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Despite its modest appearance 1.g3 has been played by some of the greatest players in history. Leonid Stein, Victor Korchnoi and Bent Larsen were all regular exponents of this move, no doubt liking the possibility of throwing their opponents on their own resources. I have also played this opening move with some regularity.

Download PGN of June '10 Flank Openings games

1.g3 [A00]

The benefits of playing 1.g3 are manifold. Whilst it is an eminantly sound opening move (1...g6 is, after all, quite playable for Black) there are no books or DVDs on it that I know of. Whilst there are many transpositional possibilities into more regular openings there is a huge scope for originality.

The first four games in this month's update are devoted to what can only be described as Reversed Modern/Pirc formations. Bilek - Geller is an example of a Reversed Modern Defence in which White would have done much better were it not for his 9.Kh2 and then subsequent reluctance to bring the king back to g1. Stein - Book was a rather happier game for White which exploited Black's 4...Bg4 and then nervy looking 5...Bf5.

In my own game, Davies - Lev, Black tried to exploit White's 'Modern Attack' with 5...Ne7, trying to keep the f-pawn free to advance:

Whilst there is much logic to this approach Black's game certain contains a number of responsibilities. Both sides have improvements but I believe that White's chances are better.

Stein - Averbakh featured a reversed Pirc Defence with White using his extra tempo to play 5.c4:

I'm unconvinced that White had much in this game (11...Raxd8 appears to be equal for Black) but it nevertheless demands consideration.

The other line considered this month is 1.g3 g6 2.Bg2 Bg7 3.Nc3!?, as featured in four Larsen games against Gheorghiu, Calvo, Lehmann and Panno:

After playing 5.f4 against Larsen - Gheorghiu he switched to the more flexible 5.a3 in Larsen - Calvo and Larsen - Lehmann and I tend to think it is a more unpleasant move for Black to meet. There again Black probably just does better to play 3...e5 as Panno did in Larsen - Panno.

There are plenty of other features to 1.g3 which I will try to explore in subsequent updates. It's an interesting way to open the game which throws both players on their own resources.

That's all for this month! Nigel Davies


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