Nigel Davies’ “The Dynamic Reti” (Everyman Chess) is a typical example.
The position above can be reached by any number of move orders. I usually get there by something like
1. Nf3 Nf6, 2. c4 e6, 3. g3 d5, 4. Bg2 Be7, 5. o-o o-o, 6. b3 b6, 7. Bb2 Bb7, 8. e3 c5, 9. Nc3
Davies’ main line here is 9. … Nc6 and after 10. cxd5 Nxd5, 11. Nxd5 Qxd5 White can get some initiative based around the exposed position of Black’s Queen. If Black takes back on d5 with the pawn (with or without an exchange of Knights) White can play d2-d4 when Black will end up with hanging pawns on c5 and d5 or an isolated pawn on d5.
To avoid this Davies considers 9. … dxc4, 10. bxc4 Nc6 which avoids the weaknesses at the cost of allowing White a central pawn majority. He also allocates a brief note to 9. … d4?! which is less good than making the pawn advance without fianchettoing the Queen’s Bishop.
All well and good but my first thought when looking at this line was, “what about 9. … Nbd7”. Black develops the Knight without blocking the long diagonal and so can always recapture on d5 with the Bishop. This seems like a very sensible way to play to me but Davies doesn’t mention it at all.
This position is very similar to the first. The only difference here is that Black has played … Nbd7 but omitted … c5. This is also a common line in the Reti and in fact was reached in the famous game 24 of the Kasparov – Karpov Seville world championship match.
Karpov played 9. … Ne4 here. Davies analyses this game and also looks at 9. … Nc5 and 9. … a5 but again doesn’t even consider 9. … c5 which transposes into the line I mention above.
Evidently I’m not the only one that thinks combining … Nbd7 with … c5 is a good idea. Over the last year I’ve faced that variation four times during Internet and Club games – but not once has anyone played the lines that Davies suggests.
Ray Keene’s Flank Openings is not much better. He also gives more attention to other lines but does at least give snippets of two games in this troublesome (for me at least) line.
Going back to the first diagram Keene quotes Polugaevsky – Petrosian, USSR 1970 as continuing,
9. … Nbd7, 10. d3 Rc8, 10. Qe2 Qc7, 12. e4 d4, 13. Nb1?! and Black went on to win in 36 moves.
Keene suggests 13. Nb5 leads to equality and also mentions 10. d4!? though without additional comment. He then gives Bobotsov – Najdorf, Siegen Olympiad 1970 as,
9. Nbd7, 10. d3 Qc7, 11. Qe2 Bc6!?, 12. Rfd1 Qb7, 13. d4 Rfd8, 14. Ne5?!
and again Black won on move 36. Keene suggests 14. cxd5 instead but doesn’t give any further analysis or assess the position.
Black seems to be doing fine when he mixes … c5 and … Nbd7 together. To my eyes it seems a much more obvious way to play than blocking the long diagonal with … Nc6. In any event, the players I come up against – typically within the range 120-150 BCF although sometimes a little more or a little less – favour this set up over any other.
So why does Davies ignore it entirely why Keene only gives it a cursory glance?
Oh and one more question, what’s a good plan against it?