ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
This Update includes games from the World Team Championship and other top OTB events. Of particular note are some lesser-known lines featuring queen sorties as early as move 3!

Download PGN of December ’22 Flank Openings games

>> Previous Update >>

Réti/Larsen Opening, 1 b3 d5 2 Bb2 c5 3 Nf3 f6 [A06]

The rapid game Erigaisi, A - Vidit, S featured some early twists in Larsen's Opening after 1 b3 d5 2 Bb2 c5 3 Nf3. Now 3...Nc6 4 e3 Nf6 5 Bb5 is the kind of setup White is hoping for, but 3...f6 is an uncompromising response, aiming for a big centre. White, in turn, continued with the critical move 4 e4:

After 4...dxe4 5 Nh4, Black’s best may be 5...Nh6, but Vidit continued with 5...g6 6 Qe2 Bg7, setting up tactical ideas along the a1-h8 diagonal. The game proceeded with 7 Qxe4 f5 8 Qa4+ Bd7 and now White blundered with 9 Bxg7??, which allowed 9...Bxa4 10 bxa4 Nf6 11 Bxh8 Qd4 winning material. Despite losing his queen, White came back to draw the game!

Gurevich’s Anti-Slav System, 1 c4 c6 2 Nf3 d5 3 e3 Nf6 4 b3 Bg4 [A12]

Lagarde, M - Sasikiran, K opened with 1 c4 c6 2 Nf3 d5 3 e3 Nf6 4 b3 Bg4 5 Bb2 Nbd7 6 h3 Bh5 7 Be2 e6 8 Nc3:

In this kind of system, White can enter a standard Slav setup by playing d2-d4 at any point, or try something creative on the kingside. After 8...a6, White decided to go with the latter plan with 9 d3 Bd6 10 g4 Bg6. Now 11 g5 pushes the f6-knight to an inferior square, while 11 h4 was less accurate and could have backfired after 11...h5. Instead, Black was still doing quite well after 11...h6, but later went astray, and White took over.

Réti Double Fianchetto vs. QGD setup, 6...b6 7 cxd5 Nxd5 8 d4 [A14]

Anton Guijarro, D - Alonso Rosell, A explored a modern mainline of the Réti that starts with 1 c4 e6 2 g3 d5 3 Bg2 Nf6 4 Nf3 Be7 5 0-0 0-0 6 b3 b6 7 cxd5 Nxd5 8 Bb2 Bb7 9 d4 Nd7, with the players reaching the following position after White’s 13th move.

Objectively, Black should be able to equalize, but has to navigate the positional nuances, and play accurately over the next few moves to prove it. In the game, 19...e5 was the first small concession, giving White better control of the light squares, and White went on to outplay his opponent.

King’s English, 1 c4 e5 2 g3 g6 3 d4 [A20]

After 1 c4 e5 2 g3 g6, the routine 3 Bg2 is played in the vast majority of games. In Liu Yan - Zhao Jun, however, White essayed the rare (but engine-approved) 3 d4, which commits the queen early on, but secures a favourable pawn structure if Black trades on the d4-square.

Now 3...d6 is explored in the notes, while the game continued with 3...exd4 4 Qxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Qe3+ Qe7. Now 7 Bg2 d6 8 Nd5, as played in an old Julian Hodgson game, promises White an edge. Instead, in this month’s game 7 Nb5 Qxe3 8 Bxe3 Bb4+ allowed Black to relieve the pressure, and the game veered towards equality.

King’s English, Reversed Closed Sicilian [A25]

The encounter Xu Xiangyu - Anton Guijarro, D featured the line 1 c4 e5 2 g3 Nc6 3 Bg2 g6 4 Nc3 Bg7 5 Rb1 a5. By avoiding early simplifications and concrete theory, such an opening allows both sides to play for a win. Now, following 6 d3 d6 7 e3, Black unleashed 7...h5, which is a typical idea against e2-e3 setups:

In response, White switched plans from Ng1-e2 to 8 Nf3, discouraging the ...h5-h4 thrust. After 8...Bf5 9 h3 Qc8 10 e4 Bd7 11 Be3 Nge7, White could have pressed for an advantage with 12 d4. Instead, after the slower 12 Qd2 Nd4, Black had solved his problems and following 13 Bxd4 exd4 14 Nb5 Bxb5 15 cxb5 Qd7 began to gain the upper hand on the queenside.

King’s English, Four Knights 4 e4 d6 5 d4 Bg4 [A28]

In the 4 e4 Four Knights, following 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 e4, the two mainlines are 4...Bc5 and 4...Bb4 but 4...d6 is also seen from time to time. Black’s main point is to answer 5 d4 with 5...Bg4, putting pressure on White's centre:

After 6 d5 Nd4, White has often played 7 Be3, but 7 Be2 has been the choice of the top Uzbek players, and was tried in Vakhidov, J - Kovalenko, I from the World Team Championship. Following 7...Nxe2 8 Qxe2 Be7 9 h3 Bd7 10 0-0 0-0, the move 11 Ne1 prepared a quick f2-f4 and yielded White a pleasant game, which later grew to a significant advantage.

King’s English, 1 c4 e5 2 g3 d5 3 cxd5 Qxd5 [A29]

After 1 c4 e5 2 g3, the move 2...d5 is an offbeat choice, and another example of an early queen sortie with 3 cxd5 Qxd5, which Black tried out in Vachier-Lagrave , M - Vidit, S.

The position after 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 Nc3 Qd8 6 Bg2 Nf6 has been see quite rarely, so the theory is in its infancy. Black is playing as in a standard reversed Dragon, but with the knight on the f6-square instead of the b6-square. Now 7 b4 is an important try examined in the notes, while the game continued with 7 0-0 h6 8 e3. White’s setup after 8...Bd6 9 d4 exd4 10 Nxd4 11 Qxd4 Qe7 12 b3 turned out to be fairly toothless, and Black took over after landing a tactical blow on move 17.

Symmetrical English, Rubinstein Variation 8 a3 [A34]

The game Gukesh, D - Abdusattarov, N transposed to one of the mainlines of the Rubinstein via the move order 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 g3 c5 3 Bg2 Nc6 4 c4 d5 5 cxd5 Nxd5 6 0-0 e5 7.Nc3 Nc7. Now White’s choices include 8 b3 and 8 d3, while Gukesh went for 8 a3:

Current theory suggests 8...Rb8, preempting the potential pressure along the long diagonal. Meanwhile 8...f6 is also a popular move, but after 9 e3 White can aim to blast the centre open before Black has completed development. Following 9...Be7 10 d4 cxd4 11 exd4 12 Ne2, White recovered the pawn, and Black's earlier ...f7-f6 had significantly weakened his light squares. White soon took over and scored a convincing victory.

I hope you enjoy this Update!

Until next month, David.

>> Previous Update >>

To contact the author please go to the Flank Openings Forum, or subscribers can write directly to