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Summer is here, I'm on holiday ... and the rain is tipping down! Time to work on the August Flank update, then, which I've devoted to looking at more lines that interest me! Don't miss another unusual effort from the incredible Richard Rapport.

Download PGN of August '14 Flank Openings games

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Mikenas Attack 3...d5, 7 Nf3 e5 8 Bd3 endgame [A18]

We've been looking at the mainline 3...d5 Mikenas Attack quite a lot recently, focussing on 8 d4 Nc6, and although we haven't seen the last word on this move, by any means, my impression is that Black might be OK. Inevitably white players will start returning to the 8 Bd3 line again, and in Kuljasevic - Grigorov we examine developments in the critical endgame, after 8...Bd6 9 O-O Na6 10 Bc2 Bg4 11 d4 Bxf3 12 Qxf3 Qxf3 13 gxf3:

White's bishops offer him a small plus, but Black is solid, his defensive plan is well worked out, and White's weakened pawn structure is a problem.

Mikenas Attack 3...e5 [A18]

3...e5 is much less common, but not so bad. Following 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 d4 exd4 6 Nxd4 Bb4 7 Nxc6 bxc6 we've reached a Scotch Four Knights position, except that White has gained the c2-c4 move for free:

Is this useful? Look at the notes to Mastrovasilis - Papaioannou, where Black quickly gains a completely winning position, but White doesn't give up, manages to equalise ... and then win!

Reversed Grand Prix Attack [A25]

Alex looked at this Reversed Grand Prix Attack position in Almasi-Vallejo Pons, a few months ago:

Goganov - Khismatullin continues with the more common 8 0-0 0-0 9 Rb1 Qe8 instead, which is generally thought to be quite good for White (with colours reversed). Does the extra move make any difference? Not much, in my opinion, and I would definitely try to avoid this as White myself (although one of my efforts is included in the notes).

King's English 2 g3, 4...Bc5 5 e3 d6 [A25]

We've looked at 5 d3 and Nf3, and also my favourite 5 a3 quite a bit over the years, but not so much at 5 e3:

This move is by far the most popular here, even though it is not considered very accurate because of the reply 5...d5. However, in Macieja - Pavlidis Black prefers 5...d6, and gets horribly crushed.

If Black had to play 5...d6 I would play 5 e3 every time, I wonder what Maiceja intended against 5...d5?

Botvinnik System 8...Nd7 [A26]

In Kokarev - Levin I have a look at my favourite Botvinnik System, this time against 8...Nd7, where Black plans to bring his knight to c5, and then possibly to e6, to control d4:

I've always scored well in such positions as we often reach situations with a dynamic tension in the centre (e4 and f4 against e5 and f5) and a difficult choice of which exchange to make, or whether it's better to keep the tension, and this favours the player who has the most experience of the key themes.

Symmetrical English Four Knights 4 e3 g6, 8...e6 [A35]

The line 1 c4 c5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 e3 g6 5 d4 cxd4 6 exd4 d5 7 cxd5 Nxd5 8 Qb3 started becoming quite popular for Black a few years ago:

Mastrovasilis - Banikas features 8...e6 "A reliable move that exploded in popularity in 2012." according to John Bartholomew. Later White tried a new idea, but Black simply sacrificed a pawn for excellent compensation and a very comfortable draw.

Symmetric 3 d3, 4 g4!? [A35]

The next game features the Symmetrical English according to Richard Rapport! Following 1 c4 c5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 d3 g6 4 g4 d6 5 h3 Bg7 6 Bg2 we reach a position first played by the maverick Mike Basman (from 1 h3):

White has a clear plan to capture on c6, then play g5 and Ne4 when the knight will be difficult to dislodge - the g-pawn impedes ...f5, and ... d5 will lose the c-pawn. In the game Rapport - Dezelin White achieved a winning position after only 14 moves. I will be adding this line to my repertoire!

Pure Symmetrical - 5 Nf3 e6 6 e3 [A37]

Finally, Zhou - Wei features the Pure Symmetrical with 5 Nf3 e6:

I've always considered this very pleasant for Black, and in this game White aims for symmetry with an extra move by playing 6 e3 Nge7 7 d4. However, rather than play the bland 7...cxd4 and ...d5, Black preferred 7...0-0 and 8...b6, when it seems that White is struggling to equalise!!

Till next time, Tony.

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