The Flexible Reti : Ideas & Variations

May 13, 2008, 7:13 AM |
Ok. So in the first post on the Reti we saw that it's not an open game, but it's also not a closed game. It's classified as a "Flank Opening" as it avoids the centre. Most players are encouraged to study and play "Open Games" first. This means that you are unlikely to play amateur/club level players who are versed with flank openings 1. Nf3 also asks black a few questions. Let's look at those with respect to what their reply is and their likely opening plan!
  1. Are they comfortable playing queens pawn openings, if so you will see the very popular 1.....d5
  2. Do they know the Sicilian best, or perhaps they are well versed in the Symetrical English ECO/A30-A38 (1. c4 c5), if so then play will continue 1.....c5 along with the Sicilian/English plan
  3. Are you playing another fan of the Nu-Skool of "Hypermodernism"? If so then they may also ignore the centre and setup their own pieces in their own half. This will usually take the form of 1....d6 The Pirc, 1....g6 The Modern or 1....b6 Owen's Defence (although the latter is rare) or maybe a Knight move.

If 2 or 3 is the case then you are probably playing someone with a decent rating and you should be careful, but then you probably knew that anyway :-) However my advice against both is the same. "Follow the 4 main rules, but with the Ideal Reti in mind". You will of course need to adapt and change this as you go depending on what your opponent does. You can however develop at your own pace and should see attacks coming.
Congratulations you've reached the middle-game alive!

Option 1 is much more common. Why? Well it takes an expert, a Hypermodernist fan, or a nutter to leave an empty centre unoccupied. (Some may say the 3 are a sliding scale in that order!) So now we'll look at what comes next for White after 1. Nf3 d5


 2. c4. (ECO:A09)
Ooooh! A gambit. (mq1982 may be chuckling to himself now after my critique on his wild gambit/tricksy style)...anyway
So you forced black away from taking e5 first move, and now they've bagged d5, you're having a go at that. That centre is practically yours already! Ok I'm exaggerating but it creates tension early on so I'd like to think it's a lot less boring than a d4 QGD (yawn).

Now the Reti isn't the most studied opening, but it does have 5 ECO codes all to itself.
"The Reti: Advanced" Black's sharpest reply (in my opinion) is 2....d4.
I will leave this to another blog as I think it is quite fiddly, but you can push b4 and expand queenside.

Black can take the pawn with 2......dxc4 White cannot recapture immediately but can check with 3. Qa4+ causing black to defend with the bishop or queen, at which point white regains the pawn and a reasonable control over the centre

From here black will start to develop and White is quite well off.

If black doesn't opt for the pawn grab then it maintains the tension and as the position develops it is likely that the queen check will become unavailable so think about protecting c4 with b3 or d3 at some point. You are also going to want to fianchetto your white bishop in a King's Indian style and think about fianchettoing your black bishop if appropriate.
Here is a position I ended up in after rushing after the Black's white squared bishop. In my haste I had neglected c4 and lost it temporarily but it does show where the Reti can take you!

I got the pawn back eventually and won on time, but the game was very close!