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Whilst looking through the games in my section I couldn't help noticing the lack of historical material, in particular the games of Richard Réti. Réti was one of the main pioneers of flank openings (some would say THE main pioneer) and his games are well worth studying in order to understand the strategy. It also seems that the world's top players from Réti's day played the Black side of this opening in the way that many club players would do in this day and age.

Download PGN of October '09 Flank Openings games

Réti Opening

So now to the games:

In Réti - Rubinstein Black's 4...d4 is not a move that many modern players would try, but at the time this game was played Benoni type positions were thought to confer a huge advantage on the player taking the space:

After White undermines Black's pawns he sets up a massive pawn centre and this turns out to be Black's undoing.

Réti - Capablanca from New York 1924 is a famous game in which Réti put his opening on the map. I quite like this method of play against Black's King's Indian style set-up and have often played something similar in my own games, 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.b4:

White takes space on the queenside and this often leads to an undermining of any centre Black tries to set up.

In Réti - Edward Lasker Black's 5...Ne4 makes little sense before White has played d2-d4 as the knight gets driven away with d2-d3:

But this is typical of the way people played against Flank Openings when they first started being played in strong tournaments. Players were used to 'doing something' so just did it anyway.

Besides playing 1.Nf3, Réti adopted both the English Opening and 1.g3 as White. Here in Game 4 we see him venturing the latter move against no less a player than Alexander Alekhine.

Réti - Capablanca, Moscow 1925 was played a year after Capablanca's stunning defeat by Réti in the New York 1924 tournament. This time he plays a set-up that would become recognised as one of the most solid and reliable defences to the Réti.

Starting out as an English Opening, Réti - Gruenfeld soon transposes into a main line of the Réti. Black seemed to be doing OK up to move 22 when he finally succumbed to White's ongoing pressure.

In Réti - Vidmar Black's 5...Nbd7 is generally viewed as a more reliable line these days. Vidmar's 5...Bd7 aims to put the bishop on c6 from where it will neutralise the one on g2:

But the problem is that it blocks Black's c-pawn. This makes it difficult for Black to challenge White's centre.

Finally the game Réti - Boljubow was a bit of a tragedy from Réti's point of view. After obtaining an excellent position from the opening and even winning a pawn, he lets slip what should have been a really excellent endgame.

That's it for this time, see you next month, Nigel


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