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The majority of the games this time around are from the Amber Rapid/Blindfold tournament, which this had moved from Monaco to Nice in France. In addition to these new games, Tony Kosten wanted to present a couple of interesting games.
We will soon return with new games from the European Individual Championship in Plovdiv, the first FIDE Grand Prix in Baku as well as the Russian Team Championship - there is plenty of new material to look at.

Download PGN of April '08 Flank Openings games

Réti Opening

In our December 2007 update, we saw Korotylev take on Kramnik in a Réti with 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 d4 3 b4 f6!? 4 e3 dxe3 5 fxe3 e5 6 c5!, and White was already better. Since then Kramnik must have studied the line a little, because in Van Wely-Kramnik, he opted for the immediate 4...e5, to which Van Wely played the sharpest 5 c5!?, and now rather than 5...d3 which has been recommended by Tony K on this website and by Richard Palliser in his Beating Unusual Chess Openings, Kramnik went for Kortchnoi's recommendation of 5...a5!?:

Here White has normally given preference to 6 Bb5+, but instead Van Wely went for 6 Nxe5!?.


Last year Ivanchuk played an impressive game as Black against Kramnik in Monaco. In the game Tratar - Kosten, our webmaster angled for using the same line 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3 6 Qxc3 d6 7 b4 e5 8 Bb2 a5:

but now instead of Kramnik's 9 g3, the Slovenian Grandmaster opted for 9 e3, which previously promised White a small plus. However, Black tried the new 9...Nc6!?. In addition to this game continuation, I urge you to consider the alternative for Black on move 10, which offers a different type of game.

King's English

In his popular book, Dynamic English, Tony K endorsed 2 g3 in reply to 1...e5. In our first game in this section, Carlsen - Anand, Black chose the sharp 2...c6, and after 3 d4 e4 4 d5!? the players had departed from the usual paths of this relatively rare variation:

In the game, I think Black had a few options to gain a decent position. However, White should probably give 8 Nh3!? some thought.

By Tony Kosten

Thanks to Carsten for letting me put a couple of important games in this update.

Firstly, after 1 c4 e5 2 g3 Nc6 3 Bg2 f5 4 Nc3 Nf6, I recommended 5 d3 in my book, but while preparing for one of my recent opponents I realised that the move I really want to play, the logical 5 e3, might be stronger after all. The critical position comes after 5...d5 6 cxd5 Nb4 7 d3 Nbxd5 8 Nxd5 Nxd5 9 Nf3:

The position resembles a reversed Open Sicilian, but Black has wasted time with his knights and I think that White might be able to count on a small plus, look at Grischuk - Cobbers, which is only a game from a simul, but pretty instructive nonetheless.

Second, I thought I should annotate the game Kovacevic - Zelcic where Black plays a big improvement over the Smirin-Johannessen game I analysed some years ago, which suggests that 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 d4 is well answered by 4...e4 after all.

Back to Carsten

The Reversed Dragon variation saw several encounters in Nice: 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e5 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 g3 d5 5 cxd5 Nxd5 6 Bg2 Nb6 7 0-0 Be7 8 a3 0-0 9 b4 Be6 10 Rb1 f6 11 d3 Nd4:

As our main game, I have chosen Leko - Kramnik. Leko went for 12 Nd2 c6 13 Nde4, and now Kramnik played 13...Bf7!?, which may well be Black's best move in this variation. In the notes you will also find 13...Rf7, which was tested in Aronian-Karjakin, and which looked better for White most of the way. Finally in Van Wely-Karjakin, White deviated earlier with 12 Nxd4, though this line appears very comfortable for Black.

Symmetrical English: Hedgehog

In Kramnik - Ivanchuk, the line 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 Nc3 Nc6 4 g3 g6 5 d4 cxd4 6 Nxd4 d6 7 Bg2 Bd7 was tested:

After 8 Nxc6 Bxc6 9 e4 Bg7 10 Be3 0-0 11 0-0, Black opted for the rare 11...Qa5, which gave White an edge after 12 a3 Rfc8 13 b4 Qd8 14 Rc1 Bd7 15 Qe2 (also 15 e5!? can be considered). Kramnik, however, got overly ambitious and handed Black an overwhelming initiative, which should have led to a win for Black.

We haven't looked at the 1 c4 c5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 g3 g6 4 Bg2 Bg7 5 Nf3 e6!? variation for some time. On earlier occasions we have seen 6 d4, 6 0-0 Nge7 7 d4 and 6 h4 discussed in this column, but in Van Wely-Gelfand, White opted for the reasonably popular 6 a3!?, instead, which is a favorite of Grandmaster Loginov. Gelfand repeated Leko's 6...Nge7 7 b4 b6!? 8 Rb1 0-0, and now Van Wely chose 9 0-0 d5 10 bxc5 bxc5:

and here Van Wely played the first new move of the game with 11 Qa4, though it is likely not any better than the 11 Na4!? which was tested in an obscure German game. Our main game turned out to be quite a slugfest with numerous errors and blunders on both sides, before Van Wely successfully defended King + Rook vs King + Rook + Bishop in convincing fashion.

Bye, Carsten


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