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In this Update we look at several lines where White uses a Flank Opening move order to side-step a Grünfeld, but Black in turn avoids transposition to a King’s Indian. In other words, the anti-anti-Grünfeld! Most notable is Daniil Dubov’s gambit line played against Anish Giri, but we also examine other variations involving some combination of ...g7-g6 and ...e7-e5.

Download PGN of June ’19 Flank Openings games

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Anti-Grünfeld 1 c4 g6 2 e4 e5 3 d4 Nf6 [A10]

Our first “AAG” example starts with 1 c4 g6 2 e4 (ruling out the Grünfeld) 2...e5 (avoiding a mainline King’s Indian or Modern) 3 d4 with the critical line continuing 3...Nf6 4 Nf3 exd4 5 e5:

Here 5...Bb4+ is a solid choice, while 5...Ne4 is Black's sharpest and most popular move. Now Berczes, D - Rohan, A continued with 6 Qxd4 Bb4+ 7 Kd1! White’s 7th move became well-known after the 2016 game Potkin-Wei Yi, and it is time to catch up with the latest theoretical developments.

Réti Opening vs. Semi-Slav setup [A13]

The game Bacrot, E - Gukesh, D was an intriguing match-up between former and current holders of the title of youngest Grandmaster in the world. White’s double fianchetto opening was met by a semi-Slav setup:

In the diagram position, White has to decide whether to play 8 d4, or allow Black to create a pawn centre, and then fight against it. Bacrot chose the latter path with 8 Nc3 while with 8...e5, Gukesh continued with the most principled, central moves. In the game Black equalized comfortably, but White has chances to improve along the way.

Réti Opening, Reversed Benoni [A13]

In the Reversed Benoni setup after 1 c4 e6 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 d5 4 Nf3 d4, White's most common approach is play an early e2-e3 followed by e3xd4. Instead Donchenko, A - Oleksienko, M. saw the rather unusual idea 5 d3 c5 6 e4!?:

This position has been reached in only a handful of games, but was played twice by Donchenko at the French team championships. The structure is a kind of hybrid of a Réti and King's Indian attack, and leads to a strategically complex game. Food for thought for Réti players!

Anti-Grünfeld 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 e5 [A16]

The move order 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 is a common anti-Grünfeld move order, and in the vast majority of games Black now transposes to a King’s Indian with 4...d6. In Giri, A - Dubov, D, however, Black unleashed 4...e5, and after 5 Nxe5 made it a real gambit with 5...0-0!?:

White kept his extra pawn, but over the board was not able to find a way to consolidate. With White’s king stuck in the centre, Black developed a dangerous initiative.

King’s English, Reversed Dragon 6 e3 [A22]

In the FIDE Grand Prix game Aronian, L - Nepomniachtchi, I, White was in a must-win situation, and so went for the sharp and provocative line 1 c4 e5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Nc3 Nb6 6 e3. Black in turn raised the stakes with 6...Nc6 7 Nge2 Qd3!?:

Black’s 7th is a rare move, which we last examined on this site a few years ago. Black tries to create immediate disruption on the weakened light squares in White’s position, while White will try to oust the queen and wrest control of the centre. Although improvements are possible for both sides, this line appears to hold up fairly well for Black.

King’s English, 2...Nc6, 3...f5 [A25]

Safarli, E - Amin, B featured an interesting battle in the reversed Grand Prix Attack that occurs after 1 c4 e5 2 g3 Nc6 3 Bg2 f5 4 Nc3 Nf6 5 d3 Bb4:

After 6 Bd2 0-0, White’s 7 Nd5!?, offering the trade of dark squared bishops, is a little uncommon. Safarli continued creatively with 10 f4!? and 14 0-0-0, although the resulting middlegame was dynamically balanced.

King’s English, 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Nf3 g6 [A27]

Smith, A - Naiditsch, A saw another variation on our theme of ...e7-e5 combined with ...g7-g6 after the opening moves 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Nf3 g6 4 d4:

In this version, White has not committed to e2-e4, so after 4...exd4 5 Nxd4 Bg7 6 Nxc6 bxc6 7 g3 is logical since the g2-bishop will get an open diagonal. In this line, Black has to be alert to avoid falling into a passive position, and Naiditsch secured active counterplay starting with 10...h6, offering a pawn sacrifice for pressure against White’s queenside.

King’s English, Four Knights 4 e4 g6 [A28]

Anton Guijarro, M - Sevian, S opened with the topical 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 e4, and now Sevian deviated from his recent game against Nakamura (see the April 2019 Update) with 4...g6:

It is worth noting that this position can also be reached via the "Anti-Grünfeld" move order 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 g6 3 e4 e5 4 Nf3 and now 4...Nc6 reaches the above position, while 4...Bg7 is the pawn sac analyzed in Giri-Dubov above.

The featured game continued 5 d4 exd4 6 Nxd4 Bg7 and now after 7 Nxc6 dxc6 the position strangely morphed into a Berlin-style endgame. If this is not to White’s taste, he can also explore the alternative 7th moves.

I hope you enjoy this update!

Until next month, David.

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