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Fall greetings to all users! The Olympiad dominates this month's coverage, and we pay special attention to a tabiya in the Réti. A topical line in the Three Knights is also given its due.

Download PGN of September '12 Flank Openings games

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Réti without c4 [A07]

A sleepy King's Indian Attack is a deadly weapon in Hikaru Nakamura's hands! The position after 1.g3 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 3.Bg2 c6 4.d3 Bf5 5.0-0 is, of course, well known to theory:

In Nakamura - Solak Black played the most common move, 5...e6, but after 6.Nh4 Bg6 7.Nxg6 hxg6 8.Nd2 Nbd7 9.e4 dxe4 10.dxe4 White obtained the bishop pair and a slight advantage with minimal effort. Many would be satisfied with a slow grind, but Naka goes for throat and mates his opponent in 31 moves!

Réti ...e6, 4...Be7 [A14]

The following line in the Réti has been given extensive coverage in recent works on the English, so it's high time we tackled it: 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 4.0-0 Be7 5.c4 0-0 6.b3 c5 7.e3 Nc6 8.Bb2 b6 9.Nc3 dxc4 10.bxc4 Bb7 11.Qe2

A prominent Réti tabiya. In Pantsulaia - Fridman Black played 11...Qc7, which, depending on which Grandmaster authority you ask (Mihail Marin or Alexander Delchev), is either a loss of time or a flexible move! Following 12.Nb5 (Marin's recommendation) 12...Qb8!? 13.d4 Fridman played the mysterious 13...Re8!?, which appears to be directed against a future d4-d5. A complex struggle ensued where White succeeded in favorably opening the center but failed to land a decisive blow.

Kvon - Sargissian took a slightly different path: 1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.b3 b6 7.Bg2 Bb7 8.e3 dxc4 9.bxc4 c5 10.Qe2 Nc6 11.Rd1 (not a mistake, but I think White should follow the script with 11.Nc3) 11...Qc7 12.Nc3 (reaching the same position but with Delchev's 12.Rfd1 played instead of Marin's 12.Nb5) 12...Rfd8:

Here White played the undeniably natural 13.Rac1, but Black's next move discourages White from pulling the trigger on d2-d4: 13...Na5!. White resolved to play solidly with 14.d3, but after 14...a6 15.Ng5 Bxg2 16.Kxg2 Qb7+ 17.Qf3 Qxf3+ 18.Nxf3= Sargissian had won the theoretical duel and began to outplay his lower-rated opponent.

Accelerated Nimzo 1.c4 e6 [A13]

Vietnam's number one scores big in an unassuming line. 1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 Bb4 3.Qb3 Qe7?!:

Black's last move is exceedingly rare, and very likely dubious. In Le Quang Liem - Kurajica White struck with 4.Nb5!, highlighting the weakness of Black's last move. The knight jump also prepares a sneaky queen transfer to which Black often falls victim. After 4...Na6 5.a3!? Ba5? 6.Qg3! Black was already under serious pressure.

Symmetrical - Double Fianchetto [A30]

I really enjoy investigating the Double Fianchetto. It's a nuanced line with a great pedigree where an aficionado can make his mark with either color. Here we see a nice effort from one of its 2700 exponents, Zoltan Almasi, 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 b6 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.0-0 g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 d6 9.Be3 Nbd7 10.Rac1 Rc8 11.b3 0-0 12.Qh4 a6 13.Rfd1 Rc7 14.Bh3 Qb8 15.g4 e6! 16.g5 Ne8 17.Ne8:

Here in Bartel - Almasi White played 17.Nd4!?, which looks like the best chance for an advantage at present. Almasi replied with 17...Nc5, a move he had previously played against Vallejo Pons back in December. Bartel deviated from that encounter with 18.Qg3, but after 18...Be5 19.f4 Bg7 20.Bg2 e5!? 21.Nf3 exf4 22.Qxf4 f6! Almasi had timed his e and f-pawn breaks very nicely and obtained excellent counterplay.

Symmetric 2.Nc3 Nf6 [A34]

Vachier - Lagrave - Lagarde saw the occasionally trendy 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 c5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Be2 e5!?. Black looks to transfer the weight of the struggle to the flanks, but Vachier-Lagrave sharply changed the character of the game with 6.d4 h6 7.0-0 g6 8.b4!:

White was rewarded with a high-octane victory.

Three Knights 4.e3 [A35]

The following Three Knights line has established itself as the strongest counterargument to 4.e3, 4...g6 5.d4 cxd4 6.exd4 d5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bc4 Nxc3 9.Qb3 Nd5 (I believe this is the best way to return the knight) 10.Bxd5 e6 11.Bxc6+ bxc6 12.0-0 Qd5 13.Qc3:

Here we examine two divergent approaches from the Olympiad. In Fressinet - Parligras Black followed theory with 13...Bg7, and after 14.Bf4 0-0 15.Qe3 Qb5 16.Bh6!? Fressinet pitched a pawn to spur his initiative. White held an undeniable initiative into the middlegame, but I must say I was rather impressed with Black's resilience and defensive resources. Parligras defended accurately and eventually won.

Instead, in Pantsulaia - Short Black blazed a trail with 13...f6!?, a move that Black often needs anyways to shore up the dark squares. After 14.Bf4 g5! (it transpires that Short's last move is useful in grabbing kingside space) 15.Bg3 Be7 16.Rfe1 Kf7 17.Rac1 Bb7 18.Re3 Rhe8 19.Qb3?! Short executed an ideal pawn break with 19...c5!, totally solving Black's problems. Short's novelty has definite appeal, so expect more games with 13...f6!? to roll in.

Until next time, John

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