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Hello and Welcome to the July Update.
I had three games with Flank openings at the recent Scottish International Open that I thought were worth sharing with readers.

Download PGN of July '09 Flank Openings games

King's English [A20-29]

Roberts - Rowson is not a great game, but I use it as a source to highlight some great ideas. The key theme is how to stabilise the queenside against White's queenside pawn advance, which is an idea originally derived from the classic Closed Sicilian game Spassky-Geller and endorsed by Kasparov.

The diagram comes after the key move 15...Rc8!

Rowson - Kjartansson began as a slightly jaded attempt to avoid opening preparation (both the opponent's and my own) but it quickly became more speculative.

I still find some charm in 3.e3!? because it forces Black to think earlier than he might normally want to:

but I will think twice before lunging with my g-pawn again.

Sticking with lines in the reversed Sicilian, David - Svetushkin shows how not to play one of Black's more reliable set-ups, both in terms of early move-orders and later piece placement, but it also shows that chess is about much more than the opening, because White managed to lose from a winning position.

Rubinstein Variation

When thinking about playing 1 c4 I have to confess that I am usually hoping for 1...e5 and do not yet have anything particularly convincing after 1...c5, but then, neither does anybody else! The only way to challenge the symmetrical English, is the same way you continue in the case of 1 e4 e5 or the Slav, which is to keep generating ideas with a little venom, and moving on just before the antidote becomes widely known. Part of generating new ideas of course is rehashing old ones, which is what White did to great effect in Meier - Timofeev with 7.a3!?:

Tomashevsky - Najer features a line that I have to confess I never really understood:

I know that two bishops can sometimes give full compensation for a pawn, but giving a centre pawn and losing a tempo in the process always seemed a bit much to me. In this particular case White used his extra pawn to good effect, by giving it back at the right moment, but in the notes I have indicated an alternate way of playing that may keep this line afloat for Black. That said, I am reminded that even Kasparov lost in this line to Jereon Piket, so if Kasparov can't make it work...

Slav without d4

Rowson - Thompson follows on from an earlier update on the Slav with a delayed d4 or, as was the case here, without d4 at all. The position featured a relatively quiet build-up until my opponent attempted to copy Shirov's manoeuvre from a related line of the Slav:

However, it was very different without the pawn on d4! That said, Black's play might have held together if he had found an improvement on move 17, so I am not sure his opening play was actually wrong.

That's all for now, enjoy August. Jonathan


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