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This month there are a lot of important new ideas!

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Fianchetto Variation - Panno 8.Bf4 a6 9.Rc1 [E63]

We start this month by looking at a couple of games in the topical 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 0-0 5.Bg2 d6 6.0-0 Nc6 7.Nc3 Rb8 8.Bf4 a6 9.Rc1 line.

In L'Ami - Jones White plays 9...Bd7 10.Qd2 b5 11.Nd5:

This leads to a position where White is hoping for a risk-free, if miniscule, edge. After 11...bxc4 12.Nxf6+ Bxf6 13.Rxc4 e5 14.Bh6 Re8 15.dxe5 Nxe5 16.Nxe5 Bxe5 17.b3 Bb5 18.Rc2 c5 White has a slightly better structure but with no knights on the board it's hard to create much play.

Another line is 9...h6 when 10.h3!? is the new trend:

White anticipates ...g5-g4. After 10...g5 11.Be3 g4 12.hxg4 Nxg4 13.Qd2 Nxe3 14.Qxe3 e5 15.dxe5 Re8 16.Rfd1 Nxe5 17.Nxe5 Rxe5 White has a better structure while Black has the bishop pair. See Benidze - Fier.

Yugoslav 8...d6 pawn sacrifice [E65]

A King's Indian/English crossover is the pawn sacrifice 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.d4 cxd4 7.Nxd4 0-0 8.0-0 d6!? A critical line is then 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.Bxc6 Rb8 11.Bg2 Qa5 12.Qc2 Bf5! 13.e4 Be6 14.b3 Nxe4! 15.Nxe4 Bxa1 16.Bg5 Bf5! 17.Bxe7 Rfe8 18.Bxd6 Rbd8:

White plays 19.b4!?N in Donchenko - Melkumyan. It should not cause too much trouble but it's something new.

Averbakh Variation 6...Na6 7.Qd2 [E73]

Nowadays, after 6.Bg5 Na6 White mostly goes for 7.f4, there are several games in the archives. Instead, 7.Qd2 e5 8.d5 c6 9.f3 cxd5 10.cxd5 Bd7 11.Bd1 b5 is played in Khismatullin - Smirin:

This is a fairly standard idea and Black has quite a good version as White's kingside development has been clumsy, to say the least.

Sämisch System - Panno 8.Rc1 [E84]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 a6 6.Be3 Nc6 7.Qd2 Rb8 8.Rc1 0-0 9.Nge2 Bd7 10.Nd1 Re8 11.g3 b5 is all seemingly normal but this exact position is rare. In Kaidanov - Nyzhnyk White plays 12.Bg2 bxc4 13.0-0 e5 14.d5 Ne7 15.Rxc4:

White has a better structure, but Black can strike immediately. 15...c6! 16.dxc6 Bxc6 Now ...d5 is coming. Black already has some initiative. Black is doing well before a blunder threw it all away in one move.

Classical - Makagonov 7...Nh5 8.g3 Na6 9.Nh2 [E90]

6.h3 e5 7.d5 Nh5 8.g3 Na6 9.Nh2 A weird move, but it's 'thematic'. In Aronian - Mamedov Black now plays 9...Nc5!? which is an interesting idea. The knight gets kicked around, but White will have to loosen up a bit, 10.b4 Nd7:

Although Black has lost some time with his knight, White has been goofing around with a lot of pawn moves. Now Black is ready to play ...a5.

6...Bg4 7.Be3 Nfd7 [E91]

After 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 Bg4 7.Be3 Nfd7 there is nothing particularly wrong with the move 8.0-0, but the prophylactic 8.Rc1 is the most testing, while 8.Ng1 is quite safe for White. 8...Nc6 9.d5 Bxf3 10.Bxf3 Na5 11.Be2 Bxc3! This is the point of Black's play. 12.bxc3 e5:

This is what Black is generally seeking in this line - an unclear strategic game. See Bozkurt - Brattain.

Gligoric 7...exd4 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 c6 [E92]

7.Be3 exd4 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 c6 10.Bf2 d5 11.exd5 cxd5 12.c5 Nc6 13.0-0 Re5 is Sasikiran's patent:

In Eljanov - Sasikiran White plays 14.Re1 Qf8 15.Nxc6N bxc6 16.b4 Bd7 Black seems fine, so the ball is still in White's court.

Mar del Plata - 9.a4 [E97]

7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.a4 has been more popular the last couple of years. I have always been wary of positions like this, 9...a5 10.Ne1 Nd7 11.Nd3 b6 12.f3 f5 13.Bd2 Nf6 14.Nf2:

Black has to be quite careful here, strategically speaking. In Gajewski - Cuenca Jimenez Black played 14...f4, but I think this plays into White's hands.

Until next month, David

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