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As your new columnist I feel it is appropriate that I introduce myself properly as not all of you may know who I am, so please first have a look at the Carsten Hansen Bio.
In January and February there has been a major influx of games from the traditional tournaments around New Year's Eve as well as regular features such as the Corus tournaments in Wijk aan Zee and the GibTelecom Masters in Gibraltar, both tournaments featured a long list of distinguished players, and therefore an awful lot of exciting chess was played, including many featuring flank openings.

Download PGN of February '07 Flank Openings games

English: Pseudo Grünfeld

The past month saw two closely related lines featuring a fair amount of games. In Kramnik - Shirov, Kramnik tried 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Qa4+, and won rather easily:

In its aftermath, a number of games immediately followed Kramnik's recipe. including Navarra - Svidler from the same tournament. Svidler deviated with 6...a6 and postponed the development of the dark-squared bishop.

A related idea was tested in Bu Xiangzhi-Vachier Lagrave, 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Qa4+, which hasn't seen the same success or following as Kramnik's line, but nonetheless has some merit.

English: Dutch Lines

One of the redeeming features of the English Opening is that the Dutch set-ups carry a relatively moderate punch.

The Leningrad set-up (1...f5, 2...Nf6, 3..g6, 4...Bg7) will usually involve a ...e7-e5 at some point, transposing the game into lines that arise from 1 c4 e5, whereas the Stonewall (1...f5, 2...Nf6, 3...e6, 4...d5 and 5...c6) makes very little sense due to the fact that Black takes on weaknesses of the dark squares, but unlike the Dutch proper, Black doesn't gain any control over the e4-square, as White has committed himself with d2-d4 yet, and therefore can play d2-d3.

Finally we have the Classical set-up (1...f5, 2...Nf6, 3...e6, 4...Be7 followed by ...0-0 and ...d6), which has been popularised by English International Master Simon Williams. Black's idea is to play ...e6-e5 after proper preparation, yet if White proceeds along standard paths, Black's ...e7-e6 followed by ...e6-e5 will essentially amount to a loss of a tempo. Two interesting recent games are: Gofshtein - Williams and Ribli - Muranyi.

King's English with ...e5

First we will take a look at a line, which has a fair following, but I personally have a hard time understanding why, 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Nf3 g6 4 d4 exd4 5 Nxd4 Bg7 6 Nxc6 bxc6 7 g3 Ne7 8 Bg2:

In my opinion White obtains the better chances without too much effort, which the game Seirawan - Kritz perfectly illustrates.

In Wijk aan Zee, the Reversed Dragon saw some action, and we will take a look at the development in those games after 7...Be7:

Van Wely-Motylev and Van Wely-Tiviakov both saw White try 8 a3, while Aronian - Topalov examined the consequences after 8 Rb1!?.

Symmetrical English

Finally, I will round off with one of my own games, played just this weekend at the US Amateur Team East tournament. For those who are not familiar with this tournament, it is a team tournament with four players on each team, the average rating for the team has to be below 2200 USCF, so if you show up with a couple of grandmasters on the top boards, as some teams did, the other two players have to pull the average down. There isn't any prize money, but you play for trophies, chess sets, chess clocks and of course honour. This year 294 teams participated in Parsipanny (New Jersey); the same weekend similar tournaments were being held in Los Angeles (California), Orlando (Florida) and Chicago (Illinois)! I played the English in two games. In the first of my games, Hansen - Meredith, I tried out an inspired idea that tempted me at the board, 7 Bxc6!?:

The other game was against grandmaster Fedorowicz, a game which ended in a relatively quick draw.


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