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In this month's update, the main focus is on some games from the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk and the Russian Championship.
To round off this month's update I will also take a look at a line which is being discussed at the Forum, but despite it being an interesting option for Black and something of a problem for White (or so I gather from the Forum submissions), there is a surprising lack of examples with the line. In case you are still wondering what I'm talking about, scroll down to the bottom of this update, where I will give you my take on it.
By the way, the winners of the New Year's competition will be announced in the March Update.

Download PGN of February '08 Flank Openings games

Réti Opening

In the Russian Championship, Morozevich had an amazing run of six consecutive wins and ended up winning the tournament. In Tomashevsky - Morozevich, he displayed some of the reasons why he was such a force in this tournament. In a Réti, Black tried a new move: 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 d4 3 g3 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 exd4 cxd4 6 Bg2 e5 7 0-0 f6!? which hasn't been seen before in this position:

but if you flip the board around, you have a King's Indian Saemisch.


In Kir. Georgiev-Kasimdzhanov, the players opted for a reasonably rare and somewhat boring-looking line with 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 c6 3 g3 d5 4 Bg2 Bf5 5 cxd5 cxd5 6 Qb3 Qb6:

and now rather than the usual 7 Qxb6 axb6 8 Nc3, Georgiev allowed Black to double his b-pawns with 7 Nc3 Qxb3 8 axb3, which has been seen before, including in a 1970 Fischer game against Polugaevsky. Georgiev varied from the stem game with 10 Be3, and although it shouldn't prove overly problematic for Black - see move 15 for an improvement - White nevertheless won a nice game.

King's English: Four Knights

This time around we have no less than four games from different variations of the Four Knights.

Our first example comes from the World Cup, where the game Navara - Rublevsky produced an interesting novelty in the 4 a3 variation, after 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 a3 d5 5 cxd5 Nxd5 6 Qc2 Be7 7 e3 0-0 8 Nxd5 Qxd5 9 Bd3 Kh8 10 Be4 Qd6

Navara played 11 Qc3!?, after which Rublevsky reacted feebly and was subsequently handled in a brutal fashion and thoroughly trounced. Black appears to have a worthwhile alternative on move 11, which deserves a closer look.

Recently we have seen other examples from the 4 d4 line, but in Onischuk - Andriasian, the American player with White found a worthwhile gambit idea, that hasn't been tested before: 4 d4 exd4 5 Nxd4 Bb4, and now instead of the usual 6 Bg5, White tried Réti's 6 g3, and after 6...0-0 7 Bg2 Ne5

Onischuk played 8 0-0!? instead of the standard 8 Qb3 (which is also analysed in the notes). Black should be fine, but it gives the variation a different spin.

In another World Cup game we see Jakovenko - Shirov, where White needed a win after having lost the first game in their mini match, and somewhat surprisingly pulled the unusual 4 g3 d5 5 cxd5 Nxd5 6 Bg2 Nb6 7 0-0 Be7 8 b3!? out of the hat. Though the game remained contested until White's inaccurate 21st move, it is clear that Black has nothing to fear in this variation, provided he follows Shirov's set-up.

Going back to Tomashevsky and the Russian Championship, our fellow Flank Opening enthusiast won a nice game against one of the pre-tournament favourites Peter Svidler. After 4 g3 Bb4 5 Nd5 Bc5, Tomashevsky - Svidler followed another Tomashevsky game until Black varied on move 14, 6 Bg2 0-0 7 0-0 d6 8 e3 a6 9 d3 Ba7 10 Bd2 Nxd5 11 cxd5 Ne7 12 Qb3 c6 13 dxc6 Nxc6 14 Bc3, and now Svidler tried 14...Rb8:

, and rather amazingly went another four moves before leaving the path laid out in a correspondence game between two, to me, unknown entities.

Symmetrical English: Hedgehog

Another example of two top-rated grandmasters following a game by two completely unknown players can be found in Grischuk - Jakovenko, also from the Russian Championship. Grischuk played the non-critical: 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 c5 3 Nf3 e6 4 g3 b6 5 Bg2 Bb7 6 0-0 Be7 7 b3 d6 8 Bb2 0-0 9 e3 Nbd7 10 d4, and here Black went for 10...Ne4, which is one of the main lines:

Grischuk's answer 11 d5 is perfectly well-known, but since we haven't discussed this line before on this website, I have taken a look at the numerous alternatives at this juncture. The play doesn't resemble any usual Symmetrical English, but rather a line from the Queen's Indian, but is nevertheless still worth examining for our purposes.

A Line from the Forum

While browsing the Forum some time ago, I noticed the line 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 e6 3 g3 Nf6 4 Bg2 dxc4 5 Qc2 Qd5!? being discussed. Having spent some time analysing it and finding it variation better for White, I came across a very recent game, played just a few weeks ago, where a grandmaster drew a much lower rated player despite playing the White pieces, Matamaros Franco-Ibarra Chami, and actually should have lost the game.

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