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Hi everyone!
This month features some exciting and original battles from Abu Dhabi, Saint Louis and Bournemouth. I'm also pleased to include a guest contribution from Richard Pert who annotates his game against Michael Adams, the winner of this year's British Championship. Indeed, in this Update, Adams wins from both sides of the board.

Download PGN of September ’16 Flank Openings games

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Réti Opening 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 d4 3 e3 [A09]

In the Réti after 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 d4 it has been a while since we looked at 3 e3 as there have been many games with the alternatives 3 b4 and 3 g3. After 3...Nc6 4 Nxd4 Nxd4 5 exd4 Qxd4 6 Nc3 c6, White cedes the d4-square (at least temporarily), hoping to win time against the Black queen, and thereby regain central control later on:

Antipov, M - Sarkar, J continued with 7 d3 Nh6 8 Be2 and now 8...Nf5 is the most combative move, preventing 9 Be3 and perhaps daring White to play 9 g4!?, which Antipov was indeed tempted to do. White had actually lost every previous database game (!) with 9 g4, but when Black missed his best chances, Antipov secured the win. Objectively, 9 0-0 gives better chances for an opening advantage.

Réti Double Fianchetto vs Reversed Benoni [A14]

Jones, G - Adams, M opened with 1 c4 e6 2 g3 d5 3 Bg2 Nf6 4 Nf3 Be7 5 0-0 0-0 6 b3 c5 7 e3 Nc6 8 Bb2 d4. This reversed-Benoni setup is strategically the most challenging answer to the Réti Double-Fianchetto system:

Here Jones chose 12 Ne5 Nxe5 13 Rxe5 but after 13...Bd6 missed his best chance which was the exchange sac 14 Bxd4!. Instead after 14 Re1 e5 White found it impossible to get active play. Adams gradually increased the pressure and was almost flawless from this point on.

Pseudo-Grünfeld 5 h4 [A16]

A topical anti-Grünfeld line starts 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 h4:

Here, in Cyborowski, L - Shishkin, V Black chose 5...Nxc3 which we haven't previously looked at on this site. Black avoids the setup with 5...Bg7 6 e4 Nxc3 7 dxc3 when the queenless middlegame is not to everyone's taste. The point of Black's move-order is that 6 dxc3 makes less sense while Black still has full flexibility in his development plans. In the game, after 6 bxc3 a complex position arises, and I examine the current state of theory in the notes.

In Kuzubov, Y - Dragun, K Black instead chose 5...Bg7 and now White played the aggressive 6 h5 (which is currently just as popular as 6 e4). After Nc6 7 g3 with 7...Bf5 Black varied from 7...Bg4 which has been played several times by Wei Yi.

Both sides had chances in an interesting opening. Black eventually won with a spectacular finish.

Mikenas Attack 3...d5 4 cxd5 exd5 5 e5 Ne4 [A18]

Howell, D - Eggleston, D opened with 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e6 3 e4 d5 4 cxd5 exd5 5 e5 Ne4 6 Nf3 and now Black essayed 6...Nc6 instead of 6...Bf5 which has been in vogue for the last few years. Indeed, Howell had played the latter move with Black a few days earlier against Gawain Jones.

After 7 Bb5 Be7 8 Qa4 Bd7 9 Nxe4 Black had the key intermediate move 9...a6! which makes life difficult for White. The course of the game confirmed that White should look to early deviations in search of an advantage. Black was slightly better in the ensuing endgame, although David Howell gradually outplayed his opponent.

King's English 4...Bc5 [A29]

Guest annotator Richard Pert analyzes the game Adams, M - Pert, R which began 1 c4 e5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 Nc6 4 Nc3 Bc5 5 Nf3 d6 6 0-0 0-0 7 e3 a6 8 d4 Ba7:

After 9 h3 Richard chose 9...exd4, varying from 9...h6 which he played against Howell in last year's British Championship - a game also analyzed on Chess Publishing. Although Adams eventually prevailed, as Richard says "the system looks a decent one, given that I had clearly better positions against both Howell and Adams with Black".

Reversed Dragon [A29]

The reversed Dragon continues to be a theoretical battleground for top players. This month we feature two games from the recent Sinquefield Cup. In the starting position after 1 c4 e5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Nc3 Nb6 6 Nf3 Nc6 7 0-0 Be7, White has three main plans, 1) the traditional mainline with a quick a2-a3 and b2-b4 2) 8 Rb1 aiming for b2-b4 without spending a tempo with the a-pawn and 3) Piece development with 8 d3 and an early Bc1-e3.

So, W - Topalov, V followed the third of these schemes, reaching the following position after White's 10th move:

After 10...Nd5 11 Nxd5 Bxd5 12 Qa4, a well prepared Wesley So uncorked a new concept with 14 Nd2 and 18 e4. Nevertheless, Topalov managed to equalize, before over-pressing and going down to a loss.

In Giri, A - Aronian, L White opted for 8 Rb1 trying for an accelerated b2-b4, which Black parried with 8...a5. Giri then went for the central break with 9 d3 0-0 10 Be3 Be6 11 d4:

With 14 f4 White injected some dynamism into the game, but after perhaps missing some nuances around move 16-17, White no longer had anything from the opening.

I hope you enjoy this Update!

Until next month, David.

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