Flank Openings - Laying Siege to the Center


Black Rook on a light squareBlack Knight on a dark squareBlack Bishop on a light squareBlack Queen on a dark squareBlack King on a light squareBlack Bishop on a dark squareBlack Knight on a light squareBlack Rook on a dark square
Black pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light square
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Empty light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark square
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White pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareEmpty dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark square
White Rook on a dark squareWhite Knight on a light squareWhite Bishop on a dark squareWhite Queen on a light squareWhite King on a dark squareWhite Bishop on a light squareWhite Knight on a dark squareWhite Rook on a light square

Flank Openings: Bird's Opening - 1.f4

Flank Openings involve White beginning with play on the wings. The English Opening is the most important but there are several more that may interest you.


Many of them can easily transpose into the mainstream systems of 1.e4 and 1.d4 and yet contain independent lines. These unique variations adhere to the Hypermodern school of thought.


You will allow Black to occupy the center as you push pawns and post your pieces on the wings. Then just as Black is ready to take the initiative you will strike at his center. This style of chess ought to broaden your horizons and show you another way to approach the game.


Keep Your Options Open with the Zukertort Opening




Black Rook on a light squareBlack Knight on a dark squareBlack Bishop on a light squareBlack Queen on a dark squareBlack King on a light squareBlack Bishop on a dark squareBlack Knight on a light squareBlack Rook on a dark square
Black pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light square
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Empty dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark squareWhite Knight on a light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light square
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White Rook on a dark squareWhite Knight on a light squareWhite Bishop on a dark squareWhite Queen on a light squareWhite King on a dark squareWhite Bishop on a light squareEmpty dark squareWhite Rook on a light square

Flank Openings: Zukertort Opening - 1.Nf3

The Zukertort Opening is not an independent opening as such. It is purely transpositional. 1.Nf3 is the third most popular first move in chess after 1.e4 and 1.d4, pushing 1.c4 into 4th place.


It's the most logical waiting move you can play since f3 is the King's Knight's favorite square. You keep all of your options on the table. You can still go for a 1.e4, 1.d4 or 1.c4 opening.


You can get a favorable version of many openings by taking advantage of Black's reply. If you have Black maybe the best reply to this move is 1...Nf6. It is equally evasive. You put the ball back in White's court and tell him to make a decision. 1...d5 is a move which leads to the Reti Opening.


Go Hypermodern in the Reti Opening




Black Rook on a light squareBlack Knight on a dark squareBlack Bishop on a light squareBlack Queen on a dark squareBlack King on a light squareBlack Bishop on a dark squareBlack Knight on a light squareBlack Rook on a dark square
Black pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareEmpty light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light square
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Empty dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light square
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White Rook on a dark squareWhite Knight on a light squareWhite Bishop on a dark squareWhite Queen on a light squareWhite King on a dark squareWhite Bishop on a light squareEmpty dark squareWhite Rook on a light square

Flank Openings: Reti Opening - 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4

Let's say Black answers the Zukertort with 1...d5, White can enter the Reti Opening with 2.c4. Some people consider 1.Nf3 to be the start of the Reti but it's after 1...d5 2.c4 that the game takes a distinctly Reti flavor rather than transposing to other openings.

Black has some options here. You can take with 2...dxc4 or you can support your d-pawn with 2...c6 or 2...e6. Finally you can try the most critical move in the position, 2...d4.

Now you will play a Benoni with colors reversed. As White you have three moves here. You can play 3.g3 to fianchetto your King's Bishop just as Black would in the regular Benoni.

You can go with 3.b4 and 4.Bg2 attacking the d4-pawn. Finally you can attack the advanced pawn in traditional Benoni fashion with 3.e3. After 3...c5 exd4 4.cxd4 5.d3 you have the familiar Benoni formation except now the pawns are decked out in white.


Hit Black with the King's Indian Attack




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Empty dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareEmpty dark squareWhite Knight on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareEmpty light square
White pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareWhite Knight on a dark squareEmpty light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareWhite Bishop on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark square
White Rook on a dark squareEmpty light squareWhite Bishop on a dark squareWhite Queen on a light squareEmpty dark squareWhite Rook on a light squareWhite King on a dark squareEmpty light square

Flank Openings: King's Indian Attack - e4, d3, Nd2, Ngf3, g3, Bg2, 0-0

The King's Indian Attack is a formation inspired by Black's King's Indian Defense. Such was the success of this system for Black from the 1950s through to today that people have tried the set-up with White.

