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This month’s Update features some fresh and creative ideas, for both sides, in a variety of Réti lines.

Download PGN of March ’24 Flank Openings games

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Réti Opening, Polish System 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 g3 b5 [A05]

After 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 g3, the extended fianchetto 2...b5 is a fairly rare choice in high-level classical games. Keymer, V - Maghsoodloo, P reached the following position after 3 Bg2 Bb7 4 0-0 e6 5 b3 c5 6 c4 bxc4 7 bxc4 Nc6:

White is just slightly ahead in development, and tried to exploit this by opening the position starting with 11 d4, later winning a pawn with 16 Bf4. Black initially had good compensation, but later drifted into an inferior position.

Reversed Benoni, 1 c4 e6 2 g3 d5 3 Bg2 d4 4 Nf3 c5 [A13]

Nguyen, T - Gukesh, D opened with the Reversed Benoni line 1 c4 e6 2 g3 d5 3 Bg2 d4 4 Nf3 c5, where the omission of an early ...Ng8-f6 gives Black some extra flexibility.

After 5 0-0, Black left standard theoretical paths with 5...Ne7!?:

Black can follow up with ...Ne7-c6, leaving the b8-knight the choice of development via the a6- or the d7-square. After 6 d3 Nec6 7 e3 Be7, White delayed the typical 8 exd4 cxd4 trade, with the result that after 9...dxe3 10 Bxe3 e5, Black ended up getting nagging pressure due to the backward d3-pawn.

Réti Double Fianchetto vs. QGD setup 8 cxd5 [A14]

Following 1 Nf3 d5 2 b3 Nf6 3 Bb2 e6 4 c4, Black’s most principled approach is 4...c5, aiming for an early ...d5-d4. In Mamedyarov, S - Laurent-Paoli, P, Black instead went for quiet development with 4...b6 5 g3 Bb7 6 Bg2 Nbd7 7 0-0 Be7:

After 8 cxd5 exd5, White uncorked the cute idea 9 Nd4!? 0-0 10 Nf5. White's aim is simply to grab the bishop pair, and then continue with typical central play. Objectively, Black should be fine, but the resulting imbalance allowed Mamedyarov to play for a win.

Anti-Grünfeld, 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 e5 [A16]

Peyrer, K - Juhasz, A revisited the gambit line 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 e5 which we have covered in a number of earlier Updates. After 5 Nxe5 0-0, the mainline is 6 Nf3 Re8 7 d3, but this month’s game saw the less common 6 d3:

One point of White’s move order is that 6...Re8 can be answered by 7 f4! giving White a space advantage. Instead, 6...Nxe4 7 dxe4 Bxe5 is more double-edged. Black’s follow up was not quite energetic enough, however, and White was able to stabilize with a favourable Maroczy bind structure.

Anti-QGD System 4...Bd6, 6...Nc6 [A17]

Abel, D - Gajewski, G started with the popular line 1 Nf3 d5 2 e3 Nf6 3 c4 e6 4 Nc3 Bd6 5 b3 0-0 6 Bb2, but now 6...Nc6 was a fresh idea. White could now occupy the centre with 7 d4, but instead chose 7 a3:

Gajewski now unleashed the pawn sacrifice 7...d4!?, and following 8 Nxd4 Nxd4 9 exd4, the quiet move 9...c6 prepared the way for the ...e6-e5 break. After 10 Qc2 e5 11 dxe5 Bxe5, it turns out that the backward d-pawn hampers White's coordination, giving Black decent compensation.

Anti-QGD System 4...b6 [A13/17]

In the variation 1 Nf3 d5 2 e3 Nf6 3 c4 e6 4 Nc3 b6 5 b3 Bb7 6 Bb2 Nbd7, White usually trades pawns on the d5-square with 7 cxd5 (or earlier) but Iturrizaga Bonelli, E - Kollars, D instead continued with 7 g3:

This move order allows Black to mix things up with 7...dxc4 8 bxc4 e5, opening the h1-a8 diagonal, and aiming to exploit the weakened d3- and f3- squares in White's setup. Iturrizaga had played this line as White before, but after 9 Bg2 e4 10 Ng5 Nc5 11 0-0 h6 12 Nh3 Bd6 13 f4 Qe7, Black was doing fine.

King’s English, Keres System 1 c4 e5 2 g3 c6 3 Nf3 e4 [A20]

Lie, K - Lagarde, M opened with the topical line 1 c4 e5 2 g3 c6 3 Nf3 e4 4 Nd4 d5 5 cxd5 Qxd5 6 Nc2 Nf6 7 Nc3 Qe5 8 Bg2 Na6. Now 9 0-0 Be7 reaches a tabiya where we have looked at a range of 10th moves for White, but 9 Rb1 is a less common alternative, aiming to push through an early b2-b4.

After 9...Be7 10 b4 0-0 11 Bb2, Black misplaced the queen with 11...Qg5, allowing 12 h4, gaining time to disrupt Black's setup. A few moves later, White was able to capture the e4-pawn, but later let the advantage slip.

King’s English, 2 d3 [A20]

After 1 c4 e5, Keymer, V - Grigoriants, S continued with 2 d3, which Keymer has experimented with in a variety of game formats. The game continued 2...Nf6 3 Nf3 Bb4+ 4 Bd2 Bxd2+ 5 Qxd2 d6, and now 6 h3!? was a novelty:

White stays flexible, while preparing possible kingside expansion with g2-g4. Keymer continued in combative fashion with 9 0-0-0, 10 g4 and 11 g5. In a complex position, Black started to go astray with 18...Nb4, after which White rapidly whipped up a strong attack.

Until next month, David.

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