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If there is any line which deserved to carry the name “Wahls Variation”, it would most likely be this one here. The name would qualify for the traditional reasons: 1. Based on ChessBase’s Online Database I was the first person to ever play this line. 2. I scored well with 4/5. 3. I published my games and analysis (1996 in the magazin SCHACH and now here, in an updated version, in my blog). As you can imagine, I was pleased when I recently read this very terminus in Graham Burgess book “A Cunning Chess Opening Repertoire for White”on page 164. There, he even dubbed the line 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.0-0 d6 6.a4 (his recommendation against the King’s Indian) Nbd7 7.d5!? as “the Reversed Wahls”. 🙂

[Event "Berlin"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1989.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Wittke"]
[Black "Wahls"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "A07"]
[Annotator "Matthias Wahls"]
[PlyCount "74"]
[EventDate "1996.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2002.05.06"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4.
O-O O-O 5. d3 {Diagram [#] Compared to 5.d4 or 5.c4 the King`s Indian Attack
(KIA) which is introduced by the move 5.d3 is rather rarely seen in top-class
chess. White plays a King`s Indian with colors reversed and an extra tempo,
thus dispensing with fighting for an opening advantage. If in the g3-King`s
Indian Black at best is to succeed in equalizing with much effort, the
extra-move in the KIA merely enables White to equalize without greater problems.
Hence, the advantages of the KIA are rather practical in nature. In contrast to
1.e4 or 1.d4 there is no need for an extensive study of theory. Furthermore,
the inveterated King`s Indian-player receives his kind of positions on the
board and might feel like a fish in the water.} d5 6. Nbd2 {There couldn`t
possibly exist a better justification for this article than the fact that in
ca. 80 percent of the games this continuation is employed here.
Intending to pursue his development in good King's Indian manner with 7.e4 and
8.Re1 White uses a doubtful execution, however. In my opinion it is
preferable to proceed with 6.c3 and continue only afterwards with Nbd2 and e4,
thus circumventing Black's space gaining idea.} d4 $1 {Diagram [#]
Amazingly, it wasn`t before 1987 that this strong move was introduced into
tournament practise in two of my games. One of its merits is obvious: it
creates space for the black pieces. The second idea is more subtle. By virtue
of the en passent rule, Black is now prepared to change the pawn structure in
a favourable way. This will be explained in detail below. In the
diagram-position White disposes of three possibilities: A)7.e4, B)7.Nc4 and C)7.
Nb3. Other moves are of no independent significance and after 7.c3? (or 7.c4?)
dxc3 8.bxc3 Nd5 9.Nb1 Nxc3 (9..c5 is good enough) 10.Nxc3 Bxc3 11.Bh6 Bg7 12.Qd2 Nd7
13.Rfc1 c6 Black should have obtained a slight advantage.} 7. e4 {7.e3 dxe3
amounts to the the same. But not 7..c5? 8.Nb3! and White has some advantage.}
dxe3 $1 {This very capture is the strategical centre piece of the whole
variation. At first sight it appears anti-positional: Black abandons his
outpost and enables his opponent to recapture with his pawn into the centre.
However, appearances are deceptive: From now on White`s pawn-structure
posseses a rigid and unwieldy character, whereas Black`s remains flexible and
without weakness. Additionally, Black disposes of vivid piece-play and
numerous lever-possibilities.} 8. fxe3 {Diagram [#]} c5 $1 {It makes more
sence to influence the centre by the c-pawn rather than the e-pawn. Thus the
fianchettoed bishop (possibly together with his colleague on e6) exerts a
tremendous pressure upon White`s queenside. Moreover, the pawn c5 together
with the b-pawn could be used as levers in order to destroy White`s
pawn-structure. Nevertheless, the alternative 8..Nc6 is also not to be sneezed
at. I just want to give one example, in order to show how easy it is for White
to go astray with standard moves:} (8... Nc6 9. e4 $2 (9. Qe2) (9. Nb3) (9. Nc4
) 9... Ng4 $1 {Suddenly, there are strong tactical threats on the black
squares.} 10. Nc4 (10. Qe2 $2 Nd4 11. Nxd4 Bxd4+ 12. Kh1 Ne3 $19 {[%cal Re3f1,
Re3c2]}) (10. Nb3 a5 $1 11. a4 Nd4 $1 (11... e5 $2 {was good for equality in
Mack-Kindermann, Germany 1990, but Black should strive for more.}) 12. Ra3 Be6
$1 {with advantage to Black. I will show this in more detail when dealing with
the line 7.Nb3, since this position can arise by different move orders.}) 10...
Bd4+ 11. Nxd4 Qxd4+ 12. Kh1 b5 (12... Nf2+ 13. Rxf2 Qxf2 14. Be3 Qf6 15. d4 $44
) 13. c3 Qc5 14. e5 bxc4 15. d4 Qb5 16. a4 (16. h3 Ngxe5 17. dxe5 Rb8 $17) (16.