This formation has been tested against various Sicilians, the Caro-Kann and the French Defense. It has been very successful in the Reti Opening after 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3.

It seems like this opening gives Black too much latitude in the center. It's true he can set up just any way he pleases. On the other hand he can't be sure what you're going to do.

He must factor in all your options arising out of c4, d4 or the KIA after d3 and e4. Again we see the advantages of 1.Nf3, forcing Black to choose a path with the intentions of then wrong-footing him.


Throw the Yugoslav at the King's Indian Attack




Black Rook on a light squareBlack Knight on a dark squareEmpty light squareBlack Queen on a dark squareBlack King on a light squareBlack Bishop on a dark squareEmpty light squareBlack Rook on a dark square
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White Rook on a dark squareWhite Knight on a light squareWhite Bishop on a dark squareWhite Queen on a light squareEmpty dark squareWhite Rook on a light squareWhite King on a dark squareEmpty light square

Flank Openings: Yugoslav Variation - 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.O-O Bg4

The Yugoslav Variation is one of the two main branches of the KIA in the Reti Opening. You could also play 4.Bf5 but the Yugoslav is more testing. You have released the Bishop to the g4 square where he can x-ray the Queen.

Now the Queen's Knight can go to d7 without locking this Bishop in. You will play the advance ...e5, ...Bd6 and ...0-0. Your main focus will be on preparing a Kingside attack.

If you have White you will have plans too. You will continue with the KIA and play 5.d3. 6.Ne2 and 7.Qe1 is worth considering before the e4-push. You will be wriggling out of any potential pinning ideas. What's more you will be building even more support for 8.e4 and even 9.e5 if you are allowed.


Queen's Indian Attack - Your Key to Favorable Lines




Black Rook on a light squareBlack Knight on a dark squareBlack Bishop on a light squareBlack Queen on a dark squareBlack King on a light squareBlack Bishop on a dark squareEmpty light squareBlack Rook on a dark square
Black pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light square
Empty light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light squareBlack Knight on a dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark square
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Empty dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareWhite Knight on a light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light square
White pawn on a light squareEmpty dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareEmpty light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark square
White Rook on a dark squareWhite Knight on a light squareWhite Bishop on a dark squareWhite Queen on a light squareWhite King on a dark squareWhite Bishop on a light squareEmpty dark squareWhite Rook on a light square

Flank Openings: Queen's Indian Attack - 1.Nf3 d5 2.e3 c5 3.b3 Nf6

The Queen's Indian Attack is a rarely played move order with few games reaching this initial starting position. It does however transpose to more common positions after a few more moves.


It can be used as a back door to sidelines in the main defensive systems that Black might employ. You get a Bishop on the long dark diagonal heading towards Black's Kingside. In most lines your King's Knight takes the high ground on e5.


This system offers you easy uncomplicated development followed by a Kingside attack. It isn't a regular at the highest level but you can rest assured it will put many of your opponents in the think tank.


Go Dutch with Bird's Opening




Black Rook on a light squareBlack Knight on a dark squareBlack Bishop on a light squareBlack Queen on a dark squareBlack King on a light squareBlack Bishop on a dark squareBlack Knight on a light squareBlack Rook on a dark square
Black pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light square
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Empty light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark square
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White pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareEmpty dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark square
White Rook on a dark squareWhite Knight on a light squareWhite Bishop on a dark squareWhite Queen on a light squareWhite King on a dark squareWhite Bishop on a light squareWhite Knight on a dark squareWhite Rook on a light square

Flank Openings: Bird's Opening - 1.f4

Henry Bird played this opening in the 19th century. The reason he gave was after a six year sabbatical from chess he had forgotten the more common openings. 1.f4 then came to be known as Bird's Opening.

It has also been called the Dutch Attack. This is due to the fact that it is the Dutch Defense with colors reversed. White is playing the Dutch with the first move.

As White you will go with the same plans and ideas as if you were playing the Dutch with the Black pieces. You can fianchetto the light square Bishop for a "Leningrad Bird" or play Be2 for a "Classical Bird".

