Bet You've Never Heard Of This Opening
You might not know this opening, but you should.

Bet You've Never Heard Of This Opening

| 55 | Opening Theory

On March 24, 1937, the leading Soviet chess magazine 64 published a theoretical article about a new opening system the magazine called the "Panov Defense." 

I challenge you to identify the moves of this opening line. Yes, you can Google it if you wish! Just don't confuse the "Panov Defense" with the "Panov Attack" in the Caro-Kann defense.

Give up already? OK, here is the game that started the new system:

I almost can hear your protests that the opening of this game is called The Old Benoni or Czech Benoni. The title of the above-mentioned article given by Panov himself was "My System In The Benoni Defense," but the magazine changed it into "The Panov Defense."

Here is what 64 wrote in the editorial preface: 

Panov has been playing this opening in very important competitions for several years. He has developed numerous original ideas there. [...] It gives us the basis to call this opening "The Panov Defense."

So, what's the point of the Panov Defense?

To some extent, it is similar to the opening that we discussed last week. First, Black creates a pawn wall in the center.

You've probably heard the famous chess rule: when you get attacked on a side of the board, strike in the center! Here the center is completely locked, so Black starts preparing his kingside attack since White won't be able to strike in the center! The attacking setup is very simple: Nf6, Be7, 0-0, Ne8, g6, Ng7 and finally an f7-f5 break!

The following game is a good example of this strategy:

Here are two more examples of modern grandmasters playing this old system:

You might be wondering what happens if White tries to avoid a direct kingside attack and castles queenside. The inventor of the system shows the answer. Black prepares the break b7-b5 and attacks white king anyway!

This simple but dangerous system can be a good weapon for players who like to attack even when White opens a game with the move 1.d4, which frequently leads to slow positional maneuvering.

Another attractive feature of this system is the lack of opening theory to memorize. Once you've learned the main idea of the variation, you are ready to use it in your next tournament game!

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