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As the English and Réti continue to feature prominently in top events, we explore a wave of new ideas, including two novelties by move 5!

Download PGN of July ’19 Flank Openings games

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Anti-QGD System 1 c4 e6 2 b3 d5 3 e3 d4 [A13]

Vladislav Artemiev makes fairly regular use of Flank Openings as White. In Artemiev, V - Inarkiev, E, he employed the experimental move order 1 c4 e6 2 b3!?. After Black responded with the principled 2...d5 3 e3 d4!, the game was in almost uncharted territory:

In fact 4 exd4 here was already a new move! Black secured the control of the d4-square with 4...Nc6 and should have been doing well out of the opening. The move 8...c5, however, left Black seriously behind in development and allowed White to take control.

Réti Opening, Reversed Benoni [A14]

The position in the diagram below is a key tabiya in the Reversed Benoni setup. Two games played this month took original turns from here:

From the diagram position, Artemiev, V - Korobov, A continued with the rare 10...Bd6!?. Black threatens 11...e5 right away but allows White to trade a wing pawn for a central pawn with the sequence 11 Nxd4 Nxd4 12 Bxd4 Bxg3 13 hxg3 Qxd4. Korobov’s idea is interesting, but the follow up 14...Ng4 left his queenside development lagging. White crashed through with the powerful exchange sacrifice 18 Rxe5!.

Again from the previous diagram, McShane, L - Eljanov, P instead saw the normal 10...Re8, after which White went for the uncommon 11 Ne5!? leading to the following position after the trade of knights:

If the rook retreats, then Black secures the centre with 13...e5, so McShane now uncorked the exchange sacrifice 13 Bxd4!. White got decent compensation, although it only turned into more after the over-ambitious 17...e4. Black generated scary looking play on the kingside, but McShane came up with an ingenious way of dealing with the threats, while mobilizing his queenside majority.

Mikenas Attack 3...d5 4 cxd5, 7 d3 [A18]

The line 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e6 3 e4 d5 4 cxd5 exd5 5 e5 Ne4 6 Nf3 Bf5 7 d3 has been the centre of a theoretical debate over the last two years. White wants to force the trade of knights without allowing the pin that occurs after 7 d4 Bb4. After 7...Nxc3 8 bxc3 c5 9 d4 Black is now at an important crossroads:

Several Updates in 2018 examined the moves 9...c4 and 9...Qa5, while in this month’s Wang Hao - Esipenko, A, Black chose the logical developing move 9...Nc6. Black varied from earlier games on move 14, and equalized after accurate play. The ball is now in White’s court to explore possible improvements.

King’s English, Keres System 4 d4 e4 [A20]

In the Keres System after 1 c4 e5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 c6 4 d4 the space-gaining thrust 4...e4 has been played several times by Vishy Anand, and in So, W - Anand, V, he gave it another outing. Wesley So responded with 5 Bg5 intending to trade the f6-knight on the next move:

After 5...d5 6 Bxf6 White's idea is to intensify the pressure against the d5-pawn and shore up his own centre with e2-e3. The downside for White is that his g2-bishop has little scope unless White can open lines for this piece. In the game, Black secured a firm grip on the light squares, and solved his opening problems, although White has several possible improvements to examine.

Carlsen, M - Ding Liren featured another rare choice with 5 Qb3:

After 5...d5 6 Nc3 Black took up the challenge with the critical 6...dxc4 7 Qxc4 b5 and 8...Qxd4, grabbing the offered pawn. Black was soon for choice after 10 Bd2 Qxb3, but 10 Qc2 is an important possible improvement.

King’s English, 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Bb4 3 Nd5 a5 [A21]

Gorodetzky, A - Moiseenko, A started calmly enough with the topical opening 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Bb4 3 Nd5 a5 4 Nf3. Now after 4...e4 we have reached a fairly fresh position, with less than 40 games in the database. Here, however, White unleashed an early novelty with 5 Ng5!?, leaving the knight hanging:

It is debatable whether this is better than the usual 5 Nd4, but the surprise value seemed to spark the players into playing an insane game! In the cold light of day, Black should choose between moves such as 5...c6 and 5...f5, but instead he was tempted into the dubious 5...Qxg5. On the other hand, White didn’t find the most accurate follow up, and by move 10, both the a8-rook and the h1-rook had disappeared from the board! After an up and down game, and just when it seemed a drawn endgame had been reached, Black erred last and fell to a study-like finish.

King’s English, Four Knights 4 e3 d5 [A28]

In the 4 e3 Four Knights after 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e5 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 e3, we have looked at the mainline 4...Bb4 many times on this site. Entering a reversed open Sicilian with 4...d5 has been rarely seen at the highest level, but Mamedyarov faced this move twice at the Norway Chess tournament. Both games reached the following position after the flexible 8...Bd7:

After 9 0-0 0-0, Shakh’s 10 Nd2 was a new move. Mamedyarov-Caruana now saw 10...Na5 while the later game Mamedyarov, S - Grischuk, A varied with 10...Qh4. Black held both times, but this new line is quite rich in content and there are a lot of options for future games to explore.

I hope you enjoy this update!

Until next month, David.

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