ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Hi everyone!
This month there were high-level Flank Opening encounters in the German Bundesliga, and some caveman chess played in strong Open tournaments!

Download PGN of March ’16 Flank Openings games

>> Previous Update >>

Réti Opening 6...Nc6 [A07]

In the Réti/King's Indian Attack setup after 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 e6 4 0-0 Be7 5 d3 0-0 6 Nbd2 the move 6...Nc6 is a pet line of Levon Aronian, which he has employed in a string of recent games across all time controls.

In the Bundesliga clash Rapport - Aronian, White played 7 d4, which Kramnik also ventured against Aronian in this month's Zurich tournament. White spends a second tempo getting the d-pawn to the d4-square, arguing that Black's c6-knight is then badly placed. Aronian emerged from the opening with a complex but balanced game, but was later outplayed by Rapport.

Réti Opening 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 g6 [A07]

Erdos - Adams featured the topical line 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 g6 3 Bg2 Bg7 4 c4 dxc4 5 Qa4+ Nc6 6 0-0 e5:

Here White launched a tactical sequence starting with 7 Nxe5 but Adams' response was very accurate and showed how Black can equalize by concrete means. White will need to revisit slower lines such as 7 Qxc4 to try and find gain an edge here.

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

At the Aeroflot Open, Potkin - Wei Yi saw an anti-Grünfeld line that has had a number of high-level outings in recent years. After 1 c4 g6 2 e4 e5 3 d4 Nf6 4 Nf3 exd4 5 e5 Ne4 6 Qxd4 Bb4+, instead of the standard 7 Nbd2 Potkin unleashed the extraordinary king move 7 Kd1!?:

White's point is that his king is surprisingly safe while Black's king will also be exposed after the forced 7...f5 8 exf6. Potkin soon got an advantage but both players started to use oceans of time and traded inaccuracies, before Wei Yi made the final mistake. Clearly there is a lot to explore here and I'm sure we will see more of 7 Kd1.

Réti Opening Lasker's System [A11]

Svidler - Smeets was another Réti Opening and here Black employed the solid 4...Bf5 line that continues to be a popular choice, endorsed by the likes of Tomashevsky. The players reached this position after 9 Bf4:

Svidler's 9th move delayed Nb1-c3, saving a tempo to quickly put a rook on c1 opposite Black's queen, before later initiating play in the centre with Nf3-e5 and e2-e4. White secured a nagging edge as Smeets never fully equalized.

Réti Double Fianchetto v QGD setup [A14]

In the double fianchetto line after 1 c4 e6 2 g3 d5 3 Bg2 Nf6 4 Nf3 Be7 5 0-0 0-0 6 b3 c5 7 Bb2 Nc6, the trend is for White to exchange on d5 rather than employ the traditional move 8 e3. Indeed Van Kampen-Wojtaszek saw 8 cxd5 Nxd5 9 d4:

White's hopes for a slight advantage are based on his better placed light-squared bishop which applies pressure down the h1-a8 diagonal. Despite multiple exchanges, Wojtaszek found himself with an unpleasant defensive task, although his blunder on move 21 cut the game short. In the notes I review how Black can try and equalize earlier on.

King's English 2...Bb4 [A21]

1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Bb4 continues to have a loyal following, and in Grigoryan - Volkov, we take a look at 3 Nd5 and now 3...Bc5 which has become Black's most popular 3rd move here:

After 4 e3 Nf6, White tried the comparatively rare 5 Nf3, followed by a later d2-d4 hitting the c5-bishop. Grigoryan eventually secured the two bishops and more space, and squeezed his opponent for a long time. Still, this is a resilient opening for Black and in the notes I explore potential improvements.

Symmetrical English, Rubinstein Variation [A34]

Gurevich - Iturrizaga saw the tried and tested Rubinstein variation 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 c5 3 g3 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Bg2 Nc7 and here Gurevich employed 6 Qb3 which had served him well in the past. After 6...Nd7 7 Nf3 e5 8 0-0 Be7 9 e3 we reach this position:

This was a crucial last round encounter at Cappelle la Grande. In these situations players often proceed cautiously, but here Iturrizaga threw caution to the wind and lashed out with the new move 9...f5?!, followed by the wild 10 e4 f4 11 gxf4 exf4 12 d4 g5. As I show in the notes, objectively White can refute Black's early kingside demonstration. In the complications and heat of battle however, White was provoked into sacrificing a piece and Black's bravery was eventually rewarded with a win.

Pure Symmetrical Main Line 8...d6 [A39]

In the Pure Symmetrical after 1 c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nc3 Nc6 4 g3 g6 5 d4 cxd4 6 Nxd4 Bg7 7 Bg2 0-0 8 0-0, the gambit line starting with 8...d6 is a sharp alternative to the main line 8...Nxd4 which tends to grant White a slight edge in practice. Melkumyan - Navara continued 9 Nxc6 bxc6 10 Bxc6 Rb8 11 Bg2 Qa5 reaching a tabiya for this line:

Both players have experience of this position, with Melkumyan having played it at least 5 times in the last year or so, but from the Black side! In a concrete theoretical battle, Navara found a way to simplify to an endgame which he was able to hold with his excellent technique.

I hope you enjoy this Update!

Until next month, David.

>> Previous Update >>

To contact the author please go to the Flank Openings Forum, or subscribers can write directly to