ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
My own contribution this month is a little self-serving - one game I played myself and wanted to analyse to see what I'd done right/wrong, and another line that preoccupied me when I was preparing for this same opponent. This is all part of the everyday creative process for a serious chessplayer: we must analyse our own games, and in particular the openings, and also think about how we would play the opening/middlegame in games that might arise in the future.
I am helped this month by Milos Pavlovic, who has analysed 4 of the games - I'm always interested to see what lines interest other GMs, and any ideas they have.

Download PGN of April '15 Flank Openings games

>> Previous Update >>

Larsen's Opening 1 b3, 2...g6 3 Bxf6 [A01]

The opening of Rapport - Naiditsch struck me as odd the second I saw it, as following 1 b3 Nf6 2 Bb2 g6 3 Bxf6 exf6 4 c4 Bg7 5 Nc3 f5 6 Rc1 Black played the somewhat surprising novelty 6...c5!?, conceding control of d5 for the rest of the game:

At first glance this looks horrible. On the further 7 g3 O-O 8 Bg2 Nc6 the position is very similar to the famous Karpov-Browne game, from San Antonio 1972 (in the Symmetrical English), and indeed it looks like White can transpose directly. However, in this case Black had a clever trick prepared, what was it?

Réti Opening 2...d4 3 g3 g6 [A09]

After the fairly standard sequence 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 g3 d5 3 Bg2 g6 4 c4 d4 5 O-O Bg7 6 d3 O-O 7 b4, Black's best move is probably 7...Re8, preparing ...e5 to defend d4:

Indeed, Black scores very well from this position. In Malakhov - Mamedyarov it seemed to me that Black played in a powerful, thematic way and won in impressive style. However, the computer is not so easily impressed and finds a weird resource for White, 'out-of-the-blue', that seems to force a draw!

Réti Opening 4...Be7 classical mainline 7 cxd5 Nxd5 8 d4 [A14]

After analysing the Kramnik-Nakamura game last month, I couldn't resist playing the 7 cxd5 line myself when presented with the chance, and my opponent played 10...Bd7, which, as I mentioned last month, is the 2nd most popular move here, but scores best:

I won very quickly, and convincingly, but in fact my eleventh move is inaccurate, as is my opponent's reply. See what we should have played in my analysis of Kosten - Bricard.

This variation has a certain surprise value, even if intrinsically it is nothing special: my opponent mentioned after the game that he had played this classical Réti a hundred times as White in the past, and yet had never seen this particular line before!

Mikenas Attack 3...d5 4 cxd5 exd5 5 e5 [A18]

There is no let-up in the popularity of the Mikenas Attack, and Milos contributes two important recent games:

Firstly, Jones - Eckersley Waites, where after 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e6 3 e4 d5 4 cxd5 exd5 5 e5 Ne4 6 d4 Black played the unusual 6...Nc6, and then 7 Bb5 Bb4 8 Nge2 Bg4!?:

It seemed like Gawain played the strongest moves now, and it appeared as though he had a consequent advantage, but the position was deceptive, for in reality Black could have forced a draw.

Was this a case of very clever preparation from Black, or OTB inspiration?

Mikenas Attack 3...d5 4 e5, 8...Nc6 [A18]

Krush - Harika allows us to take another hard look at the 3 e4 d5 4 e5 d4 5 exf6 dxc3 6 bxc3 Qxf6 7 d4 e5 8 Nf3 Nc6 mainline, which continues 9 Bg5 Qg6 10 d5 Nb8 11 h4 h6 12 h5 Qd6 13 Be3 Nd7:

White has tried some new ideas here, but nothing that changes the current assessment: Black is at least equal!

King's English/Dutch ...e5 and ...f5 [A21]

The next game was born out of my preparation for the Bricard game, above. In fact, I was expecting him to play the Dutch against my English Opening, and I was toying with the idea of answering 1 c4 f5 2 g3 Nf6 with 3 Nf3 to hinder ...e5. Now it occurred to me that a Classical Dutch player might then continue 3...d6 to play ...e5 anyway, which, after some natural moves, brings us to the following position:

The best move here is certainly 7 d4, and after the reply 7...e4 White has the choice of going to g5 or e1. I have given my thoughts on this in the game Marin - Kraus, from just over a month ago.

3...Bc5 and 4...a6 [A25]

After 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 g3 Bc5 4 Bg2 a6 5 e3 d6 6 Nge2 the retreat 6...Ba7 is a flexible, modern approach. Black avoids being hit by d4 and keeps his kingside development options open, the g8-knight can go to f6 or e7, and he might want to play ...f5 or ...h5 first:

In Hansen,C-Rasmussen White decided to expand on the queenside with 7 Rb1, to which Black responded 7...h5!?, intending ...h4 with sharp play. Clearly White should be careful not to castle too soon, and must also be wary of playing d4 too early, as Black will reply ...Nge7-f5, but White's best plan hasn't clearly emerged yet.

Pure Symmetrical 5 d3, 6 Bf4 [A36]

Finally, Eljanov - Hansen started 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 c5 3 g3 g6 4 Bg2 Bg7 5 d3 Nc6 6 Bf4 d6 7 Qc1:

Which is very unusual. White intends to exchange dark-squared bishops with Bh6, but his real goal is to avoid theory and just 'play chess'.

Till next time, Tony.

>> Previous Update >>

To contact the author please go to the Flank Openings Forum, or subscribers can write directly to