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First my apologies for this long-awaited and much delayed update. This month's update includes a few games from the World Championship tournament in Mexico where a couple of very unusual lines were tested. Also the Monarch Insurance tournament in Port Erin saw a few variations that we haven't discussed for a while. But without further ado, let's get down to business.

Download PGN of October '07 Flank Openings games

Sokolsky/Orangutan Opening

The game, Bauer - Isik has been chosen for a couple of reasons. Primarily because it is very rare that we discuss this move and seeing a strong grandmaster like Bauer playing it is somewhat out of the ordinary, even if Bauer has played it several times before, although the opponent in this game is admittedly rather weak. Another reason for choosing this game is that Black employs a variation against that I have often seen recommended as a weapon against the Sokolsky.

After 1 b4, Black plays 1...c6 to answer 2 Bb2 with 2...Qb6. While this position still is playable, Bauer chooses correctly by playing 2 e3 and after 2...Qb6 3 a3 a5, he goes for 4 b5!:

which is the best remedy against Black's opening idea. After this, it is White who takes control over the game, which, although not perfectly played by either player, contains a lot of interesting elements.

I have also noted that Everyman Chess has scheduled a book, Play 1 b4! to be published next year. This, I believe, is the first book on this opening by a major publisher in many, many years. Let's hope it's good!

English Defence

The variation of the English Defence in this particular game, Troyke - Krasenkow, struck me as quite interesting, although it may not be White's most critical line, nor for that matter Black's best response, but the game developed in a very novel manner. After five moves the following position arose:

, and this was merely the beginning to a fascinating slug fest, where White went astray shortly before move 20 and was never really allowed back in the game.

Anglo Grünfeld

In our first example, Batchuluun - Li Chao, White chooses a line with a drawish reputation, but the strong young Chinese player responds inaccurately and makes a rather common, but instructive mistake by playing 7...Bg7?!, that allows White a small plus:

This isn't sufficient to lose the game on its own, but White nurses the advantage carefully and soon Black commits further mistakes and White collects the full point. A very instructive game on several levels.

In Gelfand - Svidler, White didn't go for the 4 Qa4+ which has been very popular this year, but instead went for 4 cxd5 Nxd5 and only then 5 Qa4+, which has a much larger body of theory behind it. In this position, on move 10, Gelfand played a new move, 10 e4:

but this fails to impress. In the game Svidler answered accurately and in my opinion soon reached a comfortable position that could have allowed him to play for more.

Nimzo English

In Zhou Jianchao-Bagheri, Black opted for the interesting 4...d6!?, which has been a favourite of French-Russian Grandmaster Andrei Sokolov, who some may remember from his candidates final match against Karpov in 1987:

Sokolov has played it several times with very decent results. The idea is to play an early ...e6-e5 and take the game out of the traditional, and more popular lines of this variation. Our main game follows a previous game of Zhou Jianchao's (against Sokolov, indeed) up to White's 13th move, where Black plays an improvement in 13...N8h7!?, which appears to offer Black fully adequate play. However, Black doesn't follow up well, and soon lands in trouble anyway.

King's English: 2...Bb4

This line remains quite popular because of its double-edged nature that tends to draw White away from the more comfortable solid lines of the Four Knights or Botvinnik Variation. In this game White opts for the only real attempt at an advantage, in my opinion: 3 Nd5, and Black then responds with the solid, and probably best, 3...Be7. Nevertheless, the game Iordachescu - Kritz sharpens dramatically when White opts for 7 c5!?:

This move doesn't have the best reputation, mainly based on an almost 15 year old game, Miles-Mainka, where White gave up a piece in the opening and never had anywhere near adequate compensation. With his 11th move, however, White improves over Miles's play with 11 f3, and although things are still very unclear, he soon obtains an advantage which is converted in convincing fashion.

King's English: Four Knights

We had a couple of examples with the English Four Knights at the recent World Championship tournament in Mexico, in both cases White opted for an unusual line and in both cases he came well out of the opening.

In the first example, Morozevich - Grischuk, White played something that resembled a Boleslavsky Variation of the Classical Sicilian, but with colours reversed. I find it hard to believe that Black should have any concerns after this, especially after Morozevich allowed Black to play ...Bc8-g4xf3 and put a knight on d4:

However, as so often in Morozovich's games, he bends conventional wisdom and succeeds surprisingly often. The game is well worth studying, and the opening idea can very well be used as a surprise weapon, though I would hardly recommend it as a main stay in your repertoire.

The 4...Bc5 line against the Four Knights with 4 g3 has long been considered one of Black's better choices. In our main game, Aronian - Svidler, White chooses 5 Nxe5, which is considered an attempt at punishing Black. This variation is very complicated and not particularly easy to understand. White gains the pair of bishops while accepting a weakening of his king's position. The position after Black's 7th move is quite essential to this line:

In our main game the players followed a path laid out by the game Garcia Palermo-Dzindzichashvili, Buenos Aires OL 1978, where White obtained a better game, but didn't manage to win. Svidler diverged on move 14 with 14...Rb8, although I will not exactly call it an improvement since White has the upper hand after this move right up until Black uncorked his amazing 25th move that more or less saved the game for him, even if White could have played better on move 26.

See you soon, Carsten


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