After Nf3, this Knight will be watching for chances to go to either e5 or g5. You're playing for a Kingside attack. Only question is do you want a Classical Bird, Leningrad Bird or Stonewall Bird?


Play the Waiting Game with a King's Fianchetto Opening




Black Rook on a light squareBlack Knight on a dark squareBlack Bishop on a light squareBlack Queen on a dark squareBlack King on a light squareBlack Bishop on a dark squareBlack Knight on a light squareBlack Rook on a dark square
Black pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light square
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Empty dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareEmpty light square
White pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareEmpty light squareWhite pawn on a dark square
White Rook on a dark squareWhite Knight on a light squareWhite Bishop on a dark squareWhite Queen on a light squareWhite King on a dark squareWhite Bishop on a light squareWhite Knight on a dark squareWhite Rook on a light square

Flank Openings: King's Fianchetto Opening - 1.g3

The King's Fianchetto Opening is sometimes called the Benko Opening. It is the most popular opening move after the big four, 1.e4, 1.d4, 1.Nf3 and 1.c4. It is some way behind these in order of occurrence but it's not a bad move.


It's quite similar to 1.Nf3 in that it's basically a waiting move that will transpose into any opening you need it too. The only thing is while 1.Nf3 keeps all options on the table, 1.g3 does tie you to fianchetto systems.


You still have lots of leeway to react to Black's game but if you're going to play wait and see, why not go with the even more flexible 1.Nf3. I suppose if you're determined to put your Bishop on g2 then this move has absolutely no drawbacks.


Confuse Black with Larsen's Opening




Black Rook on a light squareBlack Knight on a dark squareBlack Bishop on a light squareBlack Queen on a dark squareBlack King on a light squareBlack Bishop on a dark squareBlack Knight on a light squareBlack Rook on a dark square
Black pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light square
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White pawn on a light squareEmpty dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark squareWhite pawn on a light squareWhite pawn on a dark square
White Rook on a dark squareWhite Knight on a light squareWhite Bishop on a dark squareWhite Queen on a light squareWhite King on a dark squareWhite Bishop on a light squareWhite Knight on a dark squareWhite Rook on a light square

Flank Openings: Larsen's Opening - 1.b3

Bent Larsen of Denmark was a throwback to the Romantic Era who like to play a high wire game. He set tricky tactical puzzles for his opponents with unusual openings. They didn't always pass the test and he took some big scalps.


It should be no surprise that Larsen's Opening should be well off the main highways of chess theory. 1.b3 looks meek enough but like most Hypermodern openings it has it's share of venom.


The Main Line sees you put your dark square Bishop on the long diagonal, get your King's Knight to e2, castle and play the thematic f4 pawn break. This will open the long diagonal and should be the launch pad to a fearsome Kingside attack.


Moving On




Black Rook on a light squareBlack Knight on a dark squareBlack Bishop on a light squareBlack Queen on a dark squareBlack King on a light squareBlack Bishop on a dark squareBlack Knight on a light squareBlack Rook on a dark square
Black pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light squareBlack pawn on a dark squareBlack pawn on a light square
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White pawn on a dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light squareEmpty dark squareEmpty light square
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White Rook on a dark squareWhite Knight on a light squareWhite Bishop on a dark squareWhite Queen on a light squareWhite King on a dark squareWhite Bishop on a light squareWhite Knight on a dark squareWhite Rook on a light square

Irregular Openings: Anderssen's Opening - 1.a3

When the Hypermodern thesis was first put to the chess world it was considered blasphemous. To even question the self evident truth of the Classical doctrines was madness. But slowly players showed with the Indian systems, Black could allow White to build a center before attacking it from the outside. Controlling the center with pieces is as legitimate as occupying it with pawns.

The development of Flank Openings was taking this theme one step further. It was one thing to have Black hanging back from the center. But for White to do it? Surely White with the first move was absolutely obliged to claim the center. But now the Hypermodern players were showing that White could also play a Hypermodern game and with great success.

This is an intro to playing with and against Flank Openings. But there are more which haven't quite graduated from the Irregular class as their cousins here have. But that doesn't mean that these Irregular Openings are all bad.


> Flank Openings