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Now that Gawain Jones seems to be a 1 c4 convert I'm glad to say that I managed to persuade his second, our very own Richard Palliser, to annotate the important first encounter in Gawain's match against Romain Edouard. Richard also annotates the bulk of the rest of this update, and covers a few interesting recent ideas in the Dunst (or Van Geet), Larsen and Bird's Openings.
Meanwhile, I've looked at a few more mainstream ideas in the Réti and Symmetrical English that caught my eye.

Download PGN of January '15 Flank Openings games

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The Van Geet (or Dunst Opening) 1...c5 [A00]

1 Nc3 is a tricky little move. Many can sensibly counter with 1...d5, but if you prefer 1...c5 or 1...e5, be careful and know your stuff! After 1...c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 we reach a position not really covered on ChessPub before. Unfortunately for Taimanov players, 4...e6?! cannot be recommended in view of 5 Ndb5!:

The problem is 5...d6 6 Bf4 e5 7 Nd5!, as we'll see in Ibarra Jerez-Sanchez Dengra.

The Van Geet 1...d5 2 e4 [A00]

A very sensible approach after 1 Nc3 is 1...d5 2 e4 and then 2...dxe4 3 Nxe4 followed by 3...Nd7 or even 3...Qd5!? if you're a Scandinavian player. More ambitious and also quite reasonable is 2...d4 3 Nce2 e5:

Here White can't easily make good use of his f-pawn, but neither is 4 Nf3 Bd6 5 Ng3 Be6 an amazing reversed Tango for him with Bc4 ruled out. We'll check out the type of manoeuvring game which tends to ensue in Genocchio - Altini, which ended with an impressive stalemate construct.

The Nimzo-Larsen Attack 1 b3 g6!? 2 Bb2 Nf6 [A01]

Ever since seeing, in David Norwood's classic book on the Modern, that Black can get away with 1 b3 g6!? 2 Bb2 Nf6, I've dabbled in the move. Even for non-Modern players the line isn't so hard to learn and might suit the creative type if you've nothing in store for the vaguely trendy 1 b3.

Vladimir Kramnik recently played this way as Black and there certainly isn't anything to fear after 3 e4 or 3 g4 Bg7 (3...h6!? is also quite reasonable) 4 g5 Nh5, as we'll see in Safarli - Mamedov.

Bird's Opening, reversed Leningrad 7 Qe1 [A03]

1 f4 was seen twice in the Russian Superfinal at the end of last year. Svidler - Jakovenko was a pure reversed Leningrad after 1...d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 g3 g6 4 Bg2 Bg7 5 0-0 0-0 6 d3 c5 7 Qe1 Nc6:

It's long been known that 8 e4 dxe4 9 dxe4 e5! is an easy equaliser, so Svidler tried a slower approach with 8 h3!?, but never really got anywhere against Jakovenko's ultra-solid play.

Réti Opening 3 b3 Be7 4 Bb2 Bf6 [A13]

The line 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 e6 3 b3 Be7 4 Bb2 Bf6 always looked a bit wrong to me, although when I've had this line as White I can't ever remember getting any advantage! So, I was intrigued by the game Kramnik - Shyam which continued with 5 Nc3 dxc4 6 bxc4 c5 and this was met by the sharp thrust 7 g4!?:

Black played pretty well and managed to hold on against the ex-World Champ, although he needed a little bit of luck.

Two things to look out for here: firstly, when analysing this I realised that White has a route to an advantage after the normal 7 g3, and secondly, don't miss Kramnik's 11th move!

Réti Mainline with ...c5 and ...dxc4 [A14]

Kramnik - Mista reached the following standard, and very solid theoretical position:

Here Kramnik played the interesting 16 Ba1 followed by 17 Na4 and won with a brilliant attack. Don't miss this!

King's English Reversed Dragon 6 e3 [A22]

One highlight of the 2014 London Chess Classic was the match between Romain Edouard and Gawain Jones, sponsored by Brambles Administration Ltd. The English GM chose 1 c4 in all his white games and was allowed to employ one of his pet lines in the opening encounter, 1...e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 g3 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Bg2 Nb6 6 e3!? Nc6 7 Nge2 Be7 8 0-0 0-0 9 f4:

Here 9...f6 is very sensible and was once proposed on these pages by John Bartholomew. We'll take a look, including at the novelty 10 f5 a5 11 b3!? in Jones - Edouard.

Symmetric - Nimzovich's 5 e4 Nb4 6 Bc4 with 9 b4 [A34]

We've already looked at the position after 3...d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 e4 Nb4 6 Bc4 Nd3+ 7 Ke2 Nf4+ 8 Kf1 Ne6 9 b4 g6 10 bxc5 Bg7 a few times on this site:

However, we'd only previously considered the most popular line, 11 Bxe6 Bxe6 12 d4, which is probably OK for Black. Instead, in Jakovenko - Nepomniachtchi, White didn't worry about the d4-square and simply hung on to the c5-pawn with 11 Ba3!. After thoroughly analysing line this I think it is the strongest, and offers White good chances of an advantage.

Till next time, Tony.

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