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This month I thought that I'd get away from the Symmetrical English Openings that have provided a high percentage of the material in this column. In fact, there were some great 1.c4 c5 games but I'll wait until next month to incorporate them with new material. We're left with several 1...e5 games, one Réti Opening, and one English Defence. As always, the Mikenas Attack marches on, scoring 8.5-1.5 ...for Black! We'll see quite a few of those games. I've devoted too much space to the Mikenas variation in general over the last year, and will try to correct the balance in future columns.


Download PGN of July '06 Flank Openings games

King's English (1...e5)

Perez Fungueiro-Hamdouchi, III Open Sanxenxo 2006 sees 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 h6!?:

The move 3...h6 (and similar early ...h6 moves) has become all the rage following Anand's use of it (with a few other GMs preceding him). The idea is that ...h6 will come in handy in every line, so Black doesn't show his cards yet. White is still looking for the right system with which to counter this idea.

Sarakauskas - Kiik, Jyvaskyla FIN 2006 features a popular temporary sacrifice for Black that has become a fixture and seems to offer equality, namely, 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Bc5 5.e3 d5!:

This move has been around long enough that its soundness isn't in question. Whether White can gain even a small advantage is still being disputed. In this case Black has an even game before allowing White to establish a mobile centre. That in turn become a space advantage, then White built up a big attack and won in fine style.

Black's defence in Mulyar - Revesz, Philadelphia 2006 has been popular for many years and has resisted White's attempts to gain an advantage against it: 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.Nf3 f5 7.0-0 Nf6. For some reason it has eluded us in ChessPublishing, but no longer. In the notes I give an overview of the main line 8.Rb1. Instead Mulyar tries the rare move 8.Nd5:

This move isn't mentioned in Hansen's excellent survey of the ...f5, ...Nf6 system. White produces a nice positional win in a game with almost no tactical element involved. Whether or not it improves upon previous efforts, 8.Nd5 at least deserves attention.

English 1...Nf6 & others

As mentioned above Black scored 8.5-1.5 in the Mikenas Attack (this comes from the latest four issues of TWIC, i.e., since last month). Granted, a couple of these were in irregular lines for White (that is, irregular and bad!); and in several of them White stood better out of the opening. Nevertheless we see a few interesting games in which Black is doing better than theory would have it. Since I'm always presenting nice wins for White, let's see a few victories by Black and only one by White. They might even encourage the Nimzo-Indian player who would like to start out by 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6.

This position, a relatively safe choice for Black, arises after 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 c5 4.e5 Ng8 5.Nf3 d6 6.exd6 Bxd6 7.d4 cxd4. It occurred in two games. White continued 8.Qxd4 in Flores - Garcia, Andorra 2006 and shouldn't have gotten much.

But in Tsarouhas - Vouldis, Ermioni 2006, White followed up by 8.Nxd4 a6 and played the interesting innovation 9.Nb3:

There is quite a history with 9.Be3 and 9.Be2, yielding very little if anything for White, so this new idea is of some significance. White wants to grab dark squares via the move c5.

Ronchetti - Brunello, Montecatini Terme 2006 features the line with 1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.e4 d5 4.e5 d4 5.exf6 dxc3 6.bxc3 Qxf6 7.d4 e5 8.Nf3 exd4 9.Bg5 Qe6+ 10.Be2 f6 11.Nxd4 Qf7. At this point, either White didn't like or didn't know about Ni Hua-Aleksandrov, Calcutta IND 2004, which I analysed in a previous column (and insert into this game, with notes). Instead of the spectacular 12.Bh6!, he chose the old move 12.Bf4. A few moves later this position arose:

White has a lead in development but Black has positional advantages. He outplays his opponent convincingly in what followed.

In the next contest, Nikologorskiy - Nikoaev, St Peterburg 2006, we see another old main line. White's development must be weighed against his weak queenside dark squares. Here is the position after 14...Na5:

Black achieves his positional goals and the game turns completely around in a few moves.

Michalik - Petrik, Banska Stiavnica 2006 features the very main line of the 3.e4 c5 variation that goes 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 c5 4.e5 Ng8 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.d4 cxd4 7.Nxd4 Nxe5 8.Ndb5 a6 9.Nd6+ Bxd6 10.Qxd6 f6 11.Be3 Ne7 12.Bb6 Nf5 13.Qc5:

This variation became well-known after Kasparov (as White) won two fantastic games against Sokolov and Belyavsky. White's two bishops provide compensation for the pawn. The question seems to be: do they offer more than enough compensation, or can Black hold the balance? In this game Black played an innovation well into the game and indeed got a small advantage. Of course there are many options for both sides in this complex variation. Nevertheless, the ball's in White's court.

Réti and Other Flank Openings

We have seen White's standard Reti attack versus ...Nf6/...e6/...d5 several times. In Karlsson - Brynell, Gothenburg 2006, Karlsson exploits Black's move order to set up a Tarrasch-like system. Brynell shows that Black has little trouble meeting it.

Here White played 8.cxd5. Black could have played 8...Nxd5, but chose 8...exd5, when 9.d4 followed, leading to an isolated queen's pawn position (actually transposing to D30).

The system that White uses in Van der Elburg-Spoelman, 3rd ACT Amsterdam 2006, 1.c4 b6 2.Nc3 Bb7 3.e4 e6 4.g3, is played a lot against the English Defence because it looks safe, but it always seems to lose!

Objectively things are probably barely adequate for the first player, but essentially White grants Black a central majority and activity, so he will be struggling.


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, John