ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
In this month's update we again return to the European Individual Championship. This time the lines are decidedly more common than the ones examined in the June update, but are nevertheless lines we haven't examined for a while.

Download PGN of July '08 Flank Openings games


We start out this month's update with a line that puzzles me a bit. It has been tried by Magnus Carlsen as well as several other grandmasters. The line in question is 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 g3 d5 4 Bg2, and now, I suppose to prevent the Catalan, Black plays 4...d4!?. To me this looks like a worse version, for Black, of 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 d4, because Black here has already played ...e7-e6 and will usually have to follow-up with ...e6-e5. In Istratescu - Papadopoulos the players continued with 5 0-0 Nc6 6 d3 Be7 7 e3 e5 8 exd4 exd4 9 Na3:

And here Black came up with the new, but not particularly good, 9...Nb4?!, and White was soon clearly better. I have examined several of the alternatives for both sides up to this point, and White seems to have very good chances throughout and indeed opportunity to play some solid improvements over current theory.

Anglo-Indian: Anti-Grünfeld

In Damljanovic - Areshchenko, we see White start out with the nowadays quite popular 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Qa4+ Nd7 5 Qb3 dxc4 6 Qxc4 a6, but here instead of the normal 7 d4 or 7 e4, White opts for 7 g3:

This is less critical, but worth exploring as an alternative to the more theory-heavy main lines. After 7...Bg7 (also 7...b5 can be considered) 8 Bg2 Nc6 9 d4 Be6 10 Qa4 0-0 11 0-0 Nd5!, the chances were more or less even, though I would rather play White, but then again I'm not a great connoisseur of the Grünfeld either.

Another variation of the Anti-Grünfeld was tested in Iljin - Sutovsky, where Black after 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 cxd5 Nxd5 4 g3 g6 5 Bg2 Nxc3 6 bxc3 Bg7 7 Rb1, went for the slightly unusual 7...Nc6, which we haven't examined in detail before. Therefore I have outlined White's 8th move alternatives in detail. In the game White continued with 8 Nf3, following an earlier game with 8...0-0 9 Qc2 b6 10 0-0 Bb7 11 d4 Na5 12 e4, and here Sutovsky played a novelty, though the idea is known from other lines of the Grünfeld, 12...c5 13 dxc5 Qc7!

The chances are more or less even, but in the game Black took over the initiative and won nicely.

King's English

In Vitiugov - Blagojevic Black tried a line we haven't looked at in a while: 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Nf3 f5 4 d4 e4, and now rather than the usual knight moves, White opted for the somewhat unambitious 5 d5. One interesting point is that 5...Nce7, which is an attempt by Black to keep the game sharp, is probably dubious on account of an idea I'm suggesting in the notes. Nevertheless, Black went for the solid and normal 5...exf3, and then after 6 dxc6 fxg2 7 cxd7+ Qxd7, White played 8 Qxd7+:

which we haven't looked at before. White played a novelty on move 11, but I doubt this line will see a lot of action in the future.

Symmetrical English

After 1 c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 e6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Ndb5, the normal move is 6...d5, which leads to a fairly equal game. A sharper alternative can be found in 6...Bb4, which we will look closer at in Savchenko - Chudinovskih. White follows up with 7 Bf4, and then after 7...0-0, we have previously examined 8 Bd6, but White has an interesting alternative in 8 Bc7 Qe7 and only then 9 Bd6. There isn't an awful lot written about this line in the various works I have consulted, so I have taken a good look at the position after 9...Bxd6 10 Qxd6 Qd8:

here White has quite a selection of moves available; compared to the existing theory there appears to be room for improvements in several of the lines, and I think White may be able to claim an edge. In our main game White played 11 e4, which Black countered with the novelty 11...e5, which isn't very convincing, though the alternatives don't seem to be fully adequate either.

In Markowski - Iotov, after 1 g3 c5 2 Bg2 Nc6 3 c4 g6 4 Nc3 Bg7, White played the odd-looking 5 Rb1, which of course can transpose into normal lines after 5...Rb8 6 a3 a6, which is a line we will return to in next month's update. However, White's unusual 5th move must have inspired Black to try something special too, and went for the unconventional 5...b6, and then after 6 e3, he pulled 6...Nh6 out of the hat, diverging from 6...Bb7 which is usually the move quoted in books covering this line. After 7 Nge2 Nf5 8 0-0 Bb7 9 d3 0-0 10 b3 d6:

White played the solid and somewhat sedentary 11 Bb2, whereas I prefer 11 d4!?. Nevertheless, the game eventually took a sharp turn, and despite holding an edge, White went down after a serious of dubious and bad moves.

Likewise in our final game of this update, Braun - Petrosian, Black used a set-up with ...Nh6: 1 Nf3 c5 2 c4 Nc6 3 Nc3 g6 4 g3 Bg7 5 Bg2 Nh6, which is usually met by either 6 d4 or 6 h4, both of which should promise White an edge. In our main game White instead went for the tame 6 0-0, which inspired Black to sharpen the game dramatically with 6...0-0 7 d3 a6 8 Rb1 Nf5 9 a3 b5!?:

This has been played before though only in very few games, and it certainly deserves further tests. However, if White knows what he is doing in this line, he will likely opt for 6 d4 or 6 h4, rather than this line.

See you next month, 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