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Flank openings continue to retain their popularity. Why is this? Personally when I'm Black, I find it difficult to deal with a slow build-up, a positional manoeuvring game, as sharp tactical fights are much more my cup of tea. When faced with openings like the English, there is a danger you will suffer complete strategic strangulation. I don't have a very good record against such openings, and I think there's a good reason for this - my strategic skills aren't as well developed as they should be!
This month's games show that the Flank Openings continue to be in a healthy state, from both sides.

Download PGN of April '13 Flank Openings games

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Réti - 2 b3 [A05]

In Erdos, V - Khenkin, I White demonstrated the effectiveness of the strategic idea of exchanging knight for bishop- with 6.Bxf6!:

White exploited the fact that Black has already played ..c5- thus weakening his control over the d5 square. This idea was eerily similar to an old game of Karpov's.

English Defence [A10]

Krasenkow, M - Rozentalis, E Showed how useful it can be to get White out of his comfort zone as quickly as possible - after 7...f5!:

Black had already taken over the initiative, something he was never to relinquish- and this game ended up being one of the best creative achievements I've seen in a long time. All in all, this 2...b6 stuff is an excellent practical way of meeting the English.

Romanishin Gambit 4 e3 [A13]

Giri, A - Bartel, M saw how effectively top players like Giri can deal with irregular openings - his 10.Bxf6!:

was a particularly impressive decision, rather reminiscent of the Erdos-Khenkin game.

Pseudo-Grünfeld 5 Qa4+ [A16]

In Reinderman, D - Greenfeld, A Black faced one of those dreaded Anti-Grünfeld systems, and did not find an adequate response. After 10.Ne5!:

I really think that Black should avoid giving up the g7 bishop, even if a player of the calibre of Kamsky has been happy to defend Black's position.

Reversed Dragon 6 e3 [A22]

We start this section with the game Hera, I - Ribli, Z where Black showed a new way to fight against White's increasingly popular 6 e3 set up with 7...g6!?:

Although there seems little wrong with the alternatives 7...Bf5 or 7...Bd6 anyway.

Three Knights 4...Bb4 [A25]

The game Rustemov, A - Mchedlishvili, M was exactly what I was talking about when I said I didn't like facing the English - the slow build-up can be very difficult to deal with. After 16.d4!:

White's position rather resembled a coiled spring.

Four Knights 4 g3 g6 [A29]

Jones, G - Swiercz, D was a good demonstration that Black's chances are looking very healthy in this particular line. The sacrifice 13...Rxe3! looked straight out of the Petrosian handbook:

Gawain was unable to solve all the practical problems this time.

Symmetrical with ...d5 [A34]

The game Yevseev, D - Goganov, A saw White try the interesting pawn sac 9.d4!?:

which has already claimed a few scalps. Black normally ends up bagging a pawn or two, but in the meantime White builds up a strong initiative - there are strong similarities between this line and the Rb1 Grünfeld.

The position after 14...Rc3?:

is well worth recalling, as Black's play up to this point had seemed very natural, and I doubt this will be the last time Black loses in this way.

Pure Symmetrical 5 d3 [A36]

Bauer, C - Sebenik, M saw White choose an interesting way of playing with 6.Qd2, an idea that I recommend Black should meet with 6...e6!:

Which practically forces White to give up the advantage of the two bishops with 7.Bxc6, lest Black get a very comfortable set-up with ...Nge7 followed by ...d5.

Till next time, Danny.

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