Bayonet Attack (express-preparation)

…Tomorrow you face a crucial game in an open or club tournament. You want to surprise your opponent with a new idea and an unexpected variation, but in order to do that you need to check the quality of the novelty, and also get to the bottom of the opening nuances in time. Your available free time, however, is “well, at most a couple of hours”...

In that case, you clearly need express-preparation.

Read on

                                                                                                                                                                         Alexey Kuzmin

Grandmaster, FIDE Senior Trainer

“How, in practice, can you make use of a novelty by Karjakin or Kramnik that you noticed, let’s say, on the twenty first move? And how should you apply a new idea, even on the tenth move, if you don’t play the given opening?”

“In the first case – most likely not at all! If your opponent is capable of confidently reproducing the first twenty moves it’s hardly likely you’ll surprise him on the next, while if he’s unaware of the introductory moves you’re definitely not going to get to play the novelty!

As for the second case, with an overview of the opening, decisiveness and a healthy spirit of adventure express-preparation will help you to introduce a new idea at the level of “ready to be played” and to include the new variation in your opening repertoire.”

Express-preparation means:

а) a brief analysis of the new idea itself;

b) mini-preparation for possible deviations in the build-up to it.

If the prepared variation should work at an early stage then the second point can sometimes be left out…

Bayonet Attack

After a technical, almost “home” win against Grischuk at the Tal Memorial in June this year, Kramnik’s plan of 12.Bf3 has become highly fashionable.

At first glance it’s not so dangerous: Houdini’s evaluations are perfectly acceptable for Black, and there are almost no sharp forced variations. However, in the majority of ensuing positions White manages to deprive his opponent of the typical King’s Indian tactical counterplay and to keep him under a some positional pressure.

Even if you’ve never before played the Bayonet Attack – 9.b2-b4 against the King’s Indian Defence, introducing a fashionable line into your repertoire is easier than you might think. Besides the main variation Black has a couple of logical alternatives, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s first of all discuss...

Kramnik's Plan

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0–0 6.Be2 e5 7.0–0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.b4 Nh5 10.g3 f5 11.Ng5 Nf6 12.Bf3!?

A recap: for a long time, again largely due to Kramnik, White’s main weapon in the Bayonet Attack was the variation 10.Re1 f5 11.Ng5 Nf6 12.Bf3, but then Black managed to find reliable defensive paths. Now Vladimir has returned to the old move 10.g3, but in combination not with the usual 12.f3, but with a rare continuation in this situation: 12.Bf3.

Black has tried a whole array of options.

A) 12...c6 A principled but risky continuation.

13.Bg2 h6 14.Ne6 Bxe6 15.dxe6

Kramnik,V -Grischuk,A /Moscow RUS 2012

15...Nxe4 16.Nxe4 fxe4 17.b5 Rf6 18.Bxe4 Rxe6 19.Qa4 d5 20.Rd1 and White’s initiative clearly outweighs the sacrificed pawn.

Sher,M -Colmenares,A /Flims SUI 2012

15...fxe4 16.b5 d5 17.Ba3 Re8 18.cxd5 Nexd5 19.Nxe4 Nxe4 20.Bxe4 Rxe6 21.Qb3 and White has a clear edge.


B) 12... h6, immediately clarifying your plans, is unlikely to be a successful decision.


Likavsky,T - Zelbel,P /TCh-AUT 2012

13.Ne6 Bxe6 14.dxe6 Qc8 15.Nd5 Nexd5 Diagram

And now instead of what happened in the game 16.cxd5 fxe4 17.Be2 c6, which led to an unclear position, it was stronger to play 16.exd5! e4 17.Be2 Nxd5 18.Qxd5 Bxa1 19.e7+ Rf7 20.c5 and White has a dangerous initiative.



C) 12... Kh8 This waiting move isn’t particularly good either.

In the game Atalik,S - Martic,I /Paracin SRB, 2012 White continued 13.b5 fxe4 14.Ncxe4 Nf5 15.Bg2 Nd4 16.Be3 Bg4 and here, by choosing 17.Qd2! he was still able to fight for an initiative. However, it seems to me that it was stronger to play the restrained 13.Bg2.

D) 12...Rb8 It’s useful to pre-emptively defend the b7-pawn, but this somewhat slow move gives White a wide choice.


Wang Hao - Ding,L /Taizhou CHN 2012

13.b5 Also worth considering are both 13.Bb2 and 12.Bg2.

13...h6 14.Ne6 Bxe6 15.dxe6 Qc8 Diagram 

16.Ba3 Worth checking is 16.Nd5!?

16...Rd8 17.Nd5 Qxe6 18.exf5 gxf5 19.Nxc7 Qxc4 20.Rc1 Qf7 21.Qa4 and White has the initiative.


E) 12...fxe4 The most accurate continuation. By the way, this is precisely the way Houdini recommends playing.

