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Many years ago I realised that one disadvantage of having just one writer in charge of one section for a long time, is that he will always have his favourite variations and will prefer looking at games in those lines, to the possible detriment of other important variations.
I certainly notice it with my own work - there are lines I am interested in and enjoy playing, and these variations seem to shout at me when I look through the latest batch of Flank games to choose the subjects of my update. Fortunately subscribers have had a variety of excellent writers over the last years to fill in those gaps that don't interest me too much!
Anyway, back to this month's Flank update and my usual favourites!!

Download PGN of July '14 Flank Openings games

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Réti 2...d4 3 g3 Nc6 [A09]

I suppose the two most ambitious lines for Black against the 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 Réti either involve grabbing the c-pawn at some point, or advancing with ...d4, and trying to show that White's extra move or two in a Benoni structure is less important than Black's space. The first two games this month look at this second possibility:

Anand - Salem continued 3 g3 Nc6 4 Bg2 e5, reaching a reversed Schmid Benoni, 5 0-0 Nf6 6 d3 when Black tried 6...h6!? and then Anand played the thematic 7 b4 Nxb4 8 Nxe5:

The fact that Black didn't play 6...Be7 means that he can now 'save a move' by going 8...Bd6 directly here, but it is unlikely that he gains anything from this, see my notes. This is only a blitz game, and I'm normally reticent about using these as the quality can obviously be very variable, but this particular game features nice thematic play from White, that is worth remembering and imitating, and a very incisive attack.

Réti 2...d4 3 b4 f6, Delchev's 6 Bb5+ [A09]

Last month I wrote that: 'Delchev's 6 Bb5+ is definitely dubious', and lo and behold, a few days later Panjwani - So was played, featuring this very same line! Wesley So is always well prepared and certainly knew the refutation, winning a quick game. However, White actually found a possible improvement, 14 a3:

Trying to dissuade Black from castling long.

Romanishin Gambit 3...a6 4 Bg2 b5 [A13]

I had to prepare for the Romanishin Gambit a few weeks ago (although the actual game took a different route), but didn't find anything convincing for White.

So, Ni - Tischbierek features two recent quick white wins that I wanted to look at in more detail, but on closer examination it appears that Black is fine in both.

Réti Mainline ...e6 & ...d5, 9...a5 [A14]

This is an important mainline position in the Réti:

Instead of the standard 9...c5, Black has enjoyed a lot of success with 9...a5 10 Nc3 a4 when he can either open the a-file or maybe play ...a3 under favourable circumstances. 11 Nxa4 is answered by 11...dxc4 and players had previously avoided 12 Qxc4 as it allows the skewer 12...Ba6, winning the exchange. However, in Rusev - Brynell White brazenly allowed this, deciding that his pawn and excellent light square control was sufficient compensation for the exchange, and he was rewarded with a crushing victory.

I'm sure that we will be seeing this line again, although I think that Black should be fine with correct play.

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

Just as I was analysing last month's game between Bunzmann and Riazantsev, Grischuk - Aronian was being played! Here, however, Grischuk played White's critical response to 8...Nc6, specifically 9 Bg5 Qg6 10 d5 Nb8 11 h4, and following 11...Nd7 12 Bd3 e4?! 13 h5! Qf5? Black was already quite lost! Can you see what White played next?

However, before we get too excited about White's prospects, it turns out that Aronian had completely forgotten his home preparation.

Symmetrical English 4...e5, 8 h3 [A31]

The sharp Symmetrical line with 3...cxd4 4 Nxd4 e5 had a certain allure many years ago when a young Kasparov scored well with it:

Black will play ...d5, sacrificing a pawn, and in return he will get free piece play and tactical chances. It is dangerous at lower levels, but is possibly not such a good choice against a strong GM as he will make the extra pawn count. Ivanchuk - Yam is a case in point, although Black could have played more precisely at a couple of junctures.

Symmetric 3...d5, 5 e4 Nb4 6 Bb5+, 7 d3!? [A34]

After 3 Nc3 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 e4 Nb4 6 Bb5+ N8c6 the game Grischuk - Svidler continued with 7 d3!?, which is almost a novelty:

Play continued 7...a6 8 Bxc6+ Nxc6 9 Be3 when it was clear that White intends to exploit his lead in development and pressure on the c5-pawn. In reply Svidler's play was near perfect, and after a sharp series of blows and counter blows a drawn opposite colour bishop endgame was reached.

Pure Symmetrical - 5 Nf3 e5 Botvinnik System, 11 Bg5 f6 12 Be3 [A37]

Istratescu - Brunner features a recommendation of mine against the Symmetrical Botvinnik, from The Dynamic English, the manoeuvre Bg5-e3, reaching the following position:

15 years ago I considered 12...Rb8 to be inaccurate, and I still do, see the game continuation.

Till next time, Tony.

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