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This month I couldn't find any new games of great theoretical importance but I was impressed by a nice win with the King's Indian Attack by former author Andrew Martin, and decided to base my update around it.

Download PGN of March '11 Flank Openings games

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Réti King's Indian Attack v Capablanca System [A07]

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.0-0 Bg4:

Martin - Weller was a classic example of using flank openings to tap into superior positional understanding and I recommend a careful study of this game.

White does seem to have a slight advantage in this line if Black captures on e4, more critical questions arise if Black maintains the tension. In Kamsky - Robson White essentially avoided the issue by just trundling out his pieces. Robson's 16...Ncxe4! looks new and good:

but he lost his way shortly thereafter.

Minasian - Tomashevsky tested the critical line with 9.exd5 followed by 10.c4:

with Black appearing to be well prepared as he went straight down the main line. White's 20.Bxb7?? was astonishing, a blunder in a known position. Certainly it should make amateurs wonder about the reality of GM opening preparation.

If Black captures on f3 after 5.h3 an intriguing possibility is 6.exf3:

I think the correct plan for Black after this is a kingside fianchetto (Littlewood - Davies from 1977!), developing the bishop on d6 or c5 gives White more chances of generating pressure in the middle game. Hodgson - Sofrigin was a strange game in which a degree of bluff by White appeared to finally push Black over the time limit. My take on this is that White should probably delay or omit d3-d4 as after this Black gets counterplay with ...c6-c5.

If White delays castling and instead plays 4.d3, he can meet Black's 4...Bg4 with 5.h3 and then hunt down Black's bishop should it retreat to h5 by g4 and Nh4:

I've used this plan in several of my own games (for example Davies - Chandler) and it calls for alert handling by Black. In Hodgson - Short Black sleepwalked into a massive attack by routinely castling kingside; this has to be one of the worst ever losses by the future World Championship contender.

Morozevich - Harikrishna doesn't prove much except that one should not necessarily play the same moves as people with high ratings. I really don't like White's 10.Nd2 in this game as it's not clear where the rest of White's pieces should go:

Morozevich finally won but this had more to do with his demonic tactical ability rather than the particular merits of his position.

That's all for this month! Nigel Davies

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