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A European month! Jobava continues trying unclear and new positions in the 1.b3 line during the European club championship, and afterwards we can see various different interesting ideas in the European team championship in Poland.

Download PGN of November '13 Flank Openings games

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Larsen's Opening 1 b3 e5, 5 Na3 [A01]

Jobava had one more success with 1.b3 and this time against a 2700 player in Jobava - Jakovenko.

Here 5...Be7 is not played so often (5...e4 is kind of critical lately and 5...Na5 is the mainline) and after some natural moves White already had a pleasant position. Maybe 9...c5 is already not the best, but it's nice to see how much poison there is in White's position.

Larsen's Opening/Bird's 1 b3, 2...Bg4 3 f3 [A03]

Jobava is a player with a lot of new ideas in the openings and for more than one year he is playing 1.b3 with quite decent results. In this game he transposes to a Bird style position and introduces 8.h3 instead of the normal plans with Be2:

Navara tries to exploit it and the position was quite interesting. I would prefer 11.Rxf1 to castle queenside, but the variation from the game is also interesting, see Jobava - Navara.

Réti Opening 4 c3 [A04]

4.c3 is a good way to avoid the Symmetrical English:

Black can transpose to the Fianchetto Grünfeld, but it's not to everyone's taste. In Petkov - Gretarsson Black tried an ambitious approach and the position soon became chaotic, and then Gretarsson lost track in a better position.

King's English Keres 2 g3 c6 3 d4 e4 [A20]

Lenic - Gajewski is another game that quickly follows unknown paths. Lenic tries an idea of just going for the pawn on e4:

and actually he takes it. But Gajewski proves that the activity of Black's pieces are enough compensation. 16.b6 would be more prudent in my view.

Reversed Dragon 4...d5 [A29]

In Socko - Mamedyarov Mamedyarov shows the danger of this kind of Reversed Sicilian for White. After one or two imprecise moves White already needs to be careful, since ...Nf4 themes are always in the air. Probably 17.a4 was not so good

Four Knights 4 g3 Bb4 5 Nd5 [A29]

Ipatov tries an unusual move order in the game Zhigalko - Ipatov, playing 6...0-0 instead of the normal 6...h6

Maybe the way to try to punish it is to play 7.Bg5, but is this really a problem? It will be similar to the ...g6 lines where using 3 moves to bring the bishop to f6 is not ideal, of course, but it is not the end of the world. Afterwards it transposed to a more common line.

I don't like 11...Ne7, as it looks like Black is spending a lot of time travelling with the knight, and for White I would propose 16.a5!?

Symmetrical - Rubinstein's Variation 7 d3 [A34]

White accelerates the Nd2-c4 manoeuvre in Movsesian - Volokitin and the players quickly enter an exotic queenless middlegame:

White has good chances and little by little Movsesian outplays Volokitin. Afterwards he enters a must-win situation and missed some good opportunities. 8...Be6 is not the main move, but it's interesting to see some subtleties regarding delaying 0-0 in some positions.

Symmetrical 4...d5, 6...g6 7 h4 [A34]

Once again we take a look at the fashionable 7 h4 in Vachier Lagrave-Svidler:

This time Vachier plays an interesting idea trying to improve on the Nepomniachtchi - Kramnik game (see last month). Svidler reacts well and managed to equalize without any big problems. Still, Black needs to be careful, since a more direct approach like 13...c4 can bring huge complications.

Till next time, Alex.

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