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Fianchetto Variation - Panno System [E62]
The move order with 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.0-0 0-0 6.c4 Nc6 7.Nc3 Rb8!? is a useful weapon to have in one's armoury:
Usually it will just transpose to 7...a6, but there are some positions where the rook move could be more useful. In Breier - Rapport White plays 8.e4 (?!) This line is not very promising against 7...a6, but here it is even worse, as ...Rb8 is certainly more useful than ...a6 compared to the main lines. This is very apparent after 8...Bg4 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Bxf3 Nd7 11.Be3 e5 12.d5 Nd4 13.Bg2 c5. The point is that after 14.dxc6 bxc6 in the analogous position, Black would have played ...a6. Here we can certainly see that having the rook on the half-open file is more useful than …a6! In the game White avoids capturing en passant, but then Black certainly has no problems.
Fianchetto Variation Classical System [E69]
The Kavalek System, which often transposes to the ...Qa5 Classical line, is still a decent practical choice. I believe White should keep a small edge, but Black's play is pretty straightforward and White must watch out for some tricks. After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.g3 0-0 5.Bg2 d6 6.Nf3 c6 7.0-0 Qa5 White plays 8.e4 in Abramovic - Damljanovic showing that he is not concerned with ...Bg4. Black opts for 8...e5 which transposes to the Classical variation. White gets a normal small edge, but falls victim to some tactics.
Four Pawns Attack [E76]
I must say that I am always pleased when I see an author continue to play the openings that he has written about. In Flear - Zhigalko our own GM Flear plays 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 c5 6.d5 0-0 7.Nf3 e6 8.dxe6!? fxe6 9.Bd3 Nc6 10.0-0 which he wrote about in the excellent Dangerous Weapons: The King's Indian:
White probably does not get any advantage, but he may well get a position with which he is more familiar with than his opponent.
Sämisch System - Panno [E83]
After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0-0 6.Nge2 Nc6 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 I recently mentioned the possibility of 8...Na5!?:
If Black can play this way, then the Panno really is a great line! See Cheremnova - Kabanov.
Classical - Gligoric Variation 7...exd4 [E92]
The Gligoric Variation has been a bit quiet lately. In the Volkov - Iskandarov game Black scores a big upset in a line that is considered inadequate, namely 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Nf3 e5 7.Be3 exd4 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 c6 10.Bf2 d5 11.exd5 cxd5 12.0-0 Nc6 13.c5 Nh5:
Although White avoids the critical continuation, Black's opening play is instructive. We also take a look at Sasikiran's 13...Re5!? which Volkov also faced.
Classical - 7...Na6 [E94]
The line 8.Be3 Ng4 9.Bg5 Qe8 10.Re1 was brought to prominence by Kramnik, but it lost some lustre after a game where Radjabov beat Gelfand very quickly with Black:
Still, matters are not so simple for Black. In Arjun - Zhigalko White plays very well and scores a big upset.
9.Ne1 Mainline [E99]
The opening of Granda Zuniga - Milos follows normal paths, but very quickly a familiar, yet original position is reached. After 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.Nd3 f5 11.f3 f4, rather than the topical 12.Bd2 g5 13.Rc1 Ng6 14.c5 Nf6 15.Nb5 Rf7 16.Ba5, White plays 12.b4. The move orders here often blend together, but here we see how vacillation from White can lead to disaster.
The position after 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.Be3 f5 11.f3 f4 12.Bf2 g5 13.Nd3 Nf6 14.c5 Ng6 15.Rc1 Rf7 has arisen many times:
In Del Rio de Angelis - Stets White plays the rare 16.Nb5!? The structure that arises in this game is worthy of study, as Black's counterplay is hardly automatic.
Until next month, David
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