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Hi Everyone!
I am IM David Cummings and I'm excited to be writing my first contribution for Chess Publishing. This month there were many top level games played in the Flank Openings at the super-tournaments in Norway, Dortmund and Danzhou. In this update, I look at important novelties, instructive plans and move-order nuances in the Réti, English and Pseudo-Grünfeld.

Download PGN of July '15 Flank Openings games

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Réti Opening 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 d4 3 b4 f6 4 e3 e5 5 c5 [A09]

The theory in this sharp line continues to develop rapidly, and we revisit the topical position after 5 c5 a5 6 Qa4+ Bd7 7 b5 Bxc5 8 Bc4 Ne7 9 exd4 exd4:

In earlier games, we have seen 10 Ba3 when White has decent compensation for the sacrificed pawn. In Ramirez - Edouard, White played 10 Bb2, aiming to immediately regain the pawn by capturing on d4. In the subsequent complications, however, Black was better placed to take advantage of the open centre and crashed through for a win in 26 moves.

Réti Opening 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 c6 3 g3 d5 4 Bg2 Bf5 [A11]

The most common reply to the Lasker system with 4...Bf5 is 5 cxd5 cxd5 6 Qb3, but in Wang Yue-Lu Shanglei, White instead chose the sequence 5 Qb3 Qb6 6 d3 e6 7 Be3:

One advantage of this move-order is that White avoids the tricky gambit 5 cxd5 cxd5 6 Qb3 Nc6!?,which we have looked at on this site in the past.

With the game continuation, Wang Yue reached a queenless middlegame on his own terms, and outplayed the 2014 World Junior Champion in an impressive positional display.

Pseudo-Grünfeld 5 h4 [A16]

In the Pseudo-Grünfeld line with 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 h4 Bg7, White usually tries to generate a quick attack starting with 6 h5. In Wang Yue-Wei Yi, White changed tack with 6 e4, which is extremely rare in this position:

After 6...Nxc3 7 dxc3 Qxd1+ 8 Kxd1 we reach a position similar to the frequently played line with 5 e4 Nxc3 6 dxc3 Qxd1+ 7 Kxd1 but with the important difference that Black's bishop has been lured to g7.

In fact, after 5 e4 Nxc3 6 dxc3 Qxd1+ 7 Kxd1, Black's best is 7...f6 followed by ...e5 and ideally trading the dark-squared bishops-but Wang Yue's move-order rules this out.

Once again, Wang Yue was able to reach a queenless middlegame where he was more comfortable than his opponent, the young, emerging superstar Wei Yi, and won a great game. The combination of 5 h4 and 6 e4 does appear to set Black some problems and will likely find other followers.

Reversed Dragon 6 d3 [A22]

Grischuk - Hammer saw a highly creative approach to the opening, resulting in an original position early in the game. After 1 c4 e5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Nc3 Nb6 6 d3 Be7 Grischuk ventured 7 Nh3!?:

After Hammer's 7...g5 came the even more procative 8 Ng1!?. Black responded with 8...h5 which is probably too much. After 9 h3 Nc6 10 Bxc6+ bxc6 11 Nf3 f6 12 Be3 we reach an unusual structure but one where White is slightly better. Grischuk steadily increased his advantage and eventually secured a win in the endgame.

King's English 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 g3 Bc5 [A25]

Following 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 g3 Bc5 4 Bg2 d6 5 e3 a6 6 Nge2 Ba7 7 a3 we reach a line that Nakamura recently played as White against Grandelius in a game Tony covered in the March 2015 Update. In Aronian - Nakamura from Norway Chess, however he took the Black side, and here played the forthright 7...h5:

Aronian pursued a dark-squared strategy, while Nakamura continue to press on the kingside light-squares. The game was dynamically balanced until move 19, when Aronian went wrong. Nakamura didn't give him a second chance and secured the full point.

Reversed Dragon 6 d3 [A29]

Anand - Hammer was another Reversed Dragon from Norway Chess, but Anand did not repeat Grischuk's 7 Nh3 experiment and instead implemented a more conventional Dragon-style approach.

After 1 c4 e5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Nc3 Nb6, instead of the most popular plan of 6 Nf3 followed by early queenside expansion with a3 and b4, Anand chose quick piece development with 6 d3 Be7 7 Be3 0-0 8 Rc1 f5 9 Nf3 Nc6. After 10 0-0 Be6 he launched out with 11 b4! which is a theme borrowed from the mainline Classical Dragon (with colours reversed):

Play remained roughly balanced, however, until Hammer erred on move 25. Anand then continued to crank up the pressure in the run-up to the time control, and forced resignation on move 36.

Symmetrical English 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 g3 g6 4 Bg2 Bg7 5 d4 cxd4 6 Nxd4 d5 [A30]

1 c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 g3 g6 4 Bg2 Bg7 5 d4 cxd4 6 Nxd4 d5!? is a line that has been tried occasionally by Grünfeld specialists, including Nepomniachtchi who had given it an outing in a blitz game.

In Kramnik - Nepomniachtchi, Kramnik evidently came well prepared and rolled out the strong 7 Nc3!:

After 7...dxc4 8 Qa4+ Nbd7 9 0-0 0-0 10 Rd1 Nb6 11 Qa3 Qd6 the queens came off and White was clearly better. That was only the start of the adventures though, as Nepomniachtchi fought his way back into the game. Just as the contest seemed to be heading for a draw in a rook and minor piece endgame, Kramnik worked some magic with his knights and Nepomniachtchi's king was caught in an amazing mating net. He had to shed material to escape and Kramnik finally won the knight endgame.

7 Nc3 does look good and Black needs to find an improvement somewhere for this 6...d5 line to be viable.

Symmetrical English 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nc3 Nc6 4 g3 d5 5 cxd5 Nxd5 6 Bg2 g6 [A38]

Nakamura - Caruana reached the position after 1 c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nc3 Nc6 4 g3 d5 5 cxd5 Nxd5 6 Bg2 g6 7 0-0 Bg7 8 Nxd5 Qxd5 9 d3 0-0 10 Be3 Bd7 which this site has covered several times over the years:

After 11 Nd4 Qd6 12 Nxc6 Bxc6 13 Bxc6 Qxc6 14 Rc1 Caruana played 14...Qa6 which is a recent refinement over the traditional 14...Qe6. The position remained equal until just before the time control when Caruana self-destructed with weakening pawn moves. Nakamura then made no mistake and won the resulting rook ending convincingly.

I hope you enjoy this update! Till next time, David.

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