ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
We are approaching the busiest time of the year when it comes to chess tournaments and the choice of games and variations to cover is wider than ever. In this month's update I decided to look at some lines that haven't been discussed in these pages for a while.
I also want to extend an apology for the delay in getting this update to you. My day job in the shipping industry has had me out travelling for several weeks. The June update should follow in a week's time.

Download PGN of May '07 Flank Openings games

Tiger's Modern Attack

Some of you may be familiar with the Swedish Grandmaster Tiger Hillarp Persson's favourite line in the Modern Defence, 1 e4 d6 2 d4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 Nf3 a6 followed by ...b7-b5, ...Bb7, ...Nd7 and ...c7-c5, but not necessarily in that move order. In the game that we will look at, the Armenian Grandmaster Minasian employs Tiger's set-up with the white pieces. Obviously White cannot expect to gain an advantage in this fashion right out of the opening, but this wasn't necessarily Minasian's intention, he was seeking something original, something to take the solid, positional, Ramesh out of his comfort zone.

After a few moves, White had succeeded in that endavour - this is the position after White's 8th move, see Minasian - Ramesh.

Réti Opening

The Reti is a very flexible opening for both players, as it allows both sides to direct the game. When suggesting the opening to average players, one of the first questions I get is nearly always, "what do I do after 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 dxc4?". White can go in several directions, but one of the more popular choices is 3 Na3. In the game Nisipeanu - Sasikiran from the recent Sofia tournament, White called on this line, but it seems to me that Black can reach a solid position with equal chances at almost no effort:

This line is quite simple to play for Black, so if you play this line as White, you may want to study the sidelines carefully to gain an understanding of the subtleties of this line, because otherwise there is very little room to outplay your opponent. On the other hand, if you are looking for an uncomplicated line as Black against 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4, this could be an idea.

English: Nimzo-System

The lines that fall under this header are in my opinion normally fairly quiet, but in our featured game Shchekachev - Prasad, White tries the combative 5 e4!?:

which takes the game in a completely different direction. While Black's good options are very limited, he may want to consider the untried idea suggested as an alternative to Black's 6th move. In the game, we see a very unusual position after just seven moves:

yet it quickly fades out to a fascinating and very instructive positional battle, which I personally enjoyed, I think you may just do the same.

King's English with ...e5

Of the many 4th alternatives White has available after 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6, 4 d4!? is easily one of the sharpest and most challenging for both players. White strives for a quick activation of his pieces, often at the cost of a damaged pawn structure, while Black tries to fend of White's initiative, also making concessions regarding pawn structure and bishop pair:

In the main game, Naiditsch - Savchenko, Black opts for 4...exd4, but the alternative 4...e4 has been discussed in a previous update, and I am presenting some new ideas for Black that weren't covered by Smirin in his game annotations in Chess Informant and as far as I can see, not anywhere else either. The ball is clearly in White's court in that particular line. Moving back to our main game, White plays the very rare 9 Nxc6, which doesn't appear to amount to anything much for White, but is certainly worth a look. However, in addition, I have taken a look at the more critical line 9 Be2, where I look at something that appears to improve over the lines I discussed in my book Gambit Guide to the English Opening: 1...e5, which, I may add, is again available after having been out of print for a while.

Symmetrical English

In this last segment, there are no less than three recent games by Kramnik, though not all showing him from his best sides.

In the first game, Kramnik - Aronian, from their rapid match in Yerevan, the players continue their battle in the Hedgehog. After White's 16th move, we reach the following position:

where Aronian plays the main move 16...Re8, but another move that deserves serious attention is 16...Bf6, which was played in another recent game, Goloshchapov-Ftacnik, and this is analysed in the notes to the main game. The big surprise in our main game is that Aronian deviates at move 18 from the line that gave Kasparov excellent play against Karpov in their first real mano-a-mano game from the 1981 Soviet Spartikade. Kramnik seems to hold the better chances until around move 30, at which point he very promptly falls apart.

Next we examine the third match game from his rapid match in Hungary against Leko. In Kramnik - Leko(3), Kramnik plays a rather rare line, yet delivers a simple, yet powerful idea that allows him to squeeze Leko for many moves, Gelfand's 15 Kd1!:

The idea is very subtle, but the play that follows is very instructive, which not even a few blunders from both sides towards the end of the game can change.

Then we move on to Kramnik - Leko(1), where Kramnik employs an old Kortchnoi favourite 6 Bg5:

However, Leko comes up with a surprisingly rare and effective idea, which will likely cause White to shelve Kortchnoi's move for a while: 6...Be7 7 e3 Qa5!

In this month's last game, we will examine Short - Aroshidze, in which the English Grandmaster surprisingly plays the English, but plays it very well and with quite a bit of competence. here is the position after 14 h3:

In my opinion this line is a bit passive for Black, but Black normally does okay if he familiar with the most common ideas and strategies. Yet in our main game, Short exchanges a series of pieces, only to leave Black in a rather depressing endgame, which Short duly managed to win.

That's it for now, I will return in a few days with the next update. 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