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Given the way that World Championship matches tend to set fashions I would not be surprised if Anand's 11.Ne4 (in game 11) will set something of a fashion. For this reason I will be devoting some attention to it in this month's edition.

Download PGN of May '10 Flank Openings games

The Reversed Dragon [A29]

English Opening, 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nb6 7. O-O Be7 8. a3 O-O 9. b4 Be6 10. d3 f6 11. Ne4:

Topalov MUST have been surprised, not just because of the rarity of 11.Ne4 but also because of Anand's adoption of the English Opening in the first place. So the odds are that his 11...Qe8 (Anand - Topalov) was perspiration rather than inspiration:

White was a bit better in a tough struggle.

The critical reply to 11.Ne4 is 11...a5, and after 12.Nc5 Bxc5 13.bxc5 Nd5 I like Uhlmann's 14.Bb2 (Uhlmann - Jackova) but only if he follows up logically with 15.Qd2:

I'm still not sure this is that great for White, though it does have the ring of truth, or at least consistency.

I'm less convinced by the natural but inoffensive 14.Qc2 of Miezes - Danin. White need not have lost this game but chose to throw himself energetically against a brick wall.

The game Berkes - Munoz features 11...Qd7 which has been played a few times but doesn't impress me much:

White should be slightly better in this line.

Closed English Opening, early Rb1 [A25]

Jean Luc Chabanon sent in his interesting game against Godard this month, and seeing that there has been little coverage of this line I thought I'd pay it some attention. I suspect that Black should play 9...0-0 instead of Godard's 9...Bf5:

though White is probably always going to be a tiny bit better in these strategically complex positions by virtue of his extra space, see the exciting Game 5.

5.Rb1 will often lead to the same positions that 5.d3 d6 6.Rb1 does and Davies - Sadler was very similar by virtue of Black's development of his king's knight on e7. Maybe I should have chosen 10.e3, which would create an even greater similarity to Chabanon - Godard, though my 10.Nf3 seemed slightly better for White until Sadler started to use talent on me!

Some books have explored the possibility of ...Nf6 followed by ...Nc6-e7 for Black after an early Rb1 by White, and this is featured in Ivanov - Razuvaev:

White should have played 10.d4 here, and earlier he could have played 7.d3 or 7.e4. But this plan should definitely be noted.

Davies - Tebb is an example of the same theme with the game looking like a nice thematic win for White, at least on the surface. But there is a major issue in that Black could have played 11...d5! with what looks like an advantage. These positions are far from easy to play.

That's all for this month! Nigel Davies


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