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At the moment it seems there are so many interesting games and ideas, it can be difficult to choose which ideas to examine closer. Before we throw ourselves on the Olympiad games in next month's update, this month we will cover games from a variety of recent events, including Cap d'Agde, the Russian Championship, the Bundesliga, the European Club Championship in Kallithea and a few more events.

Download PGN of November '08 Flank Openings games

Réti Opening

We start out with a very short game, Bezold - Svidler, which is quite interesting and of some theoretical importance: 1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 Nf6 3.c4 d4 4.d3 e5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.0-0 Be7, and now White played 7 b4 (which is why 6...a5 is normally considered better) 7...Nxb4 8 Nxe5 0-0. Instead of the normal 9 a3 Na6, White decided to leave Black's knight on b4 for now and tried 9 Bb2 to which Black answered with 9...Qd6:

which is a new idea, that appears to equalize. Nevertheless, Black soon made a few inaccuracies and when the players agreed on a draw, White was clearly better.


In this section, the majority of the games are devoted to the Pseudo-Grünfeld, which has been incredibly popular for some time. In both Carlsen - Svidler and Aronian - Kamsky, we examine a line which thus far had escaped our attention on this site, 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Qa4+ Bd7 6 Qh4 Nxc3, and now instead of the usual 7 dxc3, both games saw White play the, not entirely illogical, 7 bxc3:

Then, after 7...Bg7, White in both cases opted for 8 Rb1. In the notes to the Carlsen-Svidler game I have included several other very recent games with this line.

In Bu Xiangzhi-Lahno White played the far more fashionable 6 Qb3, and after 6...Nb6 7 d4 Be6 (The main alternative 7...Bg7, which for example was seen in the game Bu Xiangzhi-Vachier Lagrave in the Olympiad in Dresden, is analyzed at length in the notes to the game) 8 Qc2 Bg7 9 e4 c6 10 Bf4 (10 Be3 is considered a Grünfeld Indian) 10...0-0, and now White improved over an old game from 1945 with 11 Qd2!:

and with an accurate follow-up he gained a solid advantage. In the notes to the game, I exclusively referenced other games from 2008, including several very recent ones.

Last year, Kramnik-Ivanchuk introduced a new concept for Black in the Anglo-Indian (Nimzo-English) by 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.a3 Bxc3 6.Qxc3 d6 7.b4 a5 8.Bb2 axb4 9.axb4 Rxa1+ 10.Bxa1 e5 11.g3 b5!:

After 12.cxb5 Bd7, Kramnik got himself in trouble with 13 e3 Qc8 14 Be2 Qb7, so in Ftacnik - Stocek White improved with 13.d4!?, though Black proved that he has an excellent position after 13...e4 14 Nd2 Bxb5 15 d5 e3!, anyway.

King's English

We haven't looked at the Karpov-Zaitsev gambit, 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 Bb4 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 e4 7.Ng5 Bxc3 8.bxc3 Re8 9.f3 e3!?, in a while:

In Conquest - Butnorius we will look at some of the latest developments with several other recent games included in the notes. It appears that either 10 dxe3 Qe7 or 10...h6 11 Nh3 Ne5 are Black's best options. In our main game, White played well to reach a winning position, only to throw everything away and in the end he even lost.

Symmetrical English

Despite being a wizard on the ICC for years, Nakamura nevertheless surprised the majority of us when he won the rapid play tournament in Cap D'Agde. From that tournament we will take a look at the game Nakamura - Carlsen, where after 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.g3 b6 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.0-0 e6 6.Nc3 Be7 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 d6 9.b3 Nbd7 White went for 10 Nb5, which is considered more or less harmless. Instead of 10...Nc5, which has been examined in an earlier update, Carlsen played 10...d5 and equalised effortlessly, though White needs to look closer at the alternative given in the note to move 12. The game concluded with a series of blunders, but that's what sometimes happens when you analyze rapid play games.

In another game from the same tournament Carlsen was involved in another interesting encounter, Carlsen - Skripchenko, where he tested a line we looked at in our August update, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 a6 6.g3 Qc7 7.Bg2 Qxc4 8.0-0 Nc6 9.Nb3 d5 10 Bf4 Be7, and now instead of 11 a3, as played by Agrest, Carlsen went for 11 e4 dxe4 12 Re1:

(when 12 a3 would have transposed to the Agrest game). The game itself was an entertaining mess with numerous mistakes of all sizes by both players, but in the notes I have pointed to a possible improvement on move 16, which I think will allow White to claim an advantage from the opening. In the notes I have also analysed a couple of recent games where Black played 10...Be7.

A decidedly rare variation was explored in Tomashevsky - Alekseev from the Russian Championship, 1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.g3 Qb6 6 Nb5 Ne5 7 Bf4, and now, instead of 7...a6 which is given in ECO, Black went for the more solid 7...d6 to which White responded with the novelty 8 Nd2:

This appears to be an improvement over existing theory, but clearly this line needs more tests before a firm evaluation can be given.

In Berkes - Gharamian, from the German Bundesliga, we will look at a minor line in the Pure Symmetrical, 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.0-0 0-0 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 d6 10.Qd3 Rb8, and now after 11 Bf4 Qa5 12.Rac1 Be6 13.b3 a6, White played the new 14.Rc2!?:

gaining a slight advantage.

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