Today I will show you a new GUEST article entitled “How to play against the Fianchetto variation of the King’s Indian Defence?”
It was written by the famous commentator from Bosnia and Herzegovina, IM Jasmin BEJTOVIC.
Jasmin will show you, in many examples and analysis, how to play against this opening and he’ll share his SECRETS with you.
How to play against the Fianchetto variation of the King’s Indian Defence?
There are many ways to play against the King´s Indian Defence and one of the most popular is to fianchetto the king´s bishop on g2. This system was never the main weapon in the hands of players with the White pieces, but it has always had the reputation of a very solid system where White wants to keep Black´s activity under control, before taking active operations.
After Boris Avrukh´s book Grandmaster Preparation 1.d4, part two, the Fianchetto variation suddenly became the main weapon against KID.
Some of the very experienced KID players had gone so far that they played the system with c6 and d5 (transforming to the Fianchetto variation of the Grunfeld Defence) when playing against White´s fianchetto.
As I always played this opening against 1.d4, I (and many other KID players) was under pressure to find a way to fight against the Fianchetto variation that also can pass the test of time, and all of a sudden I met the Fianchetto variation regularly.
In this article, I don’t want to create a complete repertoire against it (as it is simply not possible because of the length of this article) or to advertise the strongest continuation against it. My intention is quite simple and moderate: I want to show the readers one of my games (and some reference games), in which I shall explain some new ideas and theoretical novelties, while also pointing to the possibilities that should be analysed separately.
This game was played at a high level (my opponents were GM Milan Drasko and in the reference games, GMs Vladislav Tkachiev, Juri Drozdovsky, Allan Stig Rasmussen and IM Jonathan Hawkins), and I was (un)lucky that the game was not published in any database.
However, the times when I played 100+ rated games per year is behind me, so I don’t see any point in not sharing these games with a wider audience.
Therefore, let´s look what Black can play against the Fianchetto variation of the King´s Indian Defence. I shall purposely ignore the possibilities of transforming into other openings (Benoni or Grunfeld Defence).
One system for Black is (after more or less obligatory moves 1…Nf6 2…g6 3…Bg7 4…0-0) 5…d6 and 6…Nbd7. Here Black wants to play e7-e5. The details of this variation can be found in the book Grandmaster Repertoire on King’s Indian Defence by GM Kotronias.
The other is the Panno system (this system is recommended in Bologan´s book about the King´s Indian Defence) with 5…d6, 6…Nc6 and later on Black plays either a6-Rb8 or the quick e7-e5.
I played this way in some of my games and even if I had quite good results, this variation was never appealing to me.
The third possibility is to play 5…d6 and 6…c5.This is the variation I want to write about.
There are two possible ways for White to play against it and, as I experienced in my practice, players with White are often not aware of these (even those with the highest titles).
Variation Number 1
1. d4, Nf6 2. c4, g6 3. Nf3, Bg7 4. g3, 0-0 5. Bg2, d6 6. 0-0, c5 7. d5
Variation Number 2
1. d4, Nf6 2. c4, g6 3. Nf3, Bg7 4. g3, 0-0 5. Bg2, d6 6. Nc3, c5 7. d5
Notice that in one variation, White develops his knight on c3 and that in the other variation, he chooses to castle.
Anyway, in both variations there are three possible strategies for White.
My intention is to focus on positions described under Number 2.
Drasko,Milan (2474) – Bejtovic,Jasmin (2413)
[E60] Neum BiH-chT1 (4), 21.06.2011
[E60] Neum BiH-chT1 (4), 21.06.2011
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.0-0 [4.d4 0-0 5.c4 d6 6.Nc3 c5 7.d5
Here is the position with the knight on c3 (instead of a short castle). 7...e5!? This is what Black can do in order to equalise. Notice that the move from the game 7...b5 is not possible. 8.0-0 (8.dxe6 Bxe6 9.Ng5 - this is how White can try to punish Black´s play immediately. In the main game, you can see why this method is not possible if the knight is still on b1. 9...Bxc4 10.Bxb7 Nbd7 11.Bxa8 Qxa8
In this position, Black has full compensation for sacrificed material. My intention is not to analyse this position in depth, so I will just leave one reference game:Grigoriants, S. (2562) - Mamedyarov, S. (2646), Abu Dhabi, op 15th 2005, (6) 0-1) 8...a6.
