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Reversed Benoni [A14]
I arrived quite early for the final weekend in the British Team Championships and, while waiting for the pairings, had a look at the bookstore, and after quickly flicking through Delchev's "The Modern Réti: An Anti-Slav Repertoire" decided to buy it - after all John had given it quite a glowing commendation a couple of updates ago.
By chance my first opponent played the line 1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. b3 c5 7. e3 Nc6 8. Bb2 d4:
and after 9. exd4 cxd4 10. Re1 Re8 11. d3 Bf8 I decided to play a line Delchev recommends ... rather than the line I myself suggested in DW- Flank, both to avoid any possible preparation and to try to get my money's worth!
Well, to see how that went (although I can tell you I was a little disappointed), and the interesting improvement my opponent had prepared, play through Kosten, A - Townsend, M.
King's English Reversed Dragon [A22/29]
One of the 'problem lines' for the English Opening is the Reversed Dragon, as White's advantage in the main lines seems to be close to nothing, so I have spent some time looking for promising alternative ideas for White over the years.
Recently I decided to play the variation 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nb6 7. O-O Be7 8. d3 O-O 9. a4 a5 10. Be3 Be6 11. Bxb6 cxb6:
White has conceded the bishop pair but has weakened Black's queenside pawns, he has nice outposts on b5 and c4 for his knights, while Black has b4. White intends the simple plan of putting his queen's knight on b5, the other one on c4 via d2, Rc1, maybe b3, then e3, Qe2, Rfd1 and finally d4, producing a strong passed pawn.
Now, I really don't think this gives White any objective advantage against correct defence, but it is probably no worse than other lines and fairly easy to play.
What's this line doing in the King's English section, I hear you cry! Well, a few weeks ago I realised (over the board) that I could also play this 'Anti-Reversed Dragon' system against the Pseudo-Grünfeld, and it is probably even better here!
See Kosten, A - Griffiths, R for all the details.
Symmetrical - Botvinnik System [A36/37]
The King's Indian Defence is another problem for the English Opening player, as his best line is clearly to play d4 and transpose into a mainline KID! However, studying all the necessary theory is not really what we want, and lack of experience in the resulting structures can also be a problem - I remember getting totally outplayed by Mark Hebden one time when I unwisely took him on in a Fianchetto System ... and soon had to resort to 'swindle mode'!
Anyway, my main anti-KID system is the Botvinnik line. At first I played this in situations where I could afford to draw because it is solid and I didn't think I could lose. However I soon realised that my opponents didn't really know how to play it properly as Black (especially the younger ones) and so I tried it more and more, with excellent results.
Nevertheless, I have always been aware that Black can equalise fairly effortlessly if he does know what he is doing, with a well-timed ...b5 for instance. Have a look at the unpublished game Kosten, A - Foisor, C, where Black could even afford to play for the win without any great risk.
Another good variation for Black is Mark Hebden's pet line 11...e5!?:
Mark is almost the only player who uses this line regularly as Black but it has been gaining him points for almost 20 years. See Romero Holmes, A - Hebden, M for my thoughts.
Finally, many thanks to Richard for analysing his exciting win in Ghasi, A - Palliser, R, where this time it is Black who plays the Botvinnik structure (although the difference of one move with the previous games is in point of fact almost completely unimportant) and you should find his discussion of the various themes and plans very enlightening.
Soon I will be going to Belfort to take part in the super-strong French Teams Championships which runs for 11 days, and I'm hoping to be able to keep a check on the hot lines there, and also hope to be able to put my Delchev book to good use!
Until next time, Tony
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