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Greetings, fellow Flank devotees, I sincerely hope this update finds you well. First off, I must apologize for this somewhat late post. Secondly, due to work commitments, this will unfortunately be my last column for the foreseeable future.

Download PGN of March '13 Flank Openings games

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Réti - 1.c4 c6 with g3, 4...dxc4 [A11]

I recently showed a win I had on the White side of the Anti-Slav, so I was probably due for some punishment with the other color! Thus, Dziuba - Bartholomew saw 1. c4 c6 2.g3 d5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Bg2 dxc4 5.O-O Bf5!?:

My opponent caught me by surprise with his opening choice, and I decided to try this unusual line (which I had analyzed in the August 2012 update). However, after 6.a4 e6 7.Na3 I neglected to take my own advice(!) and erred with 7...Qd5?!. Dziuba quickly obtained a huge initiative. See if you can find his neat shot:

English Defence with ...g6 [A15]

The next two games feature a line that is growing in popularity: 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 b6 3.g3 Bb7 4.Bg2 g6:

I have to admit that I knew nothing of the existence of this system until a month or two ago. Thus, I was surprised to learn that many Grandmaster have been giving it a try of late! Essentially, Black is aiming for a super-flexible Double Fianchetto by holding off on any pawn advance in the center. It's an unabashedly hypermodern approach, and it's been seen since at least the early 1920s. Following 5.0-0 Bg7 6.Nc3 0-0 7.d4 (what else?) 7...Ne4 we are at a crossroads:

a) Putka - Wojtaszek saw White try the ambitious 8.Qc2 Nxc3 9.bxc3!?. However, by move 16 Wojtaszek was clearly in control:

Here the Polish Grandmaster opened the center in his favor with 16...e6!.

b) Frois - Maiorov demonstrates how easily Black may obtain a good game against mechnical play from White, after 8.Bd2 d6 9.Nxe4 Bxe4 10.Rc1 Nd7 11.Bc3 e6 12.Qd2 Nf6 13.Rfd1 Bb7:

Black experiences no problems.

Pseudo-Grünfeld [A16]

Jones - Areshchenko revisits the unbalanced line 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.cxd5 Nxd5 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Nb6 6.d3 Bg7 7.Be3 Nc6 8.Bxc6+ bxc6:

Players who are uncomfortable operating with a shattered pawn structure should definitely avoid this line for Black!

Mikenas Attack 3...d5 [A18]

The line 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.e5 d4 5.exf6 dxc3 6.bxc3 Qxf6 7.d4 e5 8.Nf3 exd4 9.Bg5 Qe6+ 10.Be2 Be7 has been heavily explored:

Now in Vachier Lagrave - Ris the Frenchman opted for a fresh perspective with 11.Nxd4!? instead of the usual continuation 11.cxd4 Bxg5 12.Nxg5. He soon gained a large advantage thanks to a powerful 'quiet' move:

Here 20.h3! netted White a key pawn in view of the 21.Bg4 threat.

Symmetrical - Double Fianchetto [A30]

Black has been scoring exceptionally well in the main lines of the Double Fianchetto, and Monroy - Vazquez Igarza is no exception. 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.g3 b6 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.Nc3 g6 6.d4 cxd4 7.Qxd4 Bg7 8.0-0 d6 9.Rd1 Nbd7 10.Be3 Rc8 11.Rac1 a6 12.b3 0-0 13.Qh4 Rc7 14.Bh3 Qb8:

Here 15.Bg5 is a relatively recent try, but the thematic 15...b5! secured Black certain counterplay. Vazquez Igarza went on to win in instructive style.

Three Knights 4.e3 [A35]

Anish Giri chose a rare continuation in Giri - Smith, but failed to achieve more than an equal ending, after 1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e3 Nf6 5.d4 cxd4 6.exd4 d5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qb3 Nxc3 9.Bc4 Nd5 10.Bxd5 e6 11.Bxc6+ bxc6 12.0-0 Qd5 13.Be3!?:

Instead we had previously examined 13.Qc3 and 13.Qxd5 in this important position. Following 13...Qxb3 14.axb3 Bb7 15.Rfc1 Bd6 16.Ne5 Smith guided the game to a level ending with 16...Ke7!, but unfortunately went on to lose.

That's a wrap! Thank you all for reading my annotations over the past couple of years, and I hope to be back in a guest columnist capacity in the not so distant future. Good luck and keep the spirit of the Flank openings alive! John

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