4

In the Lichess database, this is the most popular way to play against the Fianchetto Variation of the KID:

[FEN ""]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 O-O 5.Nc3 d6 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.O-O e5

But at master level, 7...a6 (the Panno Variation) is by far the most popular move, and playing in traditional KID fashion with 7...e5 scores horrendously for Black. What's the reason for this?

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  • You may find the answers to this question relevant chess.stackexchange.com/questions/35352/… Jul 26 at 13:09
  • They don't cover 7...e5. I'm mainly interested in why 7...e5 seems to be so popular at the amateur level, yet is rarely played by masters / has a high winrate for White in master-level games.
    – James Ko
    Jul 26 at 16:56
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I think I found the "refutation" to this setup:

[FEN ""]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nc3 d6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. O-O e5 8. d5 Ne7 9. e4 Nd7 10. Ne1 f5 11. Nd3 Nf6 12. Bg5 h6 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. f4

I'm no master, but it seems to me like Black's attack has been completely stopped on the kingside because White has managed to blockade e4/f4, while White still has potential for launching a queenside attack. Nearly all of the master games from this position are either White wins or draws.

On the flipside, I did notice that 8...Nb8 scores much better for Black after 8.d5, but if White plays 9.c5 after that then the winning chances again seem to favor White.

edit: Indeed, the 8...Nb8 line is featured on FM Kamil Plichta's Chessable course: https://www.chessable.com/course/31739/

1
  • For many years the line was considered dubious for Black because of this very variation, but lately 8...Nb8 has been a game changer that revived the whole line and White is really struggling to find any advantage against it.
    – Evargalo
    Aug 5 at 13:00

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