Qf3 Bd7 17. e6 Nce5 18. dxe5 Bxe6) 16... Qa6 17. Qe2 Rb8 18. h3 Nxd4 19. cxd4
c3 20. Re1 cxb2 21. Bxb2 Qxe2 22. Rxe2 Ne3 $15) 9. Qe2 {The alternatives are
dealt with in the next game.} Nc6 {Diagram [#]} 10. Nc4 (10. Nb3 b6 {Many
moves have been played here, but this appears to be the most natural.} 11. e4 (
11. Bd2 Bg4 $1 {An important motive. If White wants to get rid of this
annoying pin, he has to weaken both his g- and his h-pawn!} 12. h3 (12. Bc3 Qd7
) 12... Be6 13. Bc3 Qc7 {Harvesting the fruits of his 11th move by winning a
tempo. Later, another tempo could be won by Qd7 if this would fit into Black's
plans.} 14. Qf2 h6 15. g4 Rad8 16. Rad1 $2 Nb4 $1 {This knight sortie is
typical for this structure. We will meet it later again.} 17. Be5 $2 Qc8 18.
Nc1 (18. a3 Nxd3) (18. Ra1 c4 $17) 18... Bxg4 $1 19. c3 (19. hxg4 Nxg4 20. Qg3
Nxe3 $17) (19. Bxf6 Bxf3 20. Bxg7 Bxg2 21. Bxf8 Bxf1 $19) 19... Nbd5 20. e4
Bxf3 21. Qxf3 Nc7 22. d4 cxd4 23. cxd4 Ne6 $17 {Borges,J (1923)-Pascoal,J
(2125) ICCF email 2011}) 11... a5 $1 {Unrooting the Nb3, which, in conection
with the next move, is another important motive of this line.} 12. a4 Be6 13.
Nbd2 Ng4 $1 (13... Bg4 {Perez Cameselle,F (1847)-Cabanas Bravo,J (2072) Madrid
2014}) 14. Kh1 Qd7 $15 {[%cal Gc6b4,Gc6d4,Gg4e5] Black has a very attractive
position. He could follow up with Nb4, molesting the pawn c2 or jump to d4
with his knight and eventually recapture there with his c-pawn in order to
exert pressure on the c-file, if the circumstances are favorable. White's
position suffers from his disability to cover the squares d4 and b4 with
c2-c3, since then the d-pawn would become extremely vulnerable in that case.})
(10. c3 Bg4 $1 {Again the pinning motive from above.} (10... b6 $5 11. Nc4 (11.
Ne5 $2 Nxe5 12. Bxa8 Ba6) 11... Ba6) 11. Rd1 (11. h3 Bd7 12. d4 Qc7 13. g4 Rad8
14. e4 cxd4 15. cxd4 h5 16. g5 Ne8 17. Nb3 Qg3 18. Qf2 Qxf2+ 19. Rxf2 Nd6 {
Soon it becomes clear, that White's centre pawns are more liability than asset.
} 20. Re2 Nb4 {[%cal Gd7b5,Gb4d3,Gb4c2]} 21. Bf4 Bb5 22. Bxd6 exd6 23. Rd2 Rde8
$17 24. a3 Nc6 25. Re1 Bc4 26. Na1 f5 27. gxf6 Bxf6 28. b3 Bf7 29. Rd3 Kg7 30.
Nc2 g5 $17 {Black's pishop pair makes all the difference here.}) 11... Qd7 $15
12. Nf1 Rad8 13. e4 Ne5 14. Ne3 (14. Nxe5 $2 Bxe2 15. Nxd7 Rxd7 16. Re1 Bxd3
$19 {0-1 (42) Titu Maiorescu,D (2220)-Burnoiu,N (2402) Olanesti 2013}) 14...
Bxf3 15. Bxf3 Qd6 $1 {Now, Black threatens to capture on d3 as shown below.
Furthermore the queen might now find a fantastic square on a6, from which she
can effectively attack White's d-pawn.} (15... Nxd3 $2 16. Qf1 (16. e5 $13)
16... b5 17. b3 c4 18. bxc4 bxc4 19. Nxc4 Qc7 20. Rxd3 Qxc4 21. Rxd8 Qxf1+ 22.
