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A month full of tournaments. Every month it looks like the popularity of 1.b3 is increasing, so I have taken another look at this. Also there is a tricky blitz idea of Carlsen's and games from strong tournaments, such as Gibraltar, Zurich and Minsk. I hope you all enjoy a good Carnival!

Download PGN of February '14 Flank Openings games

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Larsen's Opening - 1 b3, 3...g6 [A01]

Following the saga of 1.b3, this month we take a look at another game of Jobava from a tournament that he won convincingly, Jobava - Dubov.

This time the approach can't be considered good for White and 13 0-0-0 is a bit too much in my view.

Réti Opening Rieger/Simon Gambit [A06]

Carlsen - Anand was a blitz game between two World Champions in what we can describe as a 'blitz' variation, the Rieger/Simon Gambit:

Actually Carlsen's idea is not that bad, so we can take a look.

Réti v Classical Dutch [A10]

They often say that the Dutch is not so good against 1.Nf3 because White can play d3 and e4 in some variations. Here, in Edouard - Rapport Black goes for an exotic Stonewall setup with a knight on c6:

...e6, 4...dxc4, 7 Qb3 [A13]

Aronian - Anand was a more positional game than the other ones I've analyzed for Chess Publishing this month. Aronian has an impressive score of +7 =18 -2 against Anand and this game was a victory move by move.

I like this way of playing with d3, and it's typical in this variation. Usually when White goes for a quick d4 there are good chances that Black can equalize after a well timed ...c5. However, with the pawn on d3, White can often try a setup with e4, restraining the bishop on b7 and the knight on d6. Meanwhile Black's counterplay is not so clear.

King's English Keres 2 g3, 4 Nf3 e4 [A20]

In Savchenko - Kravtsiv, a 2 g3 Keres System, White tries 7 e3 which is not so ambitious, but also no worse than the other moves:

After a series of small inaccuracies from Black White was able to improve all his pieces, increase the pressure, and win comfortably. I think Black should play something other than 14...a5 or 17...Ba7.

Symmetric [A30]

I don't usually analyze my own games here, but since Hovhanisian - Fier was such an interesting fight I decided to make an exception. With 1...g6 and a delayed ...Nf6 Black can usually avoid the kind of position of Ivanchuk - Vachier (see below):

The knight is not stable enough on d4, and White needs to make a decision.

Symmetric Rubinstein's Variation Mainline [A34]

The Rubinstein Symmetrical English with ...d5 and ...Nxd5-c7, ...e5 is one of my favourite variations. The games are usually unbalanced and the structure much more asymmetrical than any other symmetrical opening! It's hard for both players to find the right plan and here in Kozul - Negi we can see some thematic ideas in a decisive last round game from the Graz Open.

Above we see the 8 Nd2 mainline position after 11 f4.

Pure Symmetrical Mainline 8...Qa5 [A39]

Ivanchuk - Vachier Lagrave was played in the last round at Gibraltar, on board one. Ivanchuk was probably happy to make a draw after 11...Bxg4:

I don't know if he played this line because of the possible perpetual, but Black was always fine.

Till next time, Alex.

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