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Hi Everyone!
There was a wealth of top games to choose from this month, from the European Club Cup, World Rapid and Blitz Championships, and many high-level classical events. In this Update I focus on some weird and wonderful developments in the Réti as well as exciting new ideas in the English.

Download PGN of November '15 Flank Openings games

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Réti Opening 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 d4 3 b4 [A09]

1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 d4 3 b4 is a topical line of the Réti featured in Greenfeld - Short. Nigel continued with the relatively rare 3...Bg4 and after 4 g3 played the logical novelty 4...f6:

Black is playing for the centre in principled fashion, at the cost of lagging kingside development, and soon there was 'fire on board'. In a complex position, both sides had chances, but Short out-calculated his opponent and won in just 22 moves.

In addition to this game, the line with 3 b4 was also played in Ivanchuk-Hammer at the European Club Cup, Kramnik-Andreikin at the recent World Cup, and a number of games in the World Rapid and Blitz Championships this month. These games are covered in the notes to the main game.

Réti Opening, Anti-Slav Gambit 3 Bg2 c6 4 c4 dxc4 [A11]

The Anti-Slav Gambit has been covered extensively on this site over the years, with the main line being 5 0-0 Nbd7, with 5...Bf5 and 5...Be6 getting an honourable mention. In T.L.Petrosian-Anand however, Anand played 5...b5 which is new to this site:

Black defends the c4-pawn with his b5-pawn rather than with pieces (which happens in the other main lines here). Black's idea is not necessarily to hold onto the extra pawn at all costs, and in fact Anand returned the pawn quickly and gained space on the queenside with ...b4. He was doing well out of the opening and went on to win the game.

Réti Opening, Reversed Grob 1 Nf3 e6 2 c4 g5!? [A13]

We have seen original play in the Flank Openings from the young Spanish GM David Anton Guijarro in earlier Updates, but here he plays something truly off-beat!

Sethuraman - Anton Guijarro opened with 1 Nf3 e6 2 c4 g5!?:

Yes it was a Rapid game, but this one was contested between two 2630+ GMs in the important World Rapid Championship. White's first two moves do give Black's 2...g5 some point - White isn't yet controlling the g5-square and the f3-knight will likely get chased around. In fact, this is probably one of the best of all the openings where Black plays ...g5 on the first or second move! Seriously though, this game does give food for thought. Sethuraman did emerge with a good position as White, but the position was sufficiently complex that anything could happen (and it did!).

Pseudo-Grünfeld 5 h4 [A16]

4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 h4 is a key line of the Pseudo-Grünfeld in which we saw the slugfest Ding Liren-Wei Yi in last month's Update. Several other top players also tested it at the World Rapid and Blitz in Berlin this month. In Yu Yangyi-Khmelniker from Skopje, Black played 5...Nf6, trying to hold up the advance of White's h-pawn and take play into a more regular Grünfeld setup once White advances his central pawns.

This is double-edged however, as Black has lost time with his knight and doesn't have immediate pressure on White's centre. Yu Yangyi built a classical pawn centre, drove his h-pawn to h6, and won an instructive game.

King's English 3 g3 Bb4; 5 e4 [A22]

Giri - Anand from the Bilbao Masters started 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 g3 Bb4 4 Bg2 0-0 5 e4 Bxc3 6 bxc3 c6 and in this well-known position, Giri unleashed 7 Nf3, which was effectively a novelty at this very early stage:

Although this move had been played in a single correspondence game, it definitely surprised Anand. He missed a hidden tactic on move 10, and rather than suffer a pawn down, went for complications which soon landed him in a lost position. Although this was an uncharacteristic performance from Anand, this does not detract from Giri's excellent opening preparation which revitalizes this line for White.

Reversed Dragon 8 Rb1 [A29]

In the Reversed Dragon after 1 c4 e5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Nc3 Nb6 6 Nf3 Nc6 7 0-0 Be7, Nakamura - Sevian continued with 8 Rb1 which is the third most popular move here, a long distance behind 8 a3 and 8 d3 in terms of adoption. After 8...0-0, White played 9 b4 without the preparatory a2-a3:

8 Rb1 sets slightly non-standard problems, and appears to be growing in popularity recently. It also enabled Nakamura to take his young opponent out of normal lines, and after emerging from the opening with a big positional advantage, the US No. 1 scored a crushing win.

Symmetrical Four Knights 6 g3 Qb6 7 Nb3 [A33]

Dubov - Leko started with 1 Nf3 c5 2 c4 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6 6 g3 Qb6 7 Nb3 Ne5 and in this heavily analysed position White now launched a daring and little known pawn sacrifice 8 Bg2!?:

While not a new move, 8 Bg2 seems to have flown beneath the radar of mainstream theory. In the World Rapid Championship, Dubov impressively beat both Leko and Grischuk with this line. This exciting gambit is a fresh approach to a well-worn position and gives White a whole new avenue of investigation.

Symmetrical English 3 Nc3 e5 4 e3 Nf6 [A34]

The line with 1 c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 e5 4 e3 Nf6 is one of Grischuk's specialities. He played the Black side of this variation four times in the 2011 Candidates tournament alone, and a number of times since. In Jakovenko - Grischuk, after 5 d4 e4 6 Ne5 Grischuk varied from his earlier games and came up with 6...Be7, which had not been played before at top level:

White didn't manage to cause his opponent any significant problems from the opening, and in fact Black was pressing for most of the game which eventually ended in a soundly played draw.

I hope you enjoy this Update!

Until next month, David.

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