13.Ncxe4 Nf5 14.Bg2


The ensuing pawn structure is typical of the King’s Indian Defence. A feature of the position is that White’s bishop is quite comfortably placed on g2.


Girya,O - Ju Wenjun /St Petersburg RUS 2012

14...Nd4 15.Bb2 Nxe4 16.Nxe4 g5 17.Qd2 h6 18.f4! Diagram

A concrete decision. White seized the initiative.

18...gxf4 19.gxf4 Bg4 and now instead of exchanging on e5 it was more accurate to first improve the position: 20.Rf2 Qe8 21.Raf1 upping the pressure.




Zhao,X - Ju Wenjun/Jermuk ARM 2012

14...Nxe4 15.Nxe4 a5!? Diagram

16.b5 b6 17.a4

Not an obligatory move.

White could have immediately started to regroup her pieces.



17... h6 18.Bb2 g5 19.Qd3

It was worth considering switching the bishop to h5 - 19.Bf3 Qe7 20.Bh5.

19...Qe8 20.Rae1 Qg6 21.Bc3 Bd7 22.Nd2 h5

23.Be4 Rf6 24.Qb1 Raf8?! Diagram

25.c5! White has seized the initiative.



We’ve discussed Black’s options after 12.Bf3. Now let’s return to the starting position of the Bayonet Attack.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0–0 6.Nf3 e5 7.0–0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.b4

Apart from the main 9…Nh5 Black quite often adopts two other knight retreats, and also undermines the pawn chain with – 9...а5.


Plan one – retreating the knight.

Our preparation against 9...Ne8 and 9...Nd7 can be combined by choosing a fairly rare plan with Ba3.

9...Ne8 10.c5 f5 11.Ba3!? Nf6

This position also arises after 9...Nd7 10.Ba3 f5 11.c5 Nf6.


Bacrot,E - Fontaine,R

Grand Prix Le Port-Marly FRA, 2012


Also perfectly possible is the more restrained 12.Nd2, but the “jump” to g5 has more chance of coming as a surprise to your opponent.

12... h6

In case of the exchanges 12...fxe4 13.Ncxe4 Nxe4 14.Nxe4 you get a type of position that’s similar to the variation 9…Nh5 and 12…fxe4. And in case of 14...Nf5 15.b5, and after 14...Bf5 15.f3 I’d prefer White.


13.Ne6 Bxe6 14.dxe6 fxe4 15.cxd6 cxd6 16.b5 Nf5?! 17.Nd5! Nxd5 18.Qxd5 Diagram

White dominates in the centre – he has the edge.




Plan two – undermining the queenside.

9… a5 10.Ba3!

Again Black has two options.

Option A 10...Nd7

Exchanging first leads to the same position: 10...axb4 11.Bxb4 Nd7 12.a4.

11.bxa5 Rxa5 12.Bb4 Ra8 13.a4 Bh6 14.a5 f5 15.Bd3 Kh8


An important point. White shouldn’t rush with the typical transfer Nf3-d2-b3, as Black can’t hold the knight on d7 forever to prevent the c4-c5 break.

16... Nf6 17.c5 fxe4 18.cxd6 cxd6 19.Nxe4 Nxe4 20.Bxe4 Bf5

The favourable pawn structure ensures White a small edge. The fact that Black controls the c1-square isn’t a serious inconvenience as White intends to develop pressure on the b-file.

Kramnik,V - Carlsen,M / Amber-rapid Nice 2010

21.Rb1 Qd7 22.h3 Rac8 23.Qb3 and the pressure on the half-open file became very unpleasant.

Zakhartsov,V - Ulko,J /Voronezh RUS 2012

21.Qd3 Qd7 22.Rab1 Rf7 23.Bc3 White’s pieces are more harmoniously placed.

Option B

10...b6 11.bxa5 Nh5 12.Re1 f5 13.Bb4

Again, I don’t think you should rush to switch the knight from f3 to b3.

13... bxa5 14.Ba3 Nf4 15.c5!

White has carried out the planned break. The initiative is clearly on his side.

Bacrot,E - Djukic,N /Dresden 2008

15...fxe4 16.Nxe4 Nxe2+ 17.Qxe2 Nf5 18.Qc2 h6 19.Rac1 and White’s ahead of his opponent.

Eljanov,P -Smirin,I /Porto Carras 2011

15...Nxe2+ 16.Rxe2 Ba6 17.Rb2 Bh6 18.Rab1 and Black’s problems on the queenside rapidly grow.

…It shouldn’t be thought that we’re fully prepared for the King’s Indian Defence, but count for yourself: roughly 75% of King’s Indian players choose Nc6 on the seventh move, and on encountering the Bayonet Attack, nine out of ten of them choose one of the lines we’ve looked at. So for what percentage are we equipped!?

Of course you can't call our analysis deep and all-encompassing, but after all... it's express-preparation!



very good!!!

very good!!!

express prep

I like it but let me download it also! Keep up the good work, gentlemen.

very good !

very good !