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Hi everyone, welcome to another month, with White scoring very well.

Download PGN of April '05 Open Sicilian games

Sveshnikov/Kalashnikov Variation [B32-B33]

The Lowenthal Variation doesn't have a very good reputation, and yet Vallejo Pons used it to beat Kramnik at Monte Carlo last month (see the notes to the next game), so maybe its due for a revival. Unusually, in Djukic - Todorovic White decided to avoid the mainline and steer the game towards a Kalashnikov with 6 N5c3!?, but Black didn't acquiesce with 6...d6 and preferred the more aggressive 6...Bc5:

In Kramnik - Van Wely we continue the saga of the sharp attempt to destroy the Sveshnikov with h4:

It succeeds here but, as you will see from the analysis the actual state of play is quite unclear.

Paulsen/Taimanov [B40 to B49]

Bob Herrera wrote and asked about the line 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3, and now 5...a6 instead of ...Qc7, when White "used to exchange on c6 to prove that a6 was a waste of time and a nice kingside attack would usually follow. I've noticed that some strong players are playing a6 now. Any thoughts as to why they would be doing this? Is it good? What does Black gain?"

This is the position after 6 Nxc6 bxc6, Black gains a strong pawn centre in return for a slight lack of development:

Firstly, here is the game Kramnik - Svidler, where Black actually won quite convincingly, for you to look at.

In fact, whilst finishing this article I was playing at the final weekend of the 4NCL where Svidler again played this line, against Mickey Adams, and this time drew (see the notes). By good fortune I was eating with Peter Svidler that evening and so asked him his opinion of the line. He told me that he doesn't really believe it (!) and thinks Black has some problems if White plays accurately (he felt his position against Kramnik was actually clearly worse in the opening), but that the Black position is surprisingly resilient, and that he has a lot of resources to hold the later positions.

Classical Sozin/Two Knights [B56 to B59]

Felgaer - Illescas Cordoba is an opportunity to look at Smyslov's restraining line with 6 Be2 and 7 Nf3:

In this game Black re-routes his knight from c6 to d7 but ends up two tempi down on a Najdorf. Fed didn't like this too much, but I am not sure it is so bad if Black plays accurately (here he did not).

Richter-Rauzer [B60 to B69]

After 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O Nxd4 9. Qxd4 O-O 10. f4 Qa5, in his excellent section on the Richter-Rauser (in Experts vs the Sicilian), Peter Wells recommends the mainline with 11. Bc4 Bd7 12. e5 dxe5 13. fxe5 Bc6 14. Bd2 for White, but now in Vuckovic - Todorovic Black avoided 14...Nd7, and instead played the risky 14...Bc5!?:

I asked Peter why this wasn't mentioned in his analysis and he seemed surprised and suggested it was because the move is very rare. This is true, but White might as well know how to refute it.

Scheveningen [B80 to B89]

The game Anand - Vallejo Pons features a 'deferred Perenyi Attack':

White's next move is 10 Qe2, leaving the knight to its fate. This piece sacrifice looks almost as dangerous for Black as when played one move earlier, and certainly it must be very difficult to defend this position in a Blindfold game (as here)!

Najdorf [B90 to B99]

Kulaots - Carlsen features the line I recommended in my Najdorf book against 9 Kh1:

It was Gelfand who started playing 9...b6 here, and Black's harmonious system of development (including a destructive Sicilian exchange sac) is now very well established.

Our young hero played an excellent game, but unfortunately blundered and lost in time trouble.

Finally, the soon to be trendy (?) 6 Bg5 against the Najdorf, and I noticed that Fed had concentrated on 10 g4 against the mainline, and wondered about 10 Bd3, which used to be all the rage in my youth (it featured in the Spassky - Fischer match, for instance)

I was much taken by the Navara - Adly game, where, after Black attempted to play the Browne system with 10...h6 White brazenly left his bishop en prise (and trapped!) with 11 h4!?:

I had to dig into my Najdorf books from many years ago to see what was happening here, and with a little help from Hiarcs I think I have found Black's best reply.

Till next month, Tony Kosten


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