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This month showcases both tactical slugfests and positional squeezes in a wide range of openings.

Download PGN of August ’19 Flank Openings games

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Réti Opening 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 d4 3 b4 f6 [A09]

In the Réti after 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 d4 3 b4, Black has a wide range of tries, but 3...f6 is the most principled move, going for the full pawn centre. The resulting variation is one of the sharpest lines of the Réti and was featured in the Rapid game Duda, J-K - Grischuk, A.

From the diagram position, 8...Na6 is objectively not the best, but leads to some crazy positions. The players followed the spectacular 2014 game Hillarp Persson-Hector (analyzed here on ChessPublishing of course!) until move 15. Duda won after some wild adventures.

Réti Opening, Reversed Benoni [A13]

This next game in the Reversed Benoni was included in the June 2019 Update, but after reading that Donchenko's 5 d3 c5 6 e4!? was suggested to him by the Leela (Lc0) engine, I decided to do some further analysis:

Here is the updated version of Donchenko, A - Oleksienko, M.

Anti-Grünfeld 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 e5 [A16]

So, W - Mamedyarov, S opened with 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 e5 5 Nxe5, and now with 5...0-0!? Mamedyarov repeated the gambit line played in the seminal Giri-Dubov game analyzed in the June 2019 Update.

From the diagram position, Giri’s 7 d3 is endorsed by engines, but over-the-board, it appears to be hard for White to consolidate. Instead, Wesley So unleashed 7 Bd3!, a strong new move, and one that appears to take most of the fun out of this line for Black. After 7...Nxe4 Black maintains material equality, but White gains a slight edge thanks to the resulting weakened dark squares in Black's kingside structure.

Mikenas Attack 3...d5 4 cxd5, 7 a3 [A18]

One of the most topical lines of the Mikenas occurs after 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e6 3 e4 d5 4 cxd5 exd5 5 e5 Ne4 6 Nf3 Bf5. Now, since 7 d4 can be answered by 7...Bb4, the move 7 d3 is the current fashion, as featured in Wang Hao-Esipenko in last month's Update. Instead, Ponkratov, P - Esipenko, A saw 7 a3!?, a fresh idea that has only been played a couple of times:

White wants to play d2-d4 in one go, while avoiding the annoying ...Bf8-b4. After 7...Be7 8 d4 Nxc3 9 bxc3 White got what he was looking for, and emerged slightly better. Instead Black should leave the knight on the e4-square, and 8...0-0 9.Bd3 c5 (played in another recent game) gives good chances of equalizing.

King’s English, 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Nf3 g6 [A27]

Following 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Nf3 g6 4 d4 exd4 5 Nxd4 Bg7 6 Nxc6, the usual recapture is 6...bxc6, which was analyzed in Smith-Naiditsch from the June Update.

Inarkiev, E - Yu Yangyi diverged from this with the rare 6...dxc6!? going for a queenless middlegame. It seems that the influence of the Berlin endgame has reached the English!

After 7 Qxd8+ Kxd8, the modest move 8 Bd2 gave Black flexibility with his king's position. Yu Yangyi followed up with ...b7-b6 and ...Kd8-c8-b7, and even got the upper hand with counterplay on the queenside. Going back to move 8, 8 Bg5+! Is more disruptive and looks like White’s best chance of squeezing something out of the position.

King’s English, Four Knights 4 e3, 6 bxc3 [A28]

After 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 e3 Bb4 5 Qc2 Bxc3 the recapture 6 bxc3 remains second in popularity to 6 Qxc3, but continues to pop up in high-level games. Black usually goes 6...0-0 and 7...d6 (or the other way around). In Korobov, A - Hammer, J, however, Black saved time by omitting ...d7-d6, playing 6...0-0 7 e4 and now the novelty 7...Nh5!?:

Black goes for a very quick ...f7-f5 break, opening the position before White has had a chance to consolidate. Hammer's idea looks like an interesting way for Black to mix things up. In the game, 10...Nf4?! was an inaccurate follow-up which handed the advantage to White, but I expect future games to explore 10...Re8! instead.

Symmetrical English, Four Knights 6 g3 Qb6 7 Nbd5 [A33]

The important variation starting with 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 c5 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 d4 cxd4 5 Nxd4 e6 6 g3 Qb6 has a good theoretical reputation for Black. White has many sharp alternatives over the next few moves, however, which means that Black has to be ready for a variety of complex lines. Ganguly, S - Wei Yi, for example, continued 7 Ndb5 Ne5 8 Bg2 a6 9 Qa4:

Here the mainline is 9...Rb8, while it turns out that the active, developing move 9...Bc5? is a mistake. Ganguly won a miniature with great preparation and calculation.

Pure Symmetrical, 5 Nf3 e6 6 d4 [A37]

Artemiev, V - Vidit, S started 1 c4 c5 2 g3 g6 3 Bg2 Bg7 4 Nc3 Nc6 5 Nf3 e6 and now Artemiev went for the gambit line 6 d4, which is a well-known attempt to sharpen the game. Black elected not to hold onto the offered pawn and instead went for an IQP position:

Here 11 b3 was slightly unusual, and following 11...Nf5 12 Nxc6 White went for play against the hanging pawns. Black didn’t react optimally, and Artemiev secured a strong grip on the dark squares.

Pure Symmetrical, 5 Nf3 d6 [A37]

Vidit was on the other side of the board (and result) in Vidit, S - Leko, P which opened 1 c4 c5 2 g3 g6 3 Bg2 Bg7 4 Nc3 Nc6 5 Nf3 d6 6 0-0, followed by the copy-cat moves 6...Rb8 7 a3 a6 8.Rb1:

It is a little unusual to combine 5...d6 with the plan of ...Ra8-b8 and ...b7-b5, and in the game it didn’t work out well for Black. After 13....d5 (a second move of the d-pawn), the almost symmetrical position is surprisingly tricky for Black. Vidit used his extra tempi to build up a strong initiative.

I hope you enjoy this update!

Until next month, David.

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