in this case one that is apparently stranded on a5. In fact, the knight has to justify itself there because no acceptable retreat exists, b7 being a truly awful square. Now the lines 12...e6, 12...e5,12...Jth6 (to exert pressure against c4), and 12...bxc4 13 bxc4 lh6 have been played and analysed for years. Janjgava's 2003 book King's Indian & Griinfeld: Fianchetto Lines covers those moves in great depth, and briefly discusses 12...Se8, 12.. JLd7, and 12...J.Í5 as well. But there's no mention at all of the next move:
What's this? Black's game has been based upon queenside action, and now he pushes a flank pawn on the other side of the board? What's more, in contrast to 12...e6 or 12...e5, the move doesn't even establish a presence in the centre. At first this seems incomprehensible, but there is logic to it based upon our eccentric hero on a5. Since White's pieces are concerned with defending the queenside, they are at least partially immobilized by that knight. Black can therefore take the time to attack by, e.g., ...h4 and in many cases ...e5, i5 and ...f5. The f6-knight can also go to g4 with increased effect in certain lines. It's extraordinary that after so many games from the position after 12 Ab2 (over 1600 in my largest database), chess-players can find an entirely new and perfectly legitimate middlegame strategy. Perhaps less surprising is the fact that 12...h5 is a flank pawn attack, one of the characteristic marks of contemporary chess.
In response to Black's advance on the other wing, White logically takes the opportunity to neutralize Black's standard exchange sacrifice
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