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This month a host of Symmetrical English Openings and Rétis. How much further the Petroff Syndrome can infect chess at the top is unknown, but in the middle-to-upper ranges we see signs of a return to over-the-board spontaneity.

The Réti is a particularly fertile area for experimentation because it is so flexible. Consequently its theory is relatively open. This has attracted Morozevich and Ivanchuk of late; let's see if others follow.

Download PGN of July '05 Flank Openings games


English 1...e5

In the Classical main-line Four Knights English, the great Portisch coasts to victory against Warakomski in the 6th EICC Warsaw 2005. He certainly knows this old line:

and in the notes we see him grinding out another win in the same variation, see Game 1.

English Symmetrical 1...c5

The line employed in Izoria - Palac, 6th EICC Warsaw 2005 used to serve as a sure equalizer, but no more.

A battle between elite players strays early from the beaten path as Black finds a dynamic solution to his problems and things go crazy. Ivanchuk - Nisipeanu, 6th EICC Warsaw 2005:

Black seems to be under some pressure but finds his way into chaos.

Last time we talked about c4, d3, e4 structures in The Symmetrical English. Laylo - De Firmian, HB Global Chess Challenge 2005 illustrates the standard defensive maneuver ...Ne8-c7-e6 against it:

Can White prevent this?

We've discussed the move 9.c5!? in the old main line of the Symmetrical English:

Nagle - Perelshteyn, HB Global Chess Challenge 2005 shows how Black can meet the idea tactically and come out well.

Khismatullin - Iljushin, ch-Privolzhsky Region 2005 is mainly a review and catch-up with the theory of a critical (if boring) line of the Four Knights Symmetrical. Here's the familiar starting point:

Finally, the beautiful game Khismatullin - Firman, 6th EICC Warsaw 2005 shows White gaining both time and flexibility in the same opening reversed, omitting 0-0 and playing Nd2-f1-e3 ! This should succeed but didn't when Black threw the kitchen sink at White and scored a very lucky but wonderful knockout..

Here Black played 16...exf4!?, which has about as much chance of succeeding as it looks like. But it did!

Réti Opening

Kostic - Brkljaca, Zepter 2005 is a traditional main-line Réti that re-illustrates how a seemingly natural move has never made the grade.

How can a paralyzing move such as ...Qd3 be bad?

In the main-line Réti Opening, Black advances with an early ...a5-a4 in Ivanchuk - Asrian, 6th EICC Warsaw 2005. It's interesting to see how Ivanchuk responds to this popular and successful line.

Playing yet another theoretical line, Black tries to break out too early in Galyas - Paridar, Budapest 2005

Here Black played 11...e5!?, which was tempting but not quite up to snuff.

In Vukic - Stojanovic, Neum BIH 2005 (and Vukic-Ribic, Neum BIH 2005 in the notes) we see a line that has traditionally been considered satisfactory for Black, but neither player of Black proves it here:

There's still some poison in this position and Black must tread carefully.

Pavlovic - Smirnov, 6th EICC Warsaw 2005 provides a third example of the same line: in the notes we mention the same ...exd4 line (with small adjustments), But the main game features a Reversed Benoni with ...cxd4.

Here White played 14.c5! . Typical Benoni stuff. A slugfest erupted as Black slowly developing a kingside attack, one that White could have neutralized at several points. Suddenly there's a resignation. I have no idea why.


Please feel free to share any of your thoughts with me, whatever they are, suggestions, criticisms, etc. Drop me a line at the Flank Openings Forum, or subscribers can write directly to

Till next month, John