The Averbakh Variation, arising after 6… O-O 7. Bg5, is rarely seen in modern grandmaster practice. Black should generally avoid playing 7… e5, because White wins an exchange after 8. dxe5 dxe5 9. Qxd8 Rxd8 10. Nd5. However, Black has several good options, among them 7… Na6 and 7… c5.
After 7… Na6 8. Qd2 e5 9. d5 players of Black usually seek counterplay on the queenside with 9… c6 10. f3 cxd5 11. cxd5 Bd7. In a setup that resembles the Ben-Oni Defense that occurs after 7… c5 8. d5 h6 9. Be3 e6 the ensuing positions tend to be roughly equal.
Semi-Averbakh System (6… O-O 7. Be3) has its share of followers, among which grandmasters Riazantsev and Sokolov stand out. The two most popular replies are 7… c5, and in this case quite viable 7… e5. Though Black should typically be the more careful side, he has the means to equalize.
[Diagram: Black to Move] S. Mohandesi – A. Kovalev, Eupen 1994. White has overlooked his opponent’s powerful blow, which leads to Black’s considerable advantage. What would you play?
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