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Happy New Year!
As mentioned in my December update, I will continue my look at more of the fun and crazy games from the World Blitz Cup, played in Moscow this past November. Next month we will return with a look at some of the most important games from the World Cup, the Russian Championship and the Wijk aan Zee tournaments.
By the way, there is still time to send entries for the New Year's Competition to The deadline is at the end of February.

Download PGN of January '08 Flank Openings games

Bird's Opening

Via the Nimzo-Larsen Attack, the game Bacrot - Leko arrived in a Bird's Opening, where after 1 b3 c5 2 Bb2 Nc6 3 f4 d5 4 Nf3 Bg4 5 e3 a6:

White decided to play 6 d3?!, instead of the tested alternatives 6 Be2 and 6 h3, both of which appear to offer White excellent chances of gaining an edge.

English Defence

The majority of lines in the English Defence, and some would say the most exciting ones (which I will not dispute), are those where White plays 1 c4 b6 2 d4, but these lines are covered under Daring Defences, whereas the lines without 2 d4 are seen less frequently.

In Savchenko - Bacrot the game took on the character of a Classical Dutch, except White didn't play d4, but kept the pawn on d3. Rather amazingly, the players followed an old game between Reti and Tartakower from 1928: 1 c4 b6 2 Nf3 Bb7 3 g3 e6 4 Bg2 f5 5 0-0 Nf6 6 d3 Be7 7 Nc3 0-0 8 e4 fxe4 9 Ng5 Nc6!? 10 Ncxe4 Nxe4 11 Nxe4:

, and now rather than Tartakower's 11...Qe8!?, which is perfectly adequate for Black, Bacrot played 11...d5!?, which also appears satisfactory for Black.


With the Slav being so popular, we also see a fair share of players trying to avoid the main lines by adopting an English move order, and thus reserving the transposition to the Slav/Meran to a later stage such as in Korotylev - Ponomariov, where the game started with 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 d5 4 e3 a6 5 Qc2 g6 6 b3 Bg7 7 Bb2 0-0 8 Be2:

, but here Black played the inaccurate 8...Re8, and soon White had a slight plus, which Black helped increase on account of very dubious play.

Another example is Korotylev - Dreev, where Black played very accurately in the opening and obtained a pleasant game without too many difficulties: 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 c6 3 e3 Nf6 4 Nc3 e6 5 Qc2 Nbd7 6 Be2 Bd6 7 b3 0-0 8 Bb2 Re8 9 h3 dxc4!?:

, 10 bxc4 e5 11 d3 Nc5 12 Rd1 Qe7 and ended up winning a nice and instructive endgame.

Savchenko - Dreev is more of a Reti, with an early capture on f3.

Nimzo English

In the Nimzo-English, Kramnik got an opportunity to play one of his specialities: 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 g3 0-0 5 Qb3 c5 6 Bg2 Nc6 7 0-0:

, and here Kramnik - Carlsen continued with 7...d6, which proved fully adequate for Black.

In Gelfand - Adams, after 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3 6 Qxc3 b6 7 e3, Black played the unusual 7...a5:

however, after 8 b3 d6, White's normal-looking novelty 9 Bb2!? led him to a nice and convincing victory in a game where Black never appeared to be much of a factor.

King's English

In Carlsen - Gelfand, White's opening play was anything but ambitious in a Reversed Dragon Variation, and Black equalized without much fanfare. As the endgame approached Carlsen managed to squeeze an edge out of the position, and in fact should have won the game, before it concluded with blunders on both sides and a draw.

Black tried the rare 1 c4 e5 2 g3 f5!? in Kramnik - Bacrot, and got out of the opening with only a slight disadvantage:

Since we haven't covered this line previously on I have taken a look at some of the previous games with this line in the notes as well. In this game Black did quite well, and actually missed a couple of winning chances towards the end of the game.

Symmetrical English: Anti-Benoni

Gelfand - Korotylev saw a debate in a seldom played side line of the Anti-Benoni, 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 Nf3 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 g3 e6 6 Bg2 Qb6 7 Nb3 Bb4+ 8 Bd2:

, and now instead of 8...a5 and 8...d5, which are both briefly mentioned in ECO, Black opted for 8...Ne5!?, which actually appears to offer him better chances than the alternatives, all of which are covered in detail in the annotations to the game.

The two top Ukrainian players battled in a relatively rare line of the Anti-Benoni, 1 Nf3 c5 2 c4 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 e6 5 g3 Bb4+ 6 Nc3 Nf6 7 Bg2 0-0 8 0-0 Ne5 9 Qb3 Be7, and now White played 10 Rd1:

followed by Bf4, with a better game in Ivanchuk - Ponomariov.

Symmetrical English: Other Lines

Grischuk - Shirov started out as a Anti-Grunfeld, where White decided to avoid the lines with an early Qa4+ that have been so popular the last year or so, and instead gave preference to 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 g3. However, very shortly after the game transposed to a sideline of the A34 Symmetrical English, which isn't thought of as anything special for White. With his 11th move, Black strayed away from the recommended line in ECO, but as you will see in the notes, I think I have found an improvement for White, leaving Black with an uncomfortable game. Instead the game for a short while followed a Tal game from 1972, until White deviated with an unconvincing novelty.

As I'm sure we are all aware, the Symmetrical English contains more transpositions than we can bother to notice, yet the fact that the game Bacrot - Savchenko managed to locate a line that is goes more or less unmentioned in all current works on this complex of variations is quite surprising. Therefore I have taken the liberty to examine the position after White's 11th move in some detail:

Initially the game was a fairly even affair with perhaps a tiny edge for White. Nevertheless, White managed to expand this to a winning position, until a series of truly bad moves by White handed Black the victory.

Bye, Carsten


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