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With the large volume of major individual and team tournaments, there has once again been a large volume of game to select from. There are a couple of interesting new, strong ideas in the Anglo Grunfeld, the Hedgehog and Anti-Benoni, along with some lines that haven't been discussed for a while on this site, so I have updated our knowledge with thorough reviews of them.

Download PGN of November '07 Flank Openings games

Réti Opening

Morozevich has started playing the Reti with some frequency, which seems a less than obvious choice for him, but his results are very decent, and it is noteworthy that often top players are both poorly prepared for it and plays the positions rather feebly, leaving White with good chances of obtaining a good game. In a game from the European Team Championship, Morozevich - Tkachiev, Black ends up playing a variation with a tempo less than normal. The variation in question is 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 g6 4 c4 c6 5 b3 Bg7 6 Bb2 0-0 7 0-0:

and now, rather than the more popular lines 7...Nbd7, 7...Bg4, 7...a5, 7...Bf5, and 7...Re8, Black chose 7...dxc4 8 bxc4 c5. This line has been played before, for instance in Gelfand-Svidler, Biel 2001, where White achieved little. Morozevich deviated from this game on move 10, and thanks to a dubious knight maneuver by Tkachiev soon gained a clear advantage.

In Krasenkow - Nakamura we find a game which Nakamura calls his best ever, which is hardly surprising when you play through it. However, it contained several interesting ideas that haven't been discussed on this website before. In Nakamura's annotations in the recent New In Chess Magazine (2007/8), he browses very quickly through the opening. The first place I would have liked to stop him was after White's 7th move:

Here he answered 7...c6, but a major alternative is 7...d4 which seems both obvious and good, but in fact, as we will see from the analysis I have conducted, Black has to play very accurately to have a chance to equalize, and that may not even happen.

Later on, in the diagram position after White's 11th move, Black plays what Nakamura calls "a strong new move" in 11...c5!?, which leads to a complicated game with chances for both sides, though Nakamura plays it much better and soon obtains a winning position before crowning it with a beautiful queen sacrifice. However, another interesting fact is that in the game that Black "improved" over, Renet-Bronstein, Black achieved the better position as well, and only lost on move 26, probably on time, in a clearly better position. Nakamura's game annotations, however, just quoted the game without making any comment on it...

Anglo Grünfeld

This topic has been the arena for much development in 2007, and in this update we will see another refinement. In the game Jakovenko - Vachier Lagrave, White chose the 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Qa4+ variation, and played a interesting novelty over Vachier Lagrave's game against Bu Xiangzhi, which was covered in our February 2007 update.

The novelty was 11 Bb5!? here, and then in response to Black's 11...Nd5, Jakovenko played the strong 12 Bg3! followed by Rc1, taking firm control of the position. Although White obtained a large advantage out of the opening, he still managed to throw it away, though, and had to play accurately to secure the draw in the endgame.

Nimzo English

Topalov's second Ivan Cheparinov has become quite a force of his own. In the recent World Cup he was only ousted by Magnus Carlsen in the fifth round (the Quarterfinals). In Cheparinov - Drasko, he plays one of the minor lines in the Nimzo-English, 7 e3!?:

Although the chances remained even until after move 20, he still managed to win a short game. In the notes I have also discussed Black's numerous alternatives on move 7.

King's English

From the recent Tal Memorial in Moscow, the game Kamsky - Gelfand featured a relatively rare variation, and this is the position after White's 7th move:

Here Gelfand chose 7...d5, which has been played with success on some occasions before, but after White's novelty on move 9, it looks like only White can be better. In the annotations to the game, I have discussed Black's 7th move alternatives in detail, and in particular 7...c5!? appears to cause White headaches.

Symmetrical English: Hedgehog

The Hedgehog is played so often at top level that without too much difficulty I could write updates with 8-10 relevant new games each month. But that would hardly be interesting to anyone except a select few. Nevertheless we still need to look at it every now and again. This month's featured game is Tkachiev - Lie where White played a rare 10th move, 10 Be3, but only to transpose into a more popular line with his 12th move. According to Wahls in ChessBase Magazine, Black shouldn't have too many problems equalizing in this particular line, but in fact it may be slightly more difficult than that. In our main game, Tkachiev introduced the interesting 14 Qe3!? threatening Nd5, which Lie didn't find an adequate response to and lost without much resistance. In addition, I have examined Black's 13th move alternatives as well as White's other options on move 14.

Symmetrical English: Anti-Benoni

In the first game, Aronian - Sutovsky, we return to a line that we discussed in our June update:

Back then we examined the game Korchnoi-D.Gurevich where Black chose the inferior 10...Bh3?!, but as Aronian demonstrates, even the supposedly better 10...Bxe2 has its problems. Aronian played a novelty as late as move 17, and obtained an enduring advantage, which he converted in convincing fashion through a devastating kingside attack.

The game Carlsen-J.Polgar, from the Blindfold World Cup that recently took place in Bilbao, featured a fascinating gambit continuation:

Polgar played an imprecise 10th move here, 10...0-0?! (instead of 10...e5!? which I also discuss at length; Black also seems to face some problems in this line), but rather than playing the established 11 Na4, which has been proven to provide White with an advantage, Carlsen played the new, but unconvincing 11 Bg5. Nevertheless, a blunder by Polgar on move 14 provided White with more than enough opportunities to launch a mating attack.

I'll return soon with the December update, Carsten


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