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This month's update runs the gamut of Flank lines, from the Bird to some highly theoretical Symmetrical English openings.

Download PGN of November '12 Flank Openings games

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Bird's Opening - 1.f4 d5 [A03]

In Schnelzer - Andersson we see Ulf Andersson meeting 1.f4 in his usual fine intuitive style: 1...Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 d5 5.0-0 0-0 6.d3 c5:

We now have a main-line Leningrad Dutch with colors reversed. The only difference is that Black has yet to play ...Nb8-c6, so he's effectively a tempo behind. Funnily, this hasn't helped White much in practice (Black even scores fractionally better in this tempo-down version). The game continued 7.Qe1 d4 8.c3 Nc6 9.Na3 and here Andersson played 9...Rb8!?, a useful move that prepares ...b7-b5. He goes on to win a fine opposite-color bishop game.

Nimzo-English 4.g4 [A17]

The Nimzo-English with 4.g4 rose to prominence 10-15 years ago and still produces unbalanced encounters. In Fridman - Meins Black chooses a positional continuation that may appeal to many Nimzo players: 1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 Bb4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g4

Now 4...h6 has proven to be Black's preferred method of countering the g-pawn spike. Following 5.Rg1 Black made the fundamentally sound decision to play 5...Bxc3!?, making good on his positional threat before White has a chance to play 6.Qc2. White obtained some advantage, but Black retained a very resilient position.

King's English - 1.c4 e5 2.g3 [A20]

Soffer - Belousov features a new position by move four! Behold: 1.c4 e5 2.g3 h5!?:

This is the tenth(!) most popular move in this position (53 games out of 16,000+) and never previously explored on Of course there's no established theory on this, so White has met Black's last move in a number of different ways. Here White reacted with 3.d4?! (principled, yet unconvincing), but after 3...exd4 4.Nf3 (a novelty) 4...h4! Black soon stood better. We discuss various ways White can play on move three to counter the audacious 2...h5!?.

Symmetrical - Double Fianchetto [A30]

In recent months White has been pinning his theoretical hopes in the Double Fianchetto on 1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 g6 6.0-0 Bg7 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 d6 9.Rd1 Nbd7 10.Be3 Rc8 11.Rac1 0-0 12.Qh4 a6 13.b3 Rc7 14.Bh3 Qb8 15.g4. Now after 15...e6 16.g5 Kovalyov - Van Wely saw 16...Nh5?!:

Sidelining the knight when Bh3-g4 is possible is somewhat suspicious. Interestingly. Van Wely actually encountered this move (a novelty at the time) from the White side in a 2004 win over Grischuk.

Symmetric - Hedgehog [A30]

The move order 6...a6 7.Re1 d6 8.e4 Nbd7 9.d4 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Qc7 has been considered faulty because of the knight sacrifice 11.Nd5!?:

However, everything must be verified in the silicon era, so we give 11.Nd5 a rigorous examination in Lalith - Stany.

Pure Symmetrical - 5.Nf3 other Black 5th moves [A37]

Most players know that Nf3-e1-c2-e3-d5 is a key maneuver for White in the Botvinnik System. Shockingly, Black often sits back and allows this to happen! 1.c4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.0-0 e5 7.a3 a5 8.Ne1:

Now in Heberla - Juptner Black continued with the innocent 8...Nge7?!, a move that has been played by Gelfand, Polgar, Sokolov, etc. Unfortunately, after 9.Nc2 Be6 10.Ne3 Black could no longer achieve the thematic ...d6-d5 break and had to put up with a monster White knight on d5.

Molina - Almeida Quintana deals with a long line that has recently become popular again: 1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 d6 6.0-0 e5 7.d3 Nge7 8.a3 0-0 9.Rb1 a5 10.Bd2 h6 11.Ne1 Be6 12.Nc2 d5 13.cxd5 Nxd5 14.Ne3 Nde7 15.Na4! (probably the only move to cause Black problems) 15...b6 16.b4 cxb4 17.axb4 b5 18.Nc5 Ba2:

Here White essayed the exchange sacrifice 19.bxa5!, a concept that was tested as early as 2003. After 19...Bxb1 20.Qxb1 Black has a few different options, but I think Almeida Quintana's 20...Nd4! is the most accurate. Black can equalize with accurate play.

Pure Symmetrical - 5.Nf3 Nf6 [A38]

White has had difficulties proving a theoretical advantage in the Symmetric line 1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.g3 d5. In Halkias - Biriukov the Greek grandmaster shows how White may want to play against the kingside fianchetto: 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 g6 7.d3 Bg7 8.Bd2 0-0 9.0-0 Nc7 10.Rc1 b6

Black is practically unassailable on the queenside, so Halkias played 11.h4!?, probing for weaknesses on the kingside. Pushing the h-pawn was also the prelude to a nifty attacking idea in the middlegame.

Until next time, John

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