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Hi everyone!
As always, the Olympiad provided a rich source of new ideas in the English and Réti. So this month we feature the Best from Baku!

Download PGN of October ’16 Flank Openings games

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Réti Opening, Lasker's System 3...Bf5 [A07]

In the Réti starting with 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 Bf5, the clash Kramnik, V - Adhiban, B continued in original fashion to arrive at the following unusual position after 10 moves:

Adhiban soon embarked on a risky plan which opened up the position, and although theoretically the verdict is 'unclear', it was White that had attacking chances. Indeed, after his opponent pushed his luck too far, Kramnik scored a fine win.

Réti Opening 2...g6 [A09]

Pantsulaia, L - So, W opened with the trendy line 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 g6 which has been doing quite well for Black. Now, playing 3 c4 immediately allowed White to recapture with the knight on the c4-square. After both sides developed logically this position was reached:

Black is comfortable here, as it is not so easy to find an active plan for White. Unfortunately for him, Pantsulaia soon dropped a pawn and was left with little chance to recover.

Réti Opening 2...Bg4 [A11]

After 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 Bg4 3 Bg2 Black usually plays either 3...c6 or 3...Nd7. In Rahman, Z - Bluebaum, M, however, starting with 3...e6 Black took an interesting approach, delaying the development of his c7-pawn and b8-knight for as long as possible. This gives Black more flexibility in dealing with White's various pawn structure options. The players reached this position 9 moves in:

Chances are balanced here, and Bluebaum was able to gradually outplay his opponent.

King's English, Keres System 3...c6 [A20]

Kovalyov, A - Kovalenko I opened with 1 c4 e5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 c6 4 d4, and now Black chose 4...exd4 which is the most popular move in practice. It is worth noting that two recent repertoire books recommend the more ambitious approach with 4...e4, so we may see more examples of that idea in future.

In this position White chose the rare move 9 Qd3, while the other logical queen move 9 Qa4 has been played much more frequently in practice. Kovalyov's choice has some advantages, however, and allowed him to mount pressure on Black's isolated queen's pawn. White created a second weakness and went on to score a smooth victory.

King's English 2...Bb4 [A21]

The game Bruzon Batista, L - Adhiban, B took a strange turn early on with 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Bb4 3 Nd5 Na6!?:

Black's 3rd move is highly unusual, although Adhiban had played it once in 2015. His idea is simply to protect the b4-bishop while keeping open the option of playing ...c7-c6. Bruzon didn't try and "refute" Black's play, just developing quietly with 4 g3, although Black was fine out of the opening.

Symmetrical English Four Knights 6 a3 [A33]

In the variation 1 c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nc3 Nc6 4 d4 cxd4 5 Nxd4 e6 6 a3, the move 6...Bc5 continues to be the main response at top level, even though Black has a couple of solid alternatives. Navara, D - Kasimdzhanov, R followed one of the critical lines with 9 c5:

After 9...Bc7 10 Bxc7 Qxc7 11 Nb5, White gets a knight check on the d6-square, disrupting Black's development. Although White won, the outcome of the opening is unresolved, so expect to see more games here.

Symmetrical English 3...d5, 5 e3 [A34]

After 1 c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nc3 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 e3 the move 5...Nxc3, to be followed by 6...g6, is a natural choice for Grünfeld players. Indjic, A - Baron, T now saw 6 bxc3 g6 7 h4!?, which is a topical approach in all kinds of anti-Grünfeld setups.

In the ensuing play, White appeared to have some initiative, culminating in a piece sac 17 Nxe6, although objectively this should have led to a forced draw.

Pure Symmetrical 5...e6, 7 d4 [A37]

One of White's main weapons in the well tried and tested Pure Symmetrical line 1 c4 c5 2 Nf3 g6 3 g3 Bg7 4 Bg2 Nc6 5 Nc3 e6 is the gambit line starting with 6 d4. Instead, in Stupak, K - Flores, D, White essayed a delayed version with 6 0-0 Nge7 7 d4!?. One of the main advantages of White's move-order (with 7 d4 instead of 6 d4) seems to be in offering Black more choices, not all of which are good! In the game, after 8 Nb5:

Black could now transpose back into quieter lines, but instead played the tempting 8...Nf5!?, trying to hold on to the d4–pawn. After 9 g4, however, the subsequent complications offer White decent chances to fight for an edge.

I hope you enjoy this Update!

Until next month, David.

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