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For one thing the bishop on b2 blocks White's support of a b4 advance by a rook on b1; furthermore, a bishop on c1 might find an influential post on f4 or even support the move f4 if Black plays After 7 e3 ttJc6 8 iile2, Kourkounakis-Botsari, Aegina proceeded Now Black should probably play Unfortunately for White, the absence of a bishop on b2 allows Black to contest eS by Thus we return to 7 i.

An exercise: count the number of squares available This is the traditional main line of the Closed Reti, and arguably of the Reti Opening as a whole.

Black now decides where to put his queen's knight, what to do with his bishop, and whether to play for Let's see some games. Norris Scottish Ch, Aberdeen w 1 c4 e6 2 ttJf3 d5 3 b3 ttJf6 4 g3 iLe7 5 iLg2 6 c5 7 iLb2 ttJc6 I haven't used the exact move-order of the game because I want to mention a frequentlyused move-order, This will transpose to one of our main lines if Black plays In this case, however, Black can't play the Here Black has the kind of active play he doesn't get in the main lines, when his bishop is on b7 instead of g4.

Initially only a small minority of players were willing to test this position as Black, since it looked too much like a Modem Benoni with colours reversed in which Black wouldn't be able to play This retreat became the main line after some bad experiences with slower moves.

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Other moves are seen much less often, although several are playable. Generally, if left to his own resources White can play 'iVe2 and an early d4 often after cxd5 , or in some cases d3 and e4, with some pull. It's worth mentioning that S These are standard Benoni ideas. White's pressure on the queenside and superior development all but one of Black's pieces are on the first rank guarantee him the advantage. Notice that in this line White doesn't solve Black's problems for him by 16 iLxb7?! White has sacrificed a pawn for excellent piece pressure. Then if Similarly, SLf4 22 d4 gives White good chances, especially in view of SLxb7 Overall, this line looks like a promising way for White to go.

This does use up the d2-square for a knight redeployment, but tiJd2 isn't necessarily a good idea anyway. Instead, 14 tiJh4! D is a strange-looking but promising move that tries to provoke Black into weakening his kingside with Since f4 is a positional threat, Black 'cooperates': Now White is ready to play h4; apparently, he needn't be in a hurry to make progress in such positions since he faces few threats.

Here are two examples: a IS SLfS seems more accurate: 16 'i'e2 SLg4 SLe6 18 g4 SLg6 19 tiJfxd4! Now the safest move is 20 SLxd4! Instead, Kosarev-Bets, Peterhof continued 20 tiJxd4!? Black made the wrong queen 'sacrifice' in Lautier-Kotronias, Sochi White embarks upon a pseudo-sacrifice consistent with the aim of piece activity.

Schwartzmann-Lputian, Wijk aan Zee saw the slower However, White went astray with 23 "iVe2?! In general, the chances in this game looked balanced, which we could say about the entire variation. I would encourage White to investigate his alternatives on moves 11 and But it sits uselessly on aI, so Black must have the better prospects.

In our main game, White solves that problem as follows: Since there are as yet no open lines, the question of how to activate rooks becomes of interest. Black tends to centralize with.. J:td8, opening the d-file by White sometimes beats him to the punch with cxd5 and then places rooks on el and dl, hoping for an effective d4. It's all very position-specific. B w Now it's very risky to delay Instead, the natural 23 dS?! PadevskyGregoriu, Istanbul allows the surprising defence Black cuts out the idea of cxdS right away. Actually, Just one example: 10 'iie2 10 d3!

Kosten gives l B Black really should have seen this standard pawn sacrifice coming. Sorokin-Sambuev, St Petersburg continued lS An excellent game for the student to play through. White is reserving the right to play d3 or d4. He can put his rooks on cl and dl, or dl and bl leaving the queen's rook on the queenside to restrain In fact, much of the time that White succeeds directly out of the opening, he does so with some version of f4-fS or g4-gS and transferring his pieces towards the black king.

Conversely, having played It's generally important to exchange off White's light-squared bishop, which otherwise might participate in a central or kingside attack. Here are two typical examples after 12 d3: a l He will often support However, the position is just simplified enough for Black to defend, and he has diversionary moves on the queenside.

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Now everything holds by a thread. There are tremendous complications, but I'll limit the notes: A terrific battle with useful tactical themes. Black's attack is faster than White's, but he could interpose In this example, White did a good job of handling Black's queenside advance, but you can see that Black maintained his prospects of penetrating into White's position. So far we see all the same ideas; White's omission of d3 is the only real difference, which gives him a better chance of restraining Black's queenside, because the queen on e2 watches overb5.

D B w 20gS!

