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Hi, and welcome to this month's opening report on the English! Lately we have seen many games at the cutting edge of theory, although as we have observed, Black is more than holding his own in this opening.
Morozevich is continuing to play the English with mixed success, his deep strategical understanding seems to be very well suited to the kind of positions that arise, but once again we see him coming unstuck against a player who is rapidly becoming his bête noire, Fabiano Caruana.

Download PGN of July '13 Flank Openings games

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Réti Opening 2...d4 3 b4 [A09]

First, subscriber Jose Noel Blades Aldebol sent us a game of his (against 'sturlastef') featuring what seems like a strong new move. After 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4 3.b4 Bg4 4.Qb3 g6? (he says that "This is just bad and, in my opinion, perhaps losing or handing White a clear advantage with no drawbacks and no counterplay for Black. The most common move and plan for Black is 4... f6 with the idea of laying down the chain ...f6 ...e5 with the pawn on d4."]:

5.Nxd4! obvious, strong, and yet a novelty! After the game's 5... Bg7 6. e3 e5 7. Ne2 White was just a solid pawn ahead. If instead 6...Bxd4 7. exd4 Qxd4 then 8. Qc3 should favour White with his bishop pair.

Maybe the critical line is 5...Qxd4, which at first looks like a blunder, but following 6. Bb2 Qd8 7. Bxh8 f6 the bishop is trapped. Possibly best is then 8. h3 (8. Qg3 Nh6 9. Nc3 Be6 10. Qh4 Kf7) 8... Bc8 9. h4 Nh6 10.h5, which might not be entirely clear. More tests or analysis please!

Capablanca's Variation - 3...Bg4 [A11]

We start this month's report with the game Roiz, M - Postny, E, which gave a good demonstration of how knights can triumph over bishops. After 16...Nbd5! Black had an iron grip over the important d5 square:

something which was not relinquished for the remainder of the game.

Reversed Dragon 9 Be3 [A29]

Kamsky, G - Svidler, P saw a positional masterpiece from the American player. After 13.b4:

White already has the makings of a useful initiative on the queenside and in the center. In fact Svidler was made to regret his expansive play with an earlier ..f5 as Kamsky ripped his kingside asunder.

Symmetric [A31]

In Swiercz, D - Meier, G Black tried out a very interesting idea which has been seen several times before. With 9...h5!? Black already demonstrated his aggressive intentions:

However, rather like in the Moro-Caruana game below, Black did not show total faith in his strategy, and rather than going all-out for a kingside attack, elected to castle. The punishment for such a half-hearted approach came very swiftly.

Four Knights 6 a3 [A33]

Bacrot, E - Ragger, M saw a line where Black is very close to full equality. Bacrot's chances of winning were certainly not helped either by the inaccurate 16.Qd4?!:

After which Black was able to kill the game stone dead within a few moves.

Symmetric 2 Nc3 Nf6 Black plays an early ...d5 [A34]

Istratescu, A - Khalifman, A was a real humdinger of a game, with both players swapping blows for a number of moves before White finally got on top. It's not often that the play of the loser in a game of chess is praised, but I must do that in Khalifman's case. His 8..Rb8 was the first of a number of principled moves that demonstrated his high chess class:

Unlucky for him, that despite this excellent play White retained the better practical chances. Doubtless, too, the computer would have a field day in such a sharp game.

Morozevich, A - Caruana, F was another slug-fest. Morozevich as usual went his own way with the interesting 6.Qc2, aiming for quiet, manouevering play but perhaps also a quick assault on the kingside, if Black is not careful:

However, despite thrusting his h-pawn quickly forward, Morozevich did not follow up on his aggressive play and it was Caruana who took over late into the game, showing off his relentless qualities which seem to make him the most likely player to join the "2800 club".

3...g6 4 d4 [A35]

Finally, we come to Wang Hao-Anand,V which was not the world champion's finest hour. He blundered horribly with 16..Rfd8??:

And Wang Hao, solid as ever, had little problem putting him away.

I hope you enjoyed this month's update and I look forward to doing more in future! Danny.

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