ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
At the moment we have all the tournaments we can hope for, we had the first tournament in the Fide Grand Prix, from which we will see a couple of games, the M-Tel tournament in Bulgaria, the President's Cup in Baku, the US Championship in Oklahoma, the Capablanca Memorial in Havana and of course the huge European Championship which I will return to in next month's update.

Download PGN of May '08 Flank Openings games

Reversed Pirc

In the annual Sigeman tournament in Malmö, Sweden, the Swedish Grandmaster Tiger Hillarp-Persson played his best tournament in years. While he played several interesting games, one in particular, Hillarp Persson-Smith caught my attention. The opening moves produced a Reversed Pirc: 1 g3 Nf6 2 Bg2 d5 3 d3 e5 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 0-0 Be7 6 a3 a5 7 Nc3 0-0 8 e3, which of course is playable and perfectly solid, but the position the players reached shortly after is absolutely hilarious:

The game turned out to be quite interesting, though Black played like a scared mouse.

Réti Opening

In Timman - Glek from the French Team Championship, Black played a solid line against White's Réti: 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 g3 g6 3 b3 Bg7 4 Bb2 0-0 5 Bg2 d5 6 c4 c6 7 0-0 a5 8 d3 Bg4 9 Nbd2 Nbd7:

Despite this line having been played reasonably frequently in top level chess, I have always preferred having the white pieces in this line; it seems to me that White has easier access to good plans, whereas Black can spend a lot of time neutralizing White's slight initiative. In the featured game, the Dutch veteran completely outplays his experienced opponent.


We have seen quite a bit of the Anglo-Indian version of the Nimzo lately. This time there is another interesting game from the Fide Grand Prix tournament in Baku. In Grischuk - Adams, the players quickly reached a position we have looked at before: 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3 6 Qxc3 b6 7 e3 c5 8 Be2 d6 9 0-0 Bb7 10 b4:

but now, rather than the normal 10...Nbd7, Adams played a novelty with the somewhat provocative 10...e5, attempting to close the position for White's bishops. I think White has the better chances, as demonstrated in the annotations, but the idea is definitely noteworthy, because Black has had his share of problems in this line.

King's English

Back when I as a kid started playing the English Opening as White, it was inspired by Kortchnoi who had played it repeatedly against Karpov in the matches in 1978 and 1981. It is unclear why the opening appealed to me at the time, because none of my fellow scholastic players had ever considered playing 1 c4. However, to this date I'm still filled with joy whenever I see Kortchnoi play the English Opening.

From this year's Russian Team Championship, the game Kortchnoi - Rublevsky drew my attention. After 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 a3 d5 5 cxd5 Nxd5 6 Qc2, Rublevsky opted for 6...Nxc3, which we haven't discussed previously on this website. After 7 bxc3 Bd6 8 g3 Qe7 9 d3 b6!? 10 Bg2 Bb7 11 0-0:

, he played the new 11...Na5!? which seems to equalize. Nevertheless, Black still got himself into trouble and was extremely lucky to get away with a draw.

In the Reversed Dragon, we have recently seen a lot of action at top level. In this update we have no less than two new games. The first is Carlsen - Cheparinov from the Grand Prix tournament in Baku. The game started with the automatic 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 g3 d5 5 cxd5 Nxd5 6 Bg2 Nb6 7 0-0 Be7 8 a3 0-0 9 b4 Be6 10 d3 f6 11 Rb1 Nd4 12 Nd2 c6, which we have covered several times, and here Carlsen played the relatively rare 13 e3!?:

which I suspect we will see more frequently in the future. While Black should be okay on account of his novelty on move 15, White still gained an edge and probably should have won.

Another e2-e3 idea was tested in Nakamura - Bauer from the French Team Championship, where 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 g3 d5 5 cxd5 Nxd5 6 Bg2 Nb6 7 0-0 Be7 8 d3 0-0 9 a3 Be6 10 b4 a5 11 b5 Nd4 12 Rb1 f6 was played, and now the American Grandmaster continued 13 e3:

This has been seen before, but Nakamura's idea came to light after 13...Nxf3+ 14 Bxf3 Rb8, when he played the new 15 Qc2!? intending Rd1, d4 with a good game. Bauer defended well for a while, but fell apart in the endgame due to pressure from White's accurate play.

Symmetrical English

In last month's update we discussed Kramnik-Ivanchuk, and as promised then we return to the line in this month's update to examine the latest development which was seen in the Carlsen - Gashimov from the Grand Prix tournament in Baku where the eventual co-winners played an interesting game, though with Black defending all the way. This line is problematic for Black and really cannot be recommended unless you enjoy suffering.

Our next main game, Gelashvili - Safarli, started with a highly unusual move order 1 Nf3 c5 2 e3 Nf6 3 d4, but after 3...g6 4 c4 Bg7 5 Nc3 cxd4 6 exd4 0-0, the players had negotiated their way to a position we have all seen before. This, however, was soon changed after 7 d5!?, and now Black took the drastic measure 7...e5!?:

White gained a clear advantage out of the opening, but thanks to creative and sharp play by Black and inaccurate defence by White, Black could have won the game in several ways before throwing everything away before the time control and ultimately losing. A crazy, but absolutely enjoyable game.

The final game is an appetizer for next month's update where I will focus on the European Championship where scores of grandmasters and strong international master participated. In such an event, all sorts of openings are played, both fairly irregular ones as well as highly topical ones. In the game Grigoriants - Tregubov, the grandmaster behind the white pieces loses the shortest game of his career.

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