ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
There have been an awful lot of excellent games recently, as a lot of strong tournaments have been (and still are being) played. However, this update is influenced by two club matches I played last weekend, or, rather, the openings I looked at when preparing for my potential opponents the week before (I had White in both games and planned on playing 1 c4 in both, but had 7 potential adversaries.)
I should perhaps point out that my preparation actually failed miserably, and that neither of my openings went as planned, but the good news is that you never quite know when your opening work will bear it's fruit.

Download PGN of February '15 Flank Openings games

>> Previous Update >>

English Defence mainline 6 0-0 0-0 7 Bc2 [A10]

Strangely we've not yet considered the most popular line (for English Opening players, at least) against this variation, 1 c4 e6 2 Nc3 b6 3 Nf3 Bb7 4 e4 Bb4 5 Bd3 Ne7 6 O-O O-O 7 Bc2, intending d4:

as we have previously concentrated on (what were at the time) trendy lines with Ne2. Jones - Rozentalis continued 7...f5 8 Qe2 Bxc3 9 bxc3 Bxe4 10 Bxe4 fxe4 11 Qxe4 Nbc6 12 d4, reaching an important position:

White has more space and is threatening Ba3 and d5, but has weakish doubled pawns while Black is fairly solid. I feel that White is better, but things can easily go wrong.

The Romanishin Gambit 9 e4 [A13]

After the standard 3 g3 a6 4 Bg2 b5 5 b3 c5 6 O-O Bb7 7 Nc3 Qa5 8 Bb2 Be7 the critical move seems to be the aggressive advance 9 e4, first played by Delchev:

White plans e5 and maybe d4, and after 9...b4 the retort 10 e5 led to a promising endgame for White in Ni - Cheng.

Mikenas Attack 3...d5, 8...Nc6! [A18]

When I annotated Grischuk-Aronian a little while ago I suggested that after 3 e4 d5 4 e5 d4 5 exf6 dxc3 6 bxc3 Qxf6 7 d4 e5 8 Nf3 Nc6 9 Bg5 Qg6 10 d5 Nb8 11 h4 the move 11...h6 might well be Black's best:

and this was thoroughly tested in Vachier Lagrave-Wojtaszek from Wijk aan Zee, which soon dissolved into wild complications.

King's English 3...Bb4, 5 e4 [A22]

The game Mamedyarov - Giri serves to remind us that the line 3 g3 Bb4 4 Bg2 O-O 5 e4 Bxc3 6 bxc3 Re8 (probably more accurate than the immediate 6...c6) 7 d3 c6 8 Ne2 d5 9 cxd5 cxd5 10 exd5 Nxd5 11 Rb1 Nc6 12 O-O is not very good for White, and even more so after John Bartholomew's suggested improvement from 2011, the move 12...Bg4!:

Pinning e2, and menacing the c3-pawn.

King's English 3...Be7 [A22]

While I was preparing for the afore-mentioned club matches I saw that one of my potential opponents sometimes played the strange move 3...Be7:

Black keeps his options open although will probably aim for an Old Indian setup. So, I decided to look through some GM games to see how White should play, and came across a game of my own, Kosten - Anic from way back in 1999! A near brilliancy, only spoiled by time trouble. Of course, I was young then (barely 40!) and so could still calculate tactics!

Four Knights 4 g3, Reversed Dragon [A29]

The Gibraltar tournament finished a day or two ago (at the time of writing), and so most of the games will have missed the 'cut-off point' for this update, but I couldn't resist covering the critical penultimate round game Howell - Naroditsky. The game was a fairly standard Reversed Dragon, but after 4 g3 d5 5 cxd5 Nxd5 6 Bg2 Nb6 7 O-O Be7 8 a3 O-O 9 b4 Be6 10 d3 a5 11 b5 Nd4 David played the interesting exchange sac starting 12 Nxe5!?:

The simple fact that David would risk this line in such an important game suggests he believes in it, and the result would certainly appear to justify his decision - he was always better and never risked losing. Interestingly, his important 16th move is actually a novelty in over-the-board chess, although it has been played many times (especially by Garriga Nualart) in correspondence games by email. So, it certainly pays to be aware of opening trends in correspondence chess nowadays.

Symmetrical Three Knights 4 e3 [A35]

During his tenure here John Bartholomew was very fond of examining the 4 e3 mainline, which continues 4...Nf6 5 d4 cxd4 6 exd4 d5 7 cxd5 Nxd5 8 Qb3 Nxc3 9 Bc4 Nd5 10 Bxd5 e6 11 Bxc6+ bxc6 12 O-O. The game Predojevic - Lovik continued 12...f6 (first 12...Qd5 13 Be3 then 13...f6 would transpose) 13 Be3 Qd5 14 Nd2:

and Black was horribly mauled. However, it seems to me that there are two interesting lessons to be learned here: firstly, that the black dark-squared bishop should probably go to e7 to guard f6, and secondly, that if you want to play the black pieces in this line you need to be the sort of player who is happy to do nothing too active and just defend for hours on end!

Pure Symmetrical 5 Nf3 Nh6 [A37]

Finally, another game from ex-ChessPubber Gawain Jones, and let's face it, we should enjoy his English Opening games while we can, for who knows when he will return to playing 1 e4?! This particular game featured 5...Nh6, and the fairly critical response 6 d4! cxd4 7 Nxd4 Nxd4 8 Bxh6 Bxh6 9 Qxd4 O-O 10 O-O Bg7 11 Qe3 d6 12 Rfd1:

Here, though, after the standard 12...Bxc3 Gaw played 13 bxc3!?, voluntarily giving himself weak c-pawns, but hoping that his dynamic play along the b-file will outweigh this. Actually, it seems to me that this is probably no worse than the alternative, and certainly gives Black more headaches.

However, White also has be on his toes, and in Jones - Dragicevic, things were far from clear for a while, Black missing a couple of draws before getting his tactics slightly wrong and finding himself getting mated!

Till next time, Tony.

>> Previous Update >>

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