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This month we look at 1...b5 against the Réti, and compare this with 1.b4. We then move from the rare and exotic to some sharp mainlines: a Mikenas Attack, Rubinstein's Variation, and finally look at two knight retreats that might put 2...Bb4 under pressure.

Download PGN of September '11 Flank Openings games

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Réti - 1...b5 [A40]

A big game at the Botvinnik Memorial saw Magnus Carlsen meet Vladimir Kramnik's 1.Nf3 with the exotic 1...b5!? (Kramnik - Carlsen). I'm not sure that the advice to play this way against Kramnik came from Garry Kasparov and White played the simple 2.e4 Bb7 3.Bxb5, rapidly establishing an excellent position:

The later move 9.Bf4 doesn't seem to have been played much before but looks rather good.

Of White's alternatives, the 9.Ba4 of Wojtkiewicz - Bronstein also appears promising.

Orang-utan/Sokolsky's Opening 1.b4 [A00]

Of course it's impossible not to look at the 1.Nf3 b5 2.e4 Bb7 3.Bxb5 line without comparing it with 1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4, which has a reputation of being a solid way to meet the Orang Utan:

I'd like to add to previous ChessPublishing coverage of this line with two of Adorjan's games in which he met 3.Bxe5 Nf6 4.Nf3 0-0 5.e3 with the lesser played ...Be7:

His game against Urzica (Urzica - Adorjan) was a very nice win for him, and when Smyslov prepared 6.c4 in Smyslov - Adorjan the former World Champion found himself accepting a draw after just 16 moves.

Flohr-Mikenas Attack 3...d5 [A18]

Another Kramnik game, but this time as Black against Aronian (Aronian - Kramnik) saw a interesting wrinkle in a major line of the Flohr-Mikenas Attack. After 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.e5 d4 5.exf6 dxc3 6.bxc3 Qxf6 7.Nf3 e5 8.d4 exd4 9.Bg5 Qe6+ 10.Be2 Be7 11.cxd4 Bxg5 12.Nxg5 Qf6 13.Qd2 0-0 14.0-0 Nc6 15.d5 Nd4 Aronian found a novelty with 16.Ne4:

and it certainly does look like it's not bad to allow Black to exchange his bishop on e2. Kramnik's hunt for White's c4 pawn (19...Bd3) was not a good idea and he found himself fighting against a powerful White d-pawn. White won after some late mistakes by both sides.

Rubinstein Variation [A34]

There was an interesting move played in Nepomniachtchi - Kamsky; after 1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. g3 g6 6. Bg2 Bg7 White played 7. h4!?:

Although I found an earlier game with this move it is still very little known, and on the evidence of these games is well worth trying. Kamsky certainly didn't manage to solve his opening problems.

King's English 3.Nd5 Be7 [A21]

I found it interesting that after getting a free knight advance with 3.Nd5, a couple of recent games have featured subsequent knight retreats!

Andreikin - Volkov featured 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. Nd5 Be7 4. d4 d6 5. Nf3 e4 6. Nd2 f5 7. Nb1, which admittedly has been played before (see Speelman, J - Howell, D in the PGN Archive!) but not very much:

And Damljanovic - Drazic featured an even stranger knight retreat after 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. Nd5 Be7 4. d4 d6 5. Nf3 Nc6, the move 6. Nc3!?, which is most definitely new:

I'm going to give the thumbs up to both these moves and suggest renewed difficulties for Black in this line. But what a strange way to create them!

That's all for this month! Nigel Davies

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