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Hello everyone! Nigel Davies suddenly decided he was no longer particularly interested in writing about theory, and as my stint on the 1 d4 d5 section had just come to an end I will now be taking over the Flank section full-time.
We have a mixed bag of variations this month, with several challenges to existing theory.

Download PGN of October '11 Flank Openings games

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Réti - 2...b5 [A05]

Black scores very well with the "Extended Fianchetto", 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 b5, but 3.Bg2 Bb7 4.Na3!? is an attempt to demonstrate that the b-pawn is overextended:

See Berkes - Fedorchuk.

Gurevich's System [A11]

The position after 1.c4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Qc2 Nbd7 6.b3 Bd6 7.Bb2 0-0 8.Be2 can be considered the main line of the anti-Slav. Now with the multi-purpose 8...a6 Black threatens to proceed with his ...e6-e5 advance:

A critical line runs 9.d4 b5 10.0-0 Bb7 11.e4 (11.c5!?) 11...b4 12.e5 bxc3 13.Bxc3 Be7 14.exf6 Bxf6:

and now 15.cxd5!? cxd5 16.Qd2 gave White a slight initiative on the queenside in Bartholomew - Herman. Early alternatives are also examined.

Capablanca's Variation [A11]

Against the Capablanca Variation 1.c4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Bg4, Mihail Marin recommends 5.Ne5 in Grandmaster Repertoire 4 - The English Opening vol. 2 (as did Tony Kosten before him). After 5...Be6 6.cxd5 Bxd5 7.Nf3 c5 8.Nc3 Bc6 9.0-0 e6 10.d3 Be7 11.e4 0-0 White tried 12.Re1 in Sundararajan - Sriram, but 12...b5!? gives Black excellent counterplay:

Marin's 12.Qe2 seems more accurate, when White can hope for a modest edge.

Pseudo-Grünfeld [A16]

Anti-Grunfelds with h2-h4 are all the rage!

In the fashionable line 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 4.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.g4 Bg7 6.Bg2 Nb6, White delayed castling to launch his rook pawn forward in Meier - Robson, 7.d3 Nc6 8.Be3 0-0 9.Qd2 e5 10.h4:

Robson essayed a small novelty with 10...Bg4, but White's initiative is dangerous. I believe Black should rethink the entire line beginning with 6...Nb6 and instead opt for the main line 6...0-0.

2.g3 Reversed Dragon [A20]

The line 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.0-0 Be7 7.d4 e4 8.Ne5 f5 9.Nxc5 bxc6 has been featured many times on

At the European Club Cup two high-level encounters saw 10.Nd2 0-0 11.Nb3, in which White prevents the liquidation of Black's doubled c-pawns. Rublevsky played 11...Qd6 and lost in Wang Hao - Rublevsky, and the next day Motylev met the same fate after 11...Bd6. Both GMs paid the price for prematurely attacking White's king.

Four Knights 4...Bc5 [A29]

I hope subscribers won't fault me for showing off two of my wins in this update. Against an up-and-coming American junior, after 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 Nc6 4.Nc3 Bc5 5.Nf3 d6 6.d3 h6 7.a3 a6 8.0-0 0-0 9.b4 I faced the unorthodox retreat 9...Bb6!?:

Superficially, the bishop stands on a more exposed square compared to its usual a7 hideout, but one good point is that c7 is well-defended. On the other hand, White's typical advance c4-c5 will likely come with tempo. A full discussion of the pros and cons of Black's approach is quite helpful for understanding the Karpov Variation, see Bartholomew - Troff.

Pure Symmetrical [A37]

Radjabov - Ivanchuk is a thrilling game from the World Cup. 1.Nf3 c5 2.g3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.Nc3 e6 6.d3 Nge7 and now 7.h4!? is gaining some popularity. Following 7...h6 8.Bd2 b6 Radjabov embarked on an enterprising path with 9.h5!? g5 10.Nxg5! hxg5 11.Bxg5:

when White enjoyed excellent practical chances with his dangerous h-pawn and bishop pair. Analysis reveals plenty of defensive resources for Black, though his position is a nightmare to navigate over the board. Black can consider other options on move eight, such as the unjustly forgotten 8...d5.

Until next time, John

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