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In their latest monthly survey of Opening Trends, Chess Magazine lists the Réti as the single opening most frequently played by IMs and GMs. So this month we look at the latest wrinkles in the Réti, with five of the games entering key lines after 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3.

Download PGN of April ’17 Flank Openings games

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Réti Opening, Capablanca’s System 2...Bg4 3 Bg2 c6 [A07]

In Capablanca’s system after 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 Bg4 3 Bg2 c6, White has to choose broadly between queenside pressure with an early c2-c4 or a 'King's Indian Attack' style plan involving d2-d3 and e2-e4. In Ding Liren - Yu Yangyi, we look at the latter plan of playing for e2-e4, which has been spearheaded by Kramnik in recent years. After 4 0-0 Nd7 5 h3, Black also has some key strategic choices to make. In this game, Yu Yangyi chose to exchange bishop for knight and play an early ...e7-e5. The following position was reached after White’s 11th move:

With 13 Rd1, a well prepared Ding Liren varied from earlier games and proceeded to gradually outplay his opponent . He won with a fine positional display that was crowned by a sacrificial attack - this game deserves close study!

Réti Opening, Lasker’s System [A07]

Li Chao - Mareco, S entered Lasker’s system through the move order 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 g3 d5 3 Bg2 c6 4 0-0 Bf5. In this game, Li Chao played a setup involving the double fianchetto coupled with an e2-e4 thrust, which he had played successfully in the past. Following 5 d3 e6 6 Nbd2 h6 7 b3 Be7 8 Bb2 0-0 9 Qe1, Black went for counterattacking chances on the queenside with 9...a5 10 a3 Bh7 11 e4 c5:

This is a combative choice, leading to double-edged positions where the players are attacking on opposite wings.

Réti Opening 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 g6 [A09]

In Movsesian, S - Smerdon, D we look at the latest developments in the fashionable line 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 g6. After 3 Bg2 Bg7 4 c4 dxc4, the jury is still out on whether it is better to go after the c4-pawn with the queen or knight. In this game Movsesian chose 5 Qa4+ and later had a surprise in store with the new move 8 h4!?:

The game soon escalated into a confrontation on the kingside, where the piece sacrifice 14 Nxg5!? was the logical continuation of White’s play. Although White won, it remains to be seen whether this was a one-game weapon or the start of a new trend.

Réti Opening, Gurevich's Anti-Slav System 3 e3 [A11]

The line arising from 1 c4 c6 2 Nf3 d5 3 e3 Nf6 4 Nc3 e6 5 b3 Nbd7 6 Bb2 Bd6 7 Qc2 is a popular anti-Slav setup which we have looked at a number of times on this site. It can be a good choice against Semi-Slav players, since it sets Black some non-standard problems:

In Ramirez, A - Ali Marandi, C, Black essayed 7...a6!?, aiming for an early ...e6-e5 without allowing a subsequent Nc3-b5 jump. Ramirez picked up the gauntlet with 8 Rg1 e5 9 g4 e4 10 g5 and after a couple of missteps from his opponent, soon had an overwhelming position. The conversion took a while though, culminating in Black’s resignation after White finally castled on move 46!

Réti Opening, Reversed Benoni [A13]

Another important response to the Réti is the reversed Benoni structure which we look at in this and the next game. Fridman, D - Grabarczyk, M opened with 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 e6 3 g3 Nf6 4 Bg2 and now Black chose the immediate 4...d4 constructing the reverse Benoni without further ado.

From the above diagram, after 8...Be7 9 Re1 0-0 10 Na3 Nd7 White soon achieved a good position with typical Benoni style ideas. Black needs to carefully look at some of the options presented in the notes in order to achieve a fully playable game.

Réti Double Fianchetto vs Reversed Benoni [A14]

In the Réti Double-Fianchetto system with 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 e6 4 0-0 Be7 5 b3 0-0 6 Bb2 c5 7 c4 Nc6 8 e3 the reversed Benoni setup with 8...d4 is an ambitious answer. White’s dark-squared bishop is currently blocked in on the b2-square, and a key factor in this variation is whether this piece can find useful work. In Robson, R - So, W, the game continued 9 exd4 cxd4 10 Re1 Re8 11 d3 Bc5:

Here White chose 12 Ba3 (varying from the 12 Ne5 of the 2016 game Jones-Adams). Both sides missed chances in the early middlegame before Black achieved a small but persistent advantage.

Nimzo-English 4 g4 [A17]

The enterprising line 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 g4!? was all the rage in the early 2000s, but has faded from popularity in recent years. It is high time to catch up with the latest developments, which are covered in the game Jarmula, L - Socko, B.

After 4...h6 5 Rg1 b6 6 Qc2 Bb7 7 a3, Black mixed things up with the near-novelty 7...Bxf3. Socko appeared to benefit from the element of surprise in this game, which soon entered very unusual territory.

Symmetrical English, 3 g3 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Bg2 e6 [A34]

In the variation 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 c5 3 g3 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Bg2 the move 5...e6?! has been played almost 150 times (in my database), by players ranked from Kramnik on down. After 6 Nxd5 exd5 7 Qb3, however, White wins a pawn on the spot!

I thought this was just a footnote in chess theory, but the game Ramirez, A - Chirila, I shows that perhaps Black has some compensation for the pawn after all. Black achieved quick development and pressure on White’s central pawns which proved sufficient to eventually equalize.

I hope you enjoy this Update!

Until next month, David.

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