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This month we look at some unusual lines that have become favourite toys of some very strong players.

Download PGN of October ’17 KID games

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Early ...Bf5 Variation 1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 g6 4.Nc3 Bf5 [E61]

We start with an elite game from the Isle of Man, Akobian, V - Caruana, F. After 5.d5 Bg7 6.Nd4 Bd7 7.e4 Black played the flexible 7...0-0 8.Be2 e6!?:

Caruana likes to wheel this system out once in a while. White sharpened the play, but then lost the thread when he tried to shift back into solid mode.

Fianchetto Variation, Double Fianchetto [E60]

The double fianchetto setup has become one of Kramnik’s playthings. In Kramnik, V - Kavutskiy, K Black went for 6...c5, which I believe was a recommended Gallagher recipe. After 7.c4 Ne4 8.0-0 Nc6 9.e3:

The main move here is 9...Bg4 although White scores well after both 10.Qc1!? and 10.Qc2. In the game Black went for 9...e5 when Kramnik played the new move 10.Ne1!? I suspect this is not as good as 10.d5, as White has a new try I mention in the notes. The American IM reacted well, but eventually succumbed to the legendary former World Champion.

Irregular 6...c6 [E62]

Vladimir Onischuk is a player who frequently shows up in this column. In Pogosyan, S - Onischuk, V he played the unusual 7.0-0 a6 8.e4 Bg4:

A system which is not totally without merit. It has been played several times by Kozul and Zueger. I cannot even find it in Avrukh's GM Rep 2. Following 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Bxf3 the position is similar to a main line of the Kavalek system, but here Black has played ...a6 instead of ...Qa5.

Panno 8.Qd3 [E63]

Avrukh’s recommended 8.Qd3 has not been seen at a high level so much in the last few years, but it still makes some appearances. In Van de Griendt, J - Mamedov, Black goes for 8...Nd7, which is one of several fighting moves we have seen, although it's a bit risky:

Then 9.Be3 e5 10.Qd2 Re8 11.b3 is a bit soft perhaps, but not bad. Mamedov’s 11...Nf8!? is an idea I had not seen before. I think this whole line should be a bit better for White, but once Black equalized he was able to outplay his opponent.

Pseudo-Gallagher Variation - 6...Nbd7 7.Nc3 e5 8.e4 a6 [E68]

The game Giri, A - Ivanchuk, V seems so easy for Black from start to finish. 8.e4 a6!? is an interesting move order where Black may, or may not, go into a Gallagher variation. Giri played the critical 9.Qc2 but after 9...exd4 10.Nxd4 Re8:

His follow-up 11.Re1 was inconsistent. The critical move, made possible by White's 9th move, is 11.Rd1!

Sämisch System - 6...c5 7.d5 [E81]

The line 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 c5 4.d5 d6 5.Nc3 e6 6.e4 Bg7 7.Nge2 0-0 8.Ng3 often transposes to a Modern Benoni (A65), but in Aronian, L - Vachier Lagrave, M Black keeps delaying ...exd5 in the game. The disadvantage to this is that White may eventually take with the knight. The continuation 8...a6 9.a4 h5 10.Bg5 Qc7 looks odd to me here, but this has been played by good players. After 11.Qd2 exd5 12.cxd5 Nh7 13.Bh6 h4 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 Aronian played the amazing 15.Bc4!? in a must-win game:

Objectively this is risky, but in a fast time control it is certainly dangerous.

Sämisch System - 6...c5 7.Nge2 Nc6 8.d5 Ne5 9.Ng3 h5 [E81]

In the big main line 6.Nge2 c5 7.Be3 Nc6 8.d5 Ne5 9.Ng3 h5 10.Be2 h4 11.Nf1 e6:

12.Bg5! is a critical move we have not considered before. In Naroditsky, D - Kovalev, V we begin to scratch the surface in a line that we will certainly see again.

Classical 7.0-0 Na6 8.Re1 Qe8 [E94]

A modern main line of the ...Na6 system is 10.Re1 exd4 11.Nxd4 Qe5 12.Nf3 Qc5 13.Bh4 Be6 14.Rc1 when Kovalev played 14...Qb6!? A rare move which he had played once before:

Black won, but I suspect White can keep some small edge, see Oganian, M - Kovalev, V.

Until next month, David

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