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Alex informed me that he has decided to stop doing his Flank updates, and so I'd like to thank him for all his work over this last year. I thoroughly enjoyed his excellent annotations and all the insights into the lines he covered.
I figured it was time for me to do some more writing anyway, annotating theoretical games is a good way for a chessplayer to keep on top of the latest developments in his favourite openings.
Alex is a bit of a globetrotter, and constantly seems to be travelling from one open to another, but we actually met up while we both playing in the French Team Championships - he was playing for Montpellier and his wife, Nino, made a fantastic result for my team, Bischwiller. This super strong tournament, with mostly professional teams, forms the backbone of this update.

Download PGN of June '14 Flank Openings games

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Réti Anti-Dutch 2 d3 [A04]

I used the 1 Nf3, Réti move order quite a lot in Saint-Quentin (nothing to do with the prison, it's a small town in North-Eastern France), it offers the advantage of stopping 1...e5, but commits White to playing lines with the knight on f3, of course.

One other benefit is that White can play d3 and e4 against the Dutch, and I'm starting this update with another look at this tempting Anti-Dutch line, 1 Nf3 f5 2 d3 d6 3 e4 e5 4 Nc3:

First up, Lalic - Rendle where Black plays the interesting 4...c5, stopping White opening the position with d4. Many thanks to Bogdan for his notes, and I've added a bit of text to his analysis.

Ten years ago I remember annotating a crushing victory from the young and almost unknown Magnus Carlsen which featured the line 4 Nc3 Nc6 5 exf5 Bxf5 6 d4 exd4 7 Nxd4 Nxd4 8 Qxd4 Nf6 9 Bc4! c6 10 Bg5:

So I was very interested when I watched the game Vachier Lagrave-Vaisser, which featured the new move 10...h6. The game was a horrible massacre, but Maxime is now in the World's top ten and I don't believe there is anyone who calculates better than he does.

I've had a good look at the various alternatives in the notes, and was surprised to see that Black's position is actually quite playable, objectively. He has to be very well prepared, though, and in practise White tends to win very quickly.

Réti 2...d4 3 b4 f6, 6 Qa4+ [A09]

Demuth - Duda features the sharp, and critical, variation 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 d4 3 b4 f6 4 e3 e5 5 c5 a5, and now 6 Qa4+:

This is beginning to look more and more like White's best try. Alex covered the alternatives in January, but there have been a few games since then, and I've rounded these up in the notes - Delchev's 6 Bb5+ is definitely dubious, and I've included the key games and Reinhold Thiele's excellent original analysis.

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

After 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e6 3 e4 d5 4 e5 d4 5 exf6 dxc3 6 bxc3 Qxf6 7 d4 e5 8 Nf3, seeing the move 8...Nc6! in Bunzmann - Riazantsev brought back bad memories of my loss to Wesley So in the same event a couple of years previously.

Time to have another look at this, and most importantly the games played during the last two years. 9 Bg5 Qg6 10 d5 still looks best, but there are unanswered questions here, see my fairly detailed notes.

The game went 9 Nxe5 Nxe5 10 Qe2, which is not the best line, but Dimitrij plays very little these days (we actually played each other in the first round, but were both very rusty and so got into severe mutual time trouble ... although the game was quite fun!) Following 10...Be7! White got into a terrible mess and Black won convincingly.

King's English 2 g3, 4...Bc5 5 a3 [A25]

After 1 c4 e5 2 g3 Nc6 3 Bg2 Nf6 4 Nc3 Bc5, Marin (in his GM Repertoire book) considers the move 5 a3 dubious, and prefers 5 Nf3, transposing to a 4...Bc5 Four Knights (see below). I don't agree with this, as, for one thing, after 5 a3 a6 White can always play, say, 6 d3 d6 7 Nf3 h6 8 O-O O-O 9 b4 Ba7 10 Bb2 anyway, reaching Marin's main position.

Anyway, in the last round game Kosten - Velten I was very happy to play 5 a3 with White as I've always liked these positions, and it meant I didn't have to do very much preparation (this game was played in the morning).

In reply my opponent preferred 5...a5, and the game continued 6 e3 d6 7 Nge2 O-O 8 O-O Bf5 9 d4 Ba7 10 h3, with a fairly typical position:

I went on to gain a large positional advantage and later the game 'won itself'. I hope this will make Forum member 'hicetnunc' happy, as he asked for more 'practical' games, although me describing this as 'pro against strong amateur' would be very unfair on my young opponent, who is a very strong IM.

Four Knights 4 e3, 6 bxc3 [A28]

Gajewski - Volokitin featured the interesting recapture 6 bxc3!?:

Suba consistently used this line over more than 30 years, although not with particularly good results, and Danny King once played it against me many years ago.

In this particular game the mercurial Gajewski played a brilliant series of moves to conjure up a winning attack, but somehow Andrei managed to draw, and so my team just managed to scrape a victory in this crucial 'derby' match. Don't miss it!

Four Knights 4 g3 Bc5 Karpov Variation [A29]

The Karpov Variation was very popular in this team event, and scored well for Black. I've rounded up all the other games in the notes to Istratescu - Navara, which featured the interesting 10...Nd4:

Later Navara played a clever queen sacrifice to draw.

Rubinstein's Variation 8 b3 [A34]

8 Ne1 was my recommendation in 'Dynamic English', but I started having doubts about leaving the kingside less well defended, and so I turned to the mainline 8 d3 in my games. However, then a few days ago I saw the sparkling game Aronian - Svidler, which went 8 b3 Be7 9 Bb2 O-O 10 Rc1 f6, and only now 11 Ne1:

followed by Nd3 and f4. A transposition into 8 Ne1 lines is likely, while at the same time Black's most dangerous options have been avoided.

Till next time, Tony.

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