This move is not mentioned in Boris Avrukh’s book GM Repertoire. My idea is to play b5 in the style of the Volga Gambit: 9.a4 (9.Ne1 b5 10.cxb5 axb5 11.Nxb5 Ba6 12.Nc3 Nbd7 © Drozdovskij, Y. (2608) - Bejtovic, J. (2404), 5th Xtra Con Open 2010, (1) 1-0) 9...a5!
That is the whole idea. Black provoked a4 and now is ready to close the position on the queenside. It is not possible to make any progress there (in Avrukh’s repertoire, White combines his play on the kingside with a b4 break). 10.e4 Na6 11.Ne1 Nb4= Rasmussen, A. (2510) - Bejtovic, J. (2382), Politiken Cup 2010, (9) ½-½].
4…0-0 5.c4 c5 6.d4 d6 7.d5
[7.Nc3 Nc6 8.dxc5 dxc5;
7.dxc5 dxc5 8.Ne5 – White can include an exchange on c5 before Black plays Nc6, so he has the possibility of this knight jump. 8...Nfd7! 9.Nd3!? Hawkins, J. (2499) -Bejtovic, J. (2385), 119th CH-SCO 2012, 2012 (9.4) 1-0(9.Nxd7 Qxd7!=) ].
Now, when the knight is not on c3, Black can play the same as in the Volga Gambit. [7...e5 – this idea is completely wrong now... 8.dxe6 Bxe6 9.Ng5 Bxc4 10.Bxb7 Nbd7 11.Bxa8 Qxa8 12.Na3!±].
8.cxb5 a6 9.bxa6 Bf5!? 10.Nfd2
[10.a3: I played one very interesting game in Cannes recently. My opponent wasGM Vladislav Tkachiev and he felt that he was in some kind of preparation for me, so he has already spent a lot of time here. He came up with 10. a3!?. The game continuation was: 10...Nxa6 11.Nc3 Ne4 12.Nxe4 Bxe4 13.Nd2 Bxg2 14.Kxg2 Nc7 15.Nc4 Ra6 16.e4 Qa8 17.Qd3 f5 18.f3 fxe4 19.fxe4 Rxf1 20.Kxf1
I had a feeling that I had done everything right, so that I could count on equality here. However, his threat is Bg5 and then Kg2 and Rf1, with a healthy extra pawn. That´s why I needed drastic measures: 20...e6 21.dxe6 Nxe6!? (21...d5!? I calculated this to equality, but I chickened out and played a safer move, 22.exd5 Nxd5 23.Qe4 Ne3+! 24.Qxe3 Bd4 25.Qb3 Qh1+ 26.Ke2 Rxe6+ and Black is at least not worse.) 22.Ne3 Ra4 23.Nd5 Rd4 24.Qe2 Rxd5 25.exd5 Qxd5 26.Be3 Nd4 27.Bxd4 Bxd4 28.Qe8+= Tkachiev, V. (2637) - Bejtovic, J. (2407), Cannes winter open, (3) ½-½].
10…Nxa6 11.Nc3 Nb4 12.Nc4 Bc2 13.Qd2 Bb3 14.Na3 Bxd5 15.Nxd5 Nfxd5 16.Nc4
This position is known in theory and the evaluation was slightly better for White. I found a very interesting idea that leads to very promising position for Black [16.Bxd5 Nxd5 17.Qxd5 Rxa3 and Black is better].
[16...e6,this was played by most players.16...Nb6,this version of the exchange sacrifice proved to be insufficient. 17.Nxb6 Qxb6 18.Bxa8 Rxa8 ² Nikolic, P. (2676) - Ramirez Alvarez, A. (2507), Corus-B, Wijk aan Zee 2005, (4) ½-½].
Black has full compensation. I have very extended analysis of this position, but because of limited space I will only say that Black´s ideas are connected with Rb8, Nc6-Nd4 (when pushed by a2-a3 and Rb1), and Rb3….It will reduce White´s possibilities, so Black can put further pressure on White’s position with Qa6 or Nd5.
18.Ne3 Ne6 19.a3 Rb8 20.Rb1 Qe4 21.axb4
Drasko gives back material in order to finish his development.
21…Qxb1 22.Nd5 Bf8
Black is little better, but as it was a team competition and a draw with Black on the first board was enough for my team, I offered a draw – which was accepted by my opponent ½-½.