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Since our last update we have seen the conclusion of the the Amber tournament, the Poikovsky tournament and the beginning and end of the European Championship in Dresden along with several other high level tournaments, national individual and team championships. In other words we have more than enough games coming our way, and without too much effort I could pick fifty games for this month's update but I have cut the number down considerably to a more manageable 9. So without any further ado, let's get down to business.

Download PGN of April '07 Flank Openings games

Réti Opening

This month's sample in the Réti Opening includes an interesting blindfold game from the Amber tournament in Monaco, where the runner-up in the Blindfold section beat the world # 1. In the game Morozevich - Anand, the most surprising fact isn't that Morozevich won the game, because he won many of his blindfold games in this tournament, but that Anand, an opening theoretical maven, chose a line that is supposed to be better for White:

Anand doesn't have any surprises up his sleeve, and soon he was just clearly worse.

English: Nimzo-System

In another game from the Amber tournament, Kramnik - Ivanchuk, Black chooses the old but solid 6...d6 line, rather than the much more popular 6...b6. Soon Ivanchuk dishes up with the surprising 11...b5!?:

which allows Black to play for a win. The way Kramnik is outplayed from that point onwards is rather amazing to watch as he literally never gets a chance to settle down and defend his inferior position.

King's English with ...e5

In the Reversed Dragon, the game Malakhov - Nepomniachtchi saw White try a relatively rare line with 9 a4:

and followed up with an even rarer 11th move. Black countered with a rather obvious novelty and after a few inaccuracies from White, Black had the better chances. Nonetheless, although White's alternatives around move 11 haven't been carefully examined for years, I think a couple of the ideas deserve further tests.

In another game from the European Championship Malakhov tested another curious sideline in the game Malakhov - Roiz. Rather than letting Black play ...e4 first before moving the knight, White went straight for 7.Ne1:

this is considered harmless by all sources, mostly based on Kortchnoi's evaluation of 7...Bxc3 8 dxc3 h6! as equal, which Black didn't play in this game. In the game continuation, I prefer White's chances, and Kortchnoi's recommendation can lead to a transposition to the main line after 6...e4 (rather than 6...Re8 7 Ne1 as played in the game) 7 Ne1 Bxc3 8 dxc3 h6 9 Nc2 Re8 10 Ne3 d6, which is considered equal, and this may well be true, but also depends on your taste and preferences, and this is likely what Malakhov was aiming for.

The game Harikrishna - Poldauf from the German Bundesliga is a demonstration of what can happen if Black chooses the ...Nbd7 set-up against the Botvinnik Variation:

Black slowly but surely gets completely crushed in a fashion you never get tired of watching. I have added coverage of the early alternatives for Black as I don't see those lines covered in detail before.

Symmetrical English

There is hardly anything new about the first game in this segment, but I find it instructive, nonetheless, because Black, who is a strong young Grandmaster, looks completely helpless despite White hardly pushing him at all. Black's mistake comes as early as move 7:

and it steadily goes down from there in the game Nepomniachtchi - Baramidze. Despite the queens being exchanged early on and White losing the right to castle, White scores phenomenally well in this line. Against Grünfeld players, this line can be rather effective because it doesn't give Black the dynamic type of positions Black usually strives for in the Grünfeld, but rather a stale and rather boring position for Black where a drawish equality is a successful outcome.

In Gelfand - Svidler White tried a rather unusual looking variation which was previously tested in Kramnik-Naiditsch at the Turin Olympiad:

Svidler chose a line Kramnik calls slightly better for White, but the burden of proof appears to be on White's side since Black managed to equalize without too many problems in our main game.

In another game from Monaco, we will take a look at the Kramnik - Leko game in which the eventual winner of the tournament showed Leko what was in store for him in their upcoming rapidplay match (we will return to the games from that match in the May update). Leko chose the Swedish Variation, which is played a lot these days, but the move order chosen by the two players relatively quickly took the game into virgin territory. In addition to the game continuation, we will examine White's main alternatives after Black's 11th move:

In this game Kramnik chose the very modest-looking 12 Bd2, perhaps knowing that Leko had something prepared against the main moves, 12 Ne4 and in particular 12 Ne3!? which is considered strongest. Despite his careful approach Kramnik soon had the upper hand which he eventually managed to convert into a win.

In the Anti-Indian lines, Jakovenko - Moiseenko sees White use Speelman's 6 a3, and after Black's choice of the rare 6...Nxd4, White uses Kortchnoi's old recipe from his 1991 match against Sax:

where this line was used repeatedly, but has rarely been seen since. The game is rather one-sided, as Black never really gets into the game against the newest Russian member of the 2700+ club. If Black wants to continue to play this line with 6...Nxd4, he may have to look closer at Kortchnoi's analysis of the 8th move alternatives, which have been replicated here.


Please remember to point out and send your games to me. Drop me a line at the Flank Openings Forum, or subscribers can write directly to

Till next month, Carsten