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One thing that has struck me in reviewing recent games is the number of aggressive former 1.e4 players who have turned to using Flank Openings. In particular I was amazed to see Nigel Short adopting both the English Opening and 1.b3 in his games. A sign that he is tired of studying sharp theory or does he see greater returns in using his experience?

Download PGN of August '11 Flank Openings games

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Symmetrical - Botvinnik Variation [A36-37]

The two Short - Jones encounters in the English were both ostensibly in the Symmetrical Variation though their game from the Commonwealth Championships (Short - Jones) started with an Anti-King's Indian move order (5.e4) before transposing into a Botvinnik line. Short seemed to be doing well but I didn't like his 18.f4:

It was better to wait with 18.Nc1, in the game he had a fortunate escape in the end.

Their second game, from the British Championships, saw them take the opposite sides of this Botvinnik formation and Jones' lack of experience with this kind of position started to tell in this standard type of position:

when he played 12...cxb4.

King's English: Four Knights 4...Nd4 [A29]

This 4...Nd4 line has gained a solid but rather dull reputation so it was interesting to see David Howell liven things up with the suggestion of 9.g4!? against Steven Gordon (Howell - Gordon):

However, Black seemed to be doing just fine until he imploded with 20...d5?! followed by 22...Rxf3. It looks like he must have missed something.

Nimzo English [A17]

This line also featured some g2-g4 mayhem with Simon Williams reaching it via transposition against V Jones (1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 Bb4 3.Qb3 c5 4.Nf3 Nf6) and then uncorking 5.g4!?:

According to my database this is 'new' in this particular position, see Williams - Jones.

Savchenko - Goganov featured the more standard 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4 4.g4!? with Black curiously following a previous Savchenko game and then diverting from it with a series of mistakes. I'm not quite sure what happened here but I suspect it might have been some preparation that went wrong.

Réti Opening 2 b3 [A06]

There's some history of Englishmen playing queenside fianchettos, for example 1...b6 is often called 'Owen's Defence'. As for 1.b3 it was played quite a lot by Raymond Keene.

Nigel Short and Simon Williams have recently picked up the baton with Short using it to throw the well prepared Peter Wells on his own resources in Short - Wells, quickly reaching a reversed Queen's Indian:

Wells' position was OK but he seemed to overreact to having an isolated d-pawn.

Larsen's Opening 1.b3 [A01]

Williams' two games against David Ledger (Williams - Ledger) and Mista (Williams - Mista) show that one should probably use suprise weapons like 1.b3 with care. Ledger was evidently making it up as he went along whilst Mista seemed very well prepared. Williams had a lucky escape in fact.

That's all for this month! Nigel Davies

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