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In this month's installment I'll concentrate upon well-known variations that have gotten some new and potentially significant input. Hence you'll find more heavy analysis than is probably necessary. Feel free to skip it.

Download PGN of December '04 Flank Openings games


English Opening


1...Nf6 & others

This update will feature three games and many notes on the Mikenas Attack 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4. For English Opening players this is a very important variation. White must play 3.e4 if he is to avoid the Nimzo-Indian (3.d4 Bb4), or the less-than-inspiring 3.Nf3 Bb4, or even having his knight committed to f3 in the Queen's Gambit 3.Nf3 d5 4.d4, which cuts out some important options for him. I'll try to give an overview of the state of theory in what is currently the main line.

First we look at Timman - Kulaots, Prague 2004, in which White tries a new and terribly complex move in the early middlegame: 3...d5 4.e5 d4 5.exf6 dxc3 6.bxc3 Qxf6 7.Nf3 e5 8.d4 exd4 9.Bg5 Qe6+ 10.Be2 Be7 11.cxd4 Bxg5 12.Nxg5:

Here after 12...Qe7 13.Qd2 Nc6, Timman embarked upon 14.0-0!? instead of the usual 14.d5. This allows Black to grab the pawn on d4 with terrific complications.

In the game Valden - Stavrianakis, Athens 2004, Black chose the newer move 12...Qg6, quickly achieving equality. In the notes I discuss various options, of which the ambitious 13.f4 is the most interesting. White has to come up with something in this line but this may fit the bill.

Instead of 10...Be7, the older move order 10...f6 11.Nxd4 Qf7 has a decent reputation:

Instead of the usual 12.Bf4, Ni Hua - Aleksandrov, Calcutta 2004 saw the bombshell 12.Bh6!. Black couldn't respond adequately to the new terrain and White won quickly. Suddenly the onus is on Black to defend his position in this variation.


As in the previous column I'll take a look at a line versus 1.c4 e5 2.g3. This time Black plays 2...c6 3.d4 e4. This move seems fully playable. In Narciso Dublan - San Segundo Carrillo, Sanxenxo 2004, White continued 4.Nc3 d5 arriving at a critical juncture:

Narciso Dublan played 5.Nh3!?, a logical move that has some concrete problems. I take a look at the alternatives 5.cxd5 and 5.Bg2, and 5.Qb3. None of these seem too dangerous so White needs to find a better way to counter the 2...c6, 3...e4 idea.

Another sequence that is causing White difficulties is 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 d6 3.Nf3 f5 4.d4 e4 5.Ng5 Be7 (which can also arise from 1.c4 d6 2.d4 e5 3.Nf3 e4 4.Ng5 f5 5.Nc3 Be7). Given the ease in which Black gets the better game in Gupta - Nanjo, Kochin 2004, White may do better sticking to options like options like 3.g3, 4.g3, or even 5.Bg5!? instead of 5.Ng5.

In the main line 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 Bb4 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0, Black sometimes plays the conservative 6...d6. This is usually met by 7.d3. Periodically White plays 7.Nd5 Bc5, as in Pelletier - Chernin, Sanxenxo 2004:

After 8.d3, Chernin plays the usual solution 8...Nxd5 9.cxd5 Nd4 and has no troubles. In fact White is the one who has to play carefully.


Cyborowski - Laznicka, Legnica 2004 showcases an ultra-theoretical Hedgehog with 7.Re1 and 8.e4, a line that is considered more dangerous than those with d4 and ...cxd4 followed by Qxd4. Black has to have a lot of nerve (or a great memory) to play this one!

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0-0 a6 7.Re1 d6 8.e4 Be7 9.d4 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Qc7 11.Be3 0-0 12.Rc1 Nbd7 13.f4 Rfe8 14.g4 Nc5 15.Bf2

The starting point! I'll take a stab at the theory.

A movement away from theory characterizes Stojanovic - Kojovic, Obrenovac 2004:

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 c5 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.g3 Nc6 7.Bg2 0-0 8.0-0 Qa5!?

Formerly thought to be inferior, one wonders if this move is an alternative to the exhausted line 8...Nxd4 9.Qxd4 d6.


The next game Vukic - Kovacevic, Banja Luka 2004 tests the idea of playing a Saemisch variation à la Benoni with reversed colours: 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 c5 3.Bg2 Nc6 4.c4 d4 5.d3 e5 6.0-0 f6 This is the Saemisch reversed, soon to become a Benoni Reversed. 7.e3 Bg4:

I doubt that White can use his extra tempo to gain an advantage after 8.exd4 and either 8...cxd4 or 8...Nxd4 (as in the game).

New ideas on early moves keep popping up these days. In K Richardson - Pokorna, West Bromwich 2004, Black finds one on move 5 of an established position! And I can't find anything wrong with it:

1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 dxc4 5.Na3 Qd5!?:

I'm amazed that I can't find this move in my database! Probably someone else can, but my notes may be of interest anyway.


Finally, a brief review of a Polish/Sokolsky/Orang-Utan opening. A standard 1.b4 e5 position with a new idea arises in Zschalich - Werner, Halle 2004. Black has done brilliantly with these lines and it's not clear to me why White keeps playing them.


Please feel free to share any of your thoughts with Tony, whatever they are, suggestions, criticisms (just the polite ones, please), etc. Drop him a line at the Flank Openings Forum, or subscribers can write directly to

Till next month, John