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1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Be3 c5

I recently started playing the KID and am not comfortable with the c5 gambit against the Sämisch variation, I find that I am unable to generate the counter play I desire for the c5 pawn and want an alternative to the gambit, I would prefer an alternative which leads to double edged and dynamic play.

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  • Nc6 or the C6 A6 lines?
    – cmgchess
    Feb 12 at 2:57

2 Answers 2

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There you have a good choice between Panno and Byrne variations. Both are based on generating queenside counterplay.

Panno

Panno begins with 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Be3 a6 7. Qd2 Nc6. Your idea is to play Rb8 and b5. This approach used to be almost mainline, so theory is quite well developed there.

Play is sharp, but based more on knowing attacking ideas than memorising moves.

Byrne

Bryne is quite similiar: 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 a6 6. Be3 c6. Your idea is again to play b5.

If white prevents b5 via playing 7. a4, you answer with 7. ... a5. Even though you wasted a tempo by playing a6-a5 you have a very nice outpost on b4, which fully compensates for lack of development. So your next moves are going to be Na6-Nb4. Your middlegame plan in this case is to prepare e5, thus distracting d4 pawn and gaining control of c5 square for your other knight (which you can redeploy from f6 via Nd7-Nc5).

So in mainline white doesn't prevent b5 and instead prepares kingside action. If white dares to castle queenside you get very intuitive play against his king (similiar to sicilian). Otherwise a common idea is to play bxc4 and then prepare d5 pawn break.

Note that it's a good idea to delay playing O-O, to not give white an easy target for kingside attack. Sooner or later you will have to play it though, but hopefuly after attaining sufficient counterplay.

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  • I understand that the panno is the considered the old main line of the samisch and is a somewhat sharper system than Byrne's system? Feb 12 at 12:57
  • Both are sharp, just Panno has larger body of theory due to being more popular in the past. Try both and you will see which you find more to your liking. Most common approach in the Samisch before c5 was e5, but it doesn't really have good reputation, while Panno was always the largest sideline. Feb 12 at 13:32
  • Ahh, OK thank you for your help. Feb 12 at 13:39
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The Saemisch used to be the main antidote to the KID, it was doing so well for White that it almost put the KID out of business. Have a look at the few games where it was played in the world championship between Karpov and Kasparov in the 90's, game 23 shows a brutal takedown of Kasparov in the old main line.

Once you've faced the Saemisch enough, you learn that White has a very easy game in most lines and is in control for a long time. When the c5 gambit was discovered, it instantly killed the whole line for White because it allowed Black to get an active game very easily.

I can understand that you might have apprehensions about a missing pawn, but believe the grandmasters that used this line to great effect and give it a chance. Look at a few lines and get a feel for the ensuing positions, Black does get tremendous activity and there is a reason why the Saemisch has all but disappeared from top level chess.

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  • I did try the samisch gambit but especially with the queen's off the board, I don't think I have the gall to sacrifice a pawn :) Feb 17 at 4:12

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