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Hello and Welcome to the August Update. This will be my last update for the foreseeable future because I am starting a full time job in London in September. is a wonderful resource for chess players and I will now enjoy it as consumer rather than a producer. I cannot claim any particular emotional attachment to subscribers or to Flank Openings, but I wish you a rewarding time together nonetheless!
Rather than start a new thread that I wouldn't be able to complete with sufficient depth, for this month's update I have examined several different lines:

Download PGN of August '09 Flank Openings games

Réti Opening [A09]

Laznicka - Rombaldoni is further confirmation that after 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4! is promising for Black. Moreover, I am fairly confident that after 3.b4 Bg4!, as favoured by Nigel Short, is Black's best response:

Slav without d4 [A11]

As indicated previously, White players are getting tired of trying to gain any advantage in main line Slavs and many are therefore showing renewed interest in move-order issues designed to trick opponents, or sometimes just to play a completely different type of chess, with some extra tension due to the availability of the d4 square for pieces and the latent possibility of d3 and e4. This flexible if slightly evasive strategy can work well, but in the selected games White gets less than nothing in all cases, so I hope these examples serve as a warning. When you feel theoretical wanderlust bubbling up inside you, try to remain objective.

Agrest - Postny is a good example of how the lack of sting in White's set up can lead to Black gradually taking over the initiative. That said, the finish was quite unexpected, and I can't blame White for missing it:


Jaracz - Breder is a shorter example that serves to illustrate that even when White gets what he wants, in this case the bishop pair, Black often gets more than enough to keep himself happy too. This particular example is a reminder to Black players that, even if you are fond of the semi-Slav, the absence of d4 means you don't always have to play ...Nbd7 before ...Bd6 because White has no credible threat of e2-e4 and your knight can sometimes make it to a6 or c6, as it did here:

Navara - Sokolov is a rapid game, but contained quite a few interesting moments. For instance playing ...b5 before ...Bf5 obliges White to put his queen on c1, unless he wants to sacrifice a pawn. However, a few moves later, White could have had a perfectly good position with the simple Rb1. More generally both sides made a lot of mistakes. On an openings site it is always good to remember that playing openings well is only one part of the picture, and rarely the most important one.

Reti Gambit Accepted [A13]

I am not very familiar with these lines, but whenever I am White I am very wary of allowing Black to keep hold of his captured queenside pawn unless I see enduring compensation. Hillarp - Persson-Dreev is a typically dynamic effort from the irrepressible Swede:

Dreev's play looks a bit casual, but you have to admire the vigour with which Tiger finished him off.

In Gourlay - Motwani Black opted for a different approach of giving back the material and trying to pick off the remaining weak pawns:

I quite like the idea and feel Black might have made more of his chances, but the new Scottish champion adequately solved his problems.

Zvagintsev and Krasenkov's 4.g4!? [A17]

Finally, I haven't yet given any attention to 4.g4!? which is no longer a surprise weapon, but still has the power to throw Black players into a bit of a tizzy:

The day before Kjartansson - Panchanathan, Panchanathan crushed my Sicilian Kan in no uncertain terms and won the best game prize for his efforts, but in this game he looked much less comfortable. That said, his young Icelandic opponent made a GM norm at the Scottish, will probably enjoy a swift ascent to the GM title. In fact, White's powerful play in this game made it a close contender for the best game prize too. Perhaps the judges felt that since Panchanathan played in both contending games, he had some sort of best game tie-break! I personally find it hard to believe that Black's best approach is to 'castle into it' with 4...0-0 but it is certainly possible to do so without getting bulldozed by rooks on the g-file, as was the case here:

Nakamura - Sokolov shows that 4.g4 is not all about competing attacks but can also lead to a more positional struggle. It is noteworthy that Nakamura has a reputation for sharp and creative play, but his recent success has as much to do with astute opening choices and excellent technique, and he looks increasingly worthy of a position in the world top ten.

That said, a closer look suggests this game was pretty random and Black was actually clearly winning at one moment.

That's all for me for now. I leave you in the capable hands of Nigel Davies, who will replace me for the September update. Jonathan


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