classical Variation 7...Na6 [E94]
It has been a little while since we looked at the sharp 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Na6 8.0-0 Ng4 9.Bg5 Qe8 10.c5:
In Xiu - Ju Wenjun Black played McShane's 10...exd4 11.Nd5 Be6!? but White did not react well.
9 Ne1 Main line - Mar Del Plata [E99]
The system with 11.g4 leads to very complicated strategic and tactical play, and Le Quang Liem - Cheparinov is no exception. 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.f3 f5 11.g4 Nf6 (more popular is the flexible 11...Kh8 but the text is seen frequently too) 12.Nd3 c6 13.Be3 Kh8 14.Kh1 and now 14...b5!? was played:
The game is tremendously complicated.
Until next month, David
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