Kxf1 Rxd8 23. Be3 $13) 16. Kg2 (16. Bg2 $2 Nxd3 17. Qf1 (17. Bf1 Nxc1) 17... c4
18. Nxc4 $2 Qc5+ 19. Ne3 Nxc1 $19) 16... Nxf3 (16... Qa6 $2 17. d4) 17. Qxf3
Qa6 $1 {[%cal Ra6d3,Ra6a2]} 18. Nc2 Rd7 $15) 10... Be6 $15 {Diagram [#] Black
has no structural weakness, active bishops and the prospective to advance his
queenside pawns. White on the other hand has no active plans and a rather
rigid pawn structure which might be attacked by Black's pieces and pawns
likewise.} 11. Nfe5 Nxe5 12. Nxe5 Qc7 13. Nc4 (13. Nf3 Ng4 $1 14. e4 (14. a4
Rad8 $15) (14. Ng5 Bd7 15. h3 $2 Nf6 16. Qf2 Nh5 17. g4 Ng3 18. Re1 h6 19. Nf3
f5 $17) 14... c4 15. d4 c3 16. b3 Qb6 $15) 13... Rad8 (13... Bxc4 {I could
also have traded my bishop pair against the superior pawn structure:} 14. dxc4
Nd7 15. Bd2 Rad8 16. Rab1 (16. Rad1 Bxb2 17. Rb1 Qe5 18. Bxb7 Nb6) 16... Ne5
$15) 14. Bd2 {White intends to move his bishop to c3 while he is preventing 14.
.b5 due to 15.Ba5.} Nd5 {Meeting the threat of 15.Bc3 and aiming for b4.} 15.
e4 $6 {On} (15. c3 $2 {I would have effectively employed one of my too pawn
levers:} b5 16. Na3 b4 $1 $17 {[%cal Rg7a1]}) ({Best would have been} 15. Qe1 {
in order to prevent Nb4.}) 15... Nb4 $1 {Diagram [#] This position is typical
for the whole line: while the black pieces display their maximal strength,
their white colleagues are placed rather inefficiently. The Bg2 gets
obstructed by the king pawn, while the other pieces appear like bystanders,
without any greater impact on Black's position.} 16. Bf4 Qc8 17. a3 {White has to face
the threat of 17..Bxc4 and 18..Bxb2. Since the knight on b4 prevents both 17.
Rab1 and 17.c3, it has to be expelled.} Nc6 18. c3 {The modest 18.Rab1 might
have been better, since now, the pawn on d3 turns into a weakness.} h6 $2 {
Better was} (18... Qd7 19. Rad1 b5 20. Ne3 Bb3 21. Nc2 (21. Rd2 $4 e5 22. Bg5
f6 23. Bh4 g5 $19) 21... Ne5 22. Bxe5 Bxe5 $17) 19. h4 $2 (19. a4) 19... Bg4
20. Bf3 Bh3 21. Rfd1 (21. Bg2 b5 22. Nd2 Ne5 $15 (22... Bxg2 $2 23. Kxg2 Qd7 $2
24. Nb3)) 21... b5 22. Nd2 (22. Ne3 $4 e5 $19) 22... Ne5 23. Bxe5 Bxe5 $17 {
Diagram [#] My bishop pair ensures me a dominant position.} 24. Kh2 Be6 25. Nf1
$6 (25. Qe3) 25... Bb3 26. Rd2 Qc7 27. Qe3 Bg7 28. h5 $2 {After} (28. d4 {
Black's best option is to temporarily sacrifice a pawn, thus getting control
over the d-file:} h5 $1 29. dxc5 Kh7 30. Qf2 Bh6 31. Rxd8 Rxd8 32. Re1 e5 {
Preventing 33.e5 and enabling Bf8.} 33. c6 Rd6 34. Bg2 Rxc6 35. Ne3 Qb6 36. Qe2
Rd6 37. Nd5 Qc5 $17 {One plan would be to play f7-f5, capture on d5 and
follow up with e5-e4.}) 28... Kh7 29. Re1 $6 ({Again, the central thrust} 29.
d4 {would have been more testing, but wouldn't have helped much against
correct play:} Bf6 30. dxc5 Bg5 31. Rxd8 Bxe3 32. Rxf8 Bxc5 33. hxg6+ fxg6 34.
Be2 Kg7 35. Rf3 Qe5 36. Nd2 Be6 {Black is winning due to his more active
pieces and White's vulnerable king's position. e.g.} 37. Rd3 h5 38. Rf1 h4 39.
Kg2 Qg5 40. Rd1 Bd6 41. Nf1 Bc4 $19) 29... Bf6 30. Qf2 Qe5 31. Ne3 (31. hxg6+
fxg6 32. Ne3 Bg5 $19 {and White is completely paralyzed.}) 31... gxh5 32. Nf5
$6 {White plans 33.d4, but after my next move this is rendered pointless.} (32.
Kg2 Bg5 $19) 32... h4 $19 {Diagram [#]} 33. Rg1 (33. d4 hxg3+ 34. Qxg3 Qxg3+
35. Nxg3 Bg5 $19) 33... e6 34. d4 hxg3+ 35. Rxg3 $2 Qf4 36. Bd1 (36. Ne3 Bh4)
36... Qxf2+ 37. Rxf2 Bxd1 0-1 *



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