The Process of Decision Making in Chess: Volume 1 - Mastering the Theory

White sacrifices a pawn to open up lines with a gain of tempo. D Now Black can do nothing about the threat of. Black's pawn-structure is permanently damaged.

The basics of chess decision-making. #2

The a3f8 diagonal proves decisive anyway. The Reti Opening leads to positions that are fluid and unclear. I suspect that its lack of greater popularity in part derives from the absence of the kind of predictable structures that characterize many mainstream openings. Some might consider that an advantage, however, in that the player who better adjusts to new issues will generally carry the day. The interested reader will have to dig around in books and databases. Sticking with the 1 c4 c6 English Opening for a moment, Tony Kosten points out that the move-order 2 g3 d5 3 Si. B A broad complex of positions can arise from Right away, I should put them in context.

In playing The most common alternatives to that move are 3 g3 and 3 b3. How White can achieve that and whether Black permits him to are the first questions both sides must consider, because there are so many early changes of direction that might spoil their respective plans.

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The question of how to react to a Slav moveorder also arises in the English Opening, and it's worth a digression to talk about how White should respond after 1 c4 c6. Again, he can play 2 d4 d5 with a Slav Defence. Or he can choose 2 lbf3 d5, transposing to this chapter. I should mention a third option, 2 e4 equivalent to the Caro-Kann line 1 e4 c6 2 c4 , when after He can also play 4 cxd5, which can reach typical isolated queen's pawn positions after If First, this move frustrates Black's desire to play Therefore, after 1 c4 c6 2 g3 d5 3 Si. Contrast this with the sequence Ilbf3 d5 2 c4 c6 3 g3 Si.

So by playing 1 c4 and 2 g3, White has reached a Reti System and bypassed the popular set-up with both Of course, there are always trade-offs. The System with Following So far, so good, but a possible problem is that Black can play This last position is hard to assess, but at any it's not a clear improvement for White over the lines beginning with 2liJf3. One issue in that case is whether other fourth moves like For example, after I have gone somewhat far afield to describe these ramifications of 1 c4 c6 2 g3, but they could be of considerable interest to English Opening players as well as those who prefer the Reti Opening.

Let's return to lliJf3 d5 2 c4 c6. The material expands quickly, as White has multiple moves at every juncture and Black several replies to each. With the warning that I shall only lliJf3 d5 2 c4 c6 3 g3 D We are used to weighing the differences between 3 g3 and 3 b3 when White is planning to fianchetto both bishops. But his intention in this game is to forego b3 with other ideas in mind. A drawback to doing so is that he allows White will also delay liJc3 for some time so as to steer clear of attack by Upon occasion, The ideas are similar to ones below. We'll look at acceptance of the gambit by Having played While he has several ways to proceed, Black's most common and in many ways ideal set-up is Occasionally, he is more ambitious and plays The move That said, h3 can also be answered by You can see why many players like the flexibility and imbalance that the White has his own opportunities, of course.

A significant drawback to Another issue is that White can play liJeS, attacking Black's bishop on g4. Note that liJeS, c4, liJc3 and i..

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What's more, a further pawn-break by e4 can cause additional damage. SliJeS This leap of the knight disturbs the balance by attacking the bishop on g4; White also steers clear of Obviously, this needs to be done before S On the other hand, Black allows this move for a reason: the knight on eS isn't defended and can be swapped off by A little simplification won't hurt Black, who temporarily controls more space. Of course, White can still go into the double fianchetto lines by S b3 which has its own section below; see, for example, the game Podzielny-Dautov , but other slow moves have generally been unimpressive because they don't do enough about Black's basic plan.

For one thing, Black threatens S So we can see the reasoning behind S liJeS, which is the critical move. Since White intends to play liJxg4 followed by e4, Black removes his bishop from capture. Otherwise, Black threatens As one might expect, White has many ways to react. Here are a few ideas: bl 6 'iVb3 'iVc7 is easy for Black because White is so far from getting his pieces out that he can't exploit the queen's placement along the c-file.

There may follow 7 d3lbbd7 8lbxd7 i. But without a knight it's always difficult to make real progress against Black's classic restraint centre with B 37 Now White wants to play lbc3 and capture the bishop on dS, so Black gives it a retreatsquare on c6: From now on Black has problems with his light-squared bishop, as demonstrated by a number of games.

Yet the alternative The popular move is A good example is Apparently Black can't equalize against 7 "iVb3, indicating in tum that S Black's bishop on hS or g6 is cut off We've seen this advance in many openings; the basic idea is that Black can't provide an escape-square for his bishop by moving his hpawn, because ttJxg6 would be positionally disastrous for him.