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Hi everyone! The summer is upon us and tournaments are being played everywhere, yet it seems that my focus in this update has stuck on only a couple of events, but this is by sheer coincidence. The majority of the games are from the Spanish Team Championship where many of the highest rated players of today took part.
In the upcoming months I will include small theoretical specials featuring variations and sub-variations that fall within our topic of Flank Openings. If there are any preferences, feel free to send me an e-mail or post a thread in the Forum, and please be a little specific, not something general like "I would like to see full coverage of the Hedgehog" or "How about the Nimzo-Larsen Attack?". One specific line could be 1 c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 g3 g6 4 Bg2 Bg7 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 d4 cxd4 7 Nxd4 0-0 8 0-0 d6!? or 8...Ng4 or 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 e3 Bb4 5 Qc2 0-0 6 Nd5 Re8 7 Qf5 or maybe something else. I will be awaiting your input or I may come up with something I find of interest.
Have a great month!

Download PGN of July '07 Flank Openings games

Réti Opening/King's Indian Attack

In our first example, we will take a look at a line which at first glance appears to make excellent sense, Black fianchettos first his queenside bishop to prevent White from playing the standard e2-e4 advance in the King's Indian Attack, but as we will see in the game Cacho Reigadas-Khamrakulov, White will actually obtain excellent chances if he goes ahead with it anyway:

This is the position after White's 7 e4.

Romanishin Gambit

The Romanishin Gambit starts with the moves 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 g3 a6 4 Bg2 b5:

and now White can win a pawn with 5 Nd4 c6 6 cxb5 axb5 7 Nxb5, but this generally considered a bad idea. The line was discussed at length in volume 5 in the new 'Secrets of Chess Opening Surprises' series for New In Chess, something that may boost its popularity amongst more average players, while it is already found in the repertoires of numerous grandmasters. In Damljanovic - Ki.Georgiev White tested an interesting idea, 5 b3 c5 6 Nc3 Qb6 7 e4!?:

and when Black played the sensible 7...d6, White again struck in the centre with 8 d4!?. Also after the 7th move alternatives things are not as rosy as Mikhalchishin and others have made it look like. The supporting analysis I have provided indicates some of the problems for Black.

King's English: Keres Variation

In the King's English, the Keres Variation with 3...c6 is getting more and more traction as a result of Black obtaining decent results with it. A lengthy thread has been running on the Forum as well. In Marin - Bacrot, the Rumanian grandmaster plays some standard moves, until he plays the unusual and not very good 10 Nd4:

It seems Black effortlessly achieves the better chances in this line, although Bacrot makes it look almost devastating. Therefore, I have taken a look at White's 10th move alternatives as well. There is still plenty of ideas to be tried and tested; the last word has certainly not been said yet.

King's English: Four Knights

In Milov - Lopez Martinez, White chose an innocuous-looking set-up:

It appears Black should be able equalize against in any number of ways, and therefore it has always baffled me when I have seen a strong player using it as White. But things are rarely as simple as they seem on the surface, in this game Black's natural-looking 7...a5 soon ended up taking him down a wrong path. Milov's effort was both smooth and very instructive. After some analysis, it appears to me that Black's best may well be 7...d5!?.


In last month's update we examined Aronian-Carlsen in detail, and it turns out that shortly after, the improvement suggested here was tested in the game Nielsen - Akopian. The move 12...Ne8!? proved to be a more or less clean equalizer:

So White should take a look at the other options discussed in the notes to Aronian-Carlsen.

Pure Symmetrical

This time around we have two examples in this variation. The first is a blast from the past, when White, rather than playing the standard 10th move alternatives, played 10 Bg5:

This was played by Fischer against Spassky in the 1972 match, amongst others, but the line has almost disappeared from top chess nowadays, because it has been established that 10 Qd3 offers better chances for an edge for White. The game Rivas Pastor-Sanchez Guirado continued with 10...Be6 11 Qh4, and soon White obtained an advantage. Another example of the advantages of using a rare, but fully playable line. In my book on the Symmetrical English the line is barely mentioned, while Watson's 1980 volume on the same topic provided considerably more insight on this nowadays rare line. Nonetheless, Black's best line against this variation is probably 12...a6!? which can be found in the notes. As far as I can see, it has only been tested once, in an obscure game from 1973.

Finally, in Bu Xiangzhi-Zhang Ziyang, the former prodigy posted a beautiful positional effort before crowning it with a mating attack. The line in question is 10...a6 11 Bd2 Rb8 12 Rac1 Nd7:

This appears to be more problematic for Black than the established theory normally considers it to be. Black players should probably head towards 12...b5!? which has previously been covered here.

See you next month, Carsten


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