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This month I thought I'd take a look at various systems with a double advance of the knight pawn as there are a few wrinkles that have not been covered on previously.

Download PGN of February '10 Flank Openings games

1...c5!? against the Orangutan [A00]

First up is the Orangutan. I once sat next door to Ilya Smirin and was amazed to see him meet 1.b4 with 1...c5!? without even a second thought:

It's not at all an easy move for White to face and has quite a bit of shock value. The game Katalymov - Kupreichik is a good introduction to this line, though I don't particularly like White's 4.d4.

4.c4 (Sitnikov - Aveskulov) is a very sensible way of playing against this system, but I can't say it looks that promising:

Black was doing well here until he overreached.

Réti Opening, Extended Fianchetto with 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.b4!? [A05]

In my view this is one of the better b2-b4 recipes and has had the patronage of both Vassily Smyslov and Leonid Stein. Inspired by these two players (especially the latter) I took to playing it myself.

Stein - Rodriguez is an excellent illustration of White's strategic aims with 3.b4. He manages to nibble away at Black's centre pawns with 13.bxc6 and 14.c5, and then eventually takes control of the centre with his own.

Smyslov - Petrelli is a bit of a mismatch but provides an interesting illustration of some strategic themes. White takes space with 11.e4 and then more and more of it as the game progresses:

Eventually Black is strangled without ever having played an active move.

The play of ...c6 and ...a5 used in Davies - Fischbein is quite a challenge for White's system because the attack on the b4 pawn encourages the self-blocking c2-c3. But in this game I try a different approach of just taking on a5. White's pawn island gets split but there's compensation too.

Davies - Gormally was a big game in which my opponent had to win so part of my job was to frustrate him and get him to take risks. Even without this the position looks nice for White after 9.Ne5:

and as well as my 11.Qb3 I also like Dizdarevic's treatement with 11.Nc3.

Grob's Opening [A00]

During his years as an active competitor in international events, Mike Basman was known as the arch guru of the Grob and played it against many very strong players:

At first sight Basman - Miles looks like a convincing win for Black but there are mistakes on both sides. First of all both players seem to underestimate the strength of 8...Nf4, and secondly the position seems to be unclear after 13.e3. Of course none of it seems to be particularly promising for White....

After playing both Tony Miles and Raymond Keene in this tournament, Mike Basman commented to me that he thought that Keene was much the better player. I think it's true that he was capable of the deepest and most stylish chess of any British player, but then Tony Miles was one of the greatest fighters I've ever met.

In any case Basman - Keene provides a great model for Black against the Grob.

That's all for this time! See you next month. Nigel Davies


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