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Hi everyone!

What's with those SuperGMs? Do they really think that the Petroff is more interesting than the English or Réti?? Some day, I guess.

Download PGN of October '05 Flank Openings games


The Reti Opening

In Pogorelov - Baron Rodriguez, La Pobla de Lillet 2005, White reaches a more-or-less ideal piece placement for this Reti Variation:

Then, almost certainly in time trouble, he misses a number of direct wins (each requiring immediate resignation by Black), after which the game slips away.

English 1...e5

One of the very main positions of the Closed English arose in Adianto - Sorbe, Kuala Lumpur 2005:

Strange to say, Sorbe's next move, the natural 9...a5, probably isn't best. To see why, see the game itself.

The position up to move 11 in Beckhuis - Sulskis, Vienna 2005 has been seen before and provided mostly yawns. Beckhuis tries 11.e5!?:

White simply stakes out territory and hopes to disrupt Black's development.

There is also a look at a rare line from Tony Kosten's book in my October e-mailbag.

English Symmetrical 1...c5

We simply have to begin this section with Vul - Van Opheusden, Hoogeveen (Essent Open) 2005. I found this game at the last minute, hunting around the latest TWIC. Maybe someone knows about it, but in this old and exhaustively analysed variation I've never seen Vul's 9th move! It looks both fascinating and consequential. Is 5.e4 causing even more trouble for Black?

White just threw his d-pawn into the mix by 9.d4!?. Improbable, but take a look.

Osborne - Cox, Coulsdon 2005 arrives at a standard Hedgehog position but with an early ...a6 replacing ..Be7. They used to play this way all the time but it's not seen as much now.

Perhaps Cox's 10.Ng5! is one reason - this works better without having used a tempo on Rd1. This sequence makes ...a6 looks suspicious. After White plays a little inaccurately both sides mix it up.

Banikas - Aroshidze, Kavala 2005 reached the following well-known position of the Hedgehog:

Here Black played 13...h5!? with the simple idea of holding up White's expansion via g4. Black also has the immediate idea of ...Ng4, and perhaps in some cases ...h4, although that would have to be perfectly timed. White tries a standard sacrifice that gives him enough but no more for the piece. Playing for e5 instead was probably the critical test.

Hernando Rodrigo-M Marin, Castelldefels 2005 demonstrates one of White's biggest decisions in the anti-Benoni Symmetrical Variations when Black plays an early ...Qc7 (there are several such). He either has to play passively to defend his c-pawn or he can sacrifice it. Normally Black has to accept or have a positional disadvantage.

Here Black indeed played 7...Qxc4. This apparently risky pawn grab has proven itself in general practice. Black's solid centre seems to give him just enough protection against White's piece play.

In the main-line Symmetrical English with 1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 e6 6.g3 Qb6, Nisipeanu - Halay, Castelldefels 2005 demonstrates how powerful White's setup with Nb3 and Bg2 can be if Black plays inaccurately. Objectively the line chosen by Black may not lose, but it is torture for him and Nisipeanu slaughters his lower-rated player without breaking a sweat.

White played 10.c5! Qb4 11.bxc3 Qxc3 12.Bf4 and it's not surprising that Black couldn't defend in practice.

In Harikrishna - Mamedyarov, Laussane 2005, one of the world's up-and-coming stars meets another. Black didn't seem to understand the opening and was in big trouble until White tried for too much too soon. In the end, Mamedyarov played inaccurately and was suddenly dead lost.

After 6...g6?, Harikrishna played 7.Ndb5! Bg7 8.Bf4 (8.Bg5! was also strong) 8...d6 9.c5!.


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

Till next month, John