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This month’s Update includes games from a variety of events, including the innovative Casablanca tournament. This featured a line of the Réti dating back to a famous Kasparov-Karpov encounter.

Download PGN of June ’24 Flank Openings games

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King’s Indian Attack 6 Bf4 [A07]

Indjic, A - Yu Yangyi opened with 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 e6 4 0-0 Be7 5 d3 0-0, and now 6 Bf4, which is an interesting alternative to the standard 6 Nbd2. Now 6...c5 is the most common reply, but Black took a different direction with 6...Nc6:

The game continued with 7 d4, investing a tempo to fix the centre. Black completed queenside development with 10...b6 and 11...Bb7, and Yu Yangyi’s light squared strategy eventually generated decent queenside counterplay.

Réti Opening, 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 Nd7 3 d4 [A07]

After 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3, the move 2...Nd7 burst onto the scene a few years back, and continues to be a valid alternative to more mainstream lines. We last looked at 2...Nd7 in 2021, so it is time to catch up with the latest developments. Andreikin, D - Grandelius, N continued with 3 d4 Nb6 4 Nc3 Bf5:

White's main tries involve chasing the f5-bishop, and Andreikin continued with 5 Nh4 Bg4 6 Qd3 Nf6 7 e4. Now 7...e5! is critical, while the game continuation 7...dxe4 isn’t so bad. Unfortunately, this theoretically important game was marred by Black’s blunder a few moves later.

Réti Opening, Double Fianchetto vs. QGD setup [A14]

In the Casablanca tournament, the players contested rapid games from set positions, taken from historical World Championship games. In this case, we are following Kasparov-Karpov, game 24 from 1987, after Black’s 8th move:

The game Carlsen, M - Amin, B saw one of the typical pawn structures arising after 9 Qe2 c5 10 Nc3 a6 11 Rfd1 dxc4 12 bxc4. Carlsen then implemented the thematic plan of trading the light-squared bishops and launching a kingside pawn storm with f2-f4 and g3-g4, which he got in ahead of Black’s queenside counterplay based on ...b6-b5. Despite some ups and downs, White emerged on top.

Nakamura, H - Anand, V also reached the same pawn structure with …d5xc4, b3xc4, but Anand was more single-minded about getting the queenside play going, reaching this position after 19...b5:

Black was doing fine in the middlegame, but later on allowed some kingside chances after all. The game ended in a draw after some time trouble adventures. Overall, an instructive pair of games which illustrate the key ideas for both sides in this variation.

Mikenas Attack, 3...d5 4 e5, 7 Bd3 [A18]

Fedoseev, V - Peralta, F started with 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e6 3 e4 d5 4 e5 d4 5 exf6 dxc3 6 bxc3 Qxf6, but now 7 Bd3 is a rare choice. One of the points is that, after the more standard 7 Nf3 or 7 d4, the move 7...b6 is one of Black's key options, which is more or less ruled out by the 7 Bd3 move order.

Black has a wide choice here, while the game continued 7...Nc6 8 Be4 e5 9 Qc2 g6 10 Rb1 Bh6. White got a nice position after 11 Ne2 0-0 12 0-0 Rb8 13 f4, and scored a quick win after Black started to lose the thread.

Mikenas Attack, 3...d5 4 cxd5 exd5 5 e5 d4 [A18]

Yilmaz, M - Yilmazyerli, M was another Mikenas, varying from the previous game with 4 cxd5 exd5 5 e5. Here, the move 5...d4 used to be considered sub-optimal, but recent games have shown that Black has a solid enough position.

From the diagram position, 7...Nc6 has been a topical choice in high-level games. After the sequence 8 Qe2+ Be6 9 dxc3 Qxf6 10 Nf3 Bd6 11 Nd4 0-0 12 Nxe6 Rfe8 13 Bc4 Na5 14 Bg5 White emerges with the bishop pair, although Black is not far from equality.

King’s English, 1 c4 e5 2 g3 d6 3 Nc3 Be7 4 d4 f5 [A21]

Niemann, H - Idani, P saw Black adopt the flexible setup starting with 1 c4 e5 2 g3 d6 3 Nc3 Be7 4 d4 f5, which was answered by the topical idea 5 Bh3:

Now 5...a5 is a rare continuation, but one that appears to a pet line of Idani. White continued in straightforward fashion, trading queens with 6 dxe5 7 Qxd8+ Bxd8 and exploiting the pin with 8 e4. After 8...Nc6 9 Bxf5 Bxf5 10 exf5 Nd4 11 Kf1 Nxf5 Black regained the pawn, but the isolated e-pawn gave White something to play for in the endgame.

King’s English, 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Nf3 f5 4 g3 [A27]

Shevchenko, K - Lodici, L featured another line involving an early ...f7-f5, namely 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Nf3 f5 4 g3 Nf6 5 d4 e4 6 Nh4:

Here 6...Bb4 is a fairly fresh idea examined in the notes, while in the game after 6...d5 7 Bg5, Black should probably prefer 7...Bb4 to 7...Be7. White missed some early chances however, eventually still prevailing after a tense manoeuvring battle.

Until next month, David.

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