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Hi Everyone,
I'm afraid that there are no Sveshnikovs this month in my first update. Not because I don't find that opening extremely fascinating, but rather because there will shortly be a Sveshnikov special on this site. Stay tuned! Instead I've chiefly focused on another topical and very complex variation, namely 10 e5 in the Poisoned Pawn, as well as on a couple of recent Anand games.

Download PGN of April '07 Open Sicilian games

Lowenthal: 8 Qc7 [B32]

This site is unsurprisingly dominated by the elite's encounters and that will continue, but I'll also be doing my best to spot any new or rare ideas in some lower-rated games. Thus if any subscribers see such a move in action, or just have any general Open Sicilian queries, do please drop me an email ( and/or raise it on the Open Sicilians Forum.

One rare but venomous idea which has recently surfaced in the Lowenthal is 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 e5 5 Nb5 a6 6 Nd6+ Bxd6 7 Qxd6 Qf6 8 Qc7 Nge7 9 Nc3 Nb4 10 Bd3 d5 and now 11 f4!?:

I'm very grateful to Yelena Dembo for drawing my attention to this idea which we examine in Skaperdas - Kaloskambis.

Four Knights: 6 Nxc6 [B45]

I must admit that I've long thought that 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 (2...Nc6 3 Nc3 e6 4 d4 cxd4 5 Nxd4 Nf6 is another common route to this position) 6 Nxc6 bxc6 7 e5 Nd5 8 Ne4 offers White good chances for an edge:

However, it appears that with some accurate play Black may be able to fully equalize as he indeed he managed after 8...Bb7 in Anand - Carlsen. Anand deviated from a Kasparov-Grischuk encounter, but was never really able to get anywhere against the wunderkind's accurate play.

Taimanov: English Attack

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Be3 a6 7 Qd2 Nf6 8 0-0-0 Bb4 9 f3 is a line which continues to grow in terms of both popularity and theory. Black's main response remains 9...Ne5, but in a recent rapidplay encounter, leading Taimanov authority Judit Polgar preferred the extremely rare 9...0-0!? against no less an opponent than Anand:

The annotations to Anand - Polgar reveal that this line deserves some further attention, although White may be able to prove a plus with some direct play on the kingside.

Najdorf: 6 Bg5 [B96-9]

Ever since Wijk, Keres' 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bg5 e6 7 f4 Qb6 8 Qd2 Qxb2 9 Rb1 Qa3 10 e5!? has been very much back in the public eye:

A key battleground is currently 10...dxe5 11 fxe5 Nfd7 12 Ne4 h6! 13 Bh4 (or 10...h6 11 Bh4 dxe5 12 fxe5 Nfd7 13 Ne4) 13...Qxa2 14 Rd1 Qd5 when Black will pick up a third pawn on e5. Shirov - Ftacnik continued with the semi-forced 15 Qe3 Qxe5 16 Be2 Bc5 17 Bg3 Bxd4 18 Rxd4 Qa5+ 19 Rd2 0-0 20 Bd6 and now Black introduced the novelty 20...Re8!?

Black must be well prepared to employ this, but it looks like a reasonable alternative to the idea of giving up an exchange with 20...Nc6.

Move order is an important issue after 10 e5. Black can play to reduce White's options with 10...h6, but that gives White the extra option of 11 Bxf6 gxf6 12 exd6!?; an idea considered in Del Rio Angelis-Vallejo Pons.

The leading Poisoned Pawn practitioners currently seem to prefer 10...h6, but I can't see any objective reason to avoid White's sacrificial alternatives after 10...dxe5 11 fxe5 Nfd7. In Del Rio Angelis-Rowson we consider 12 Ne4 h6 and then both the game's rare 13 Rb3 and the amazing 13 Bb5!?. Black players also need to be fully prepared for Keres' original choice of 12 Bc4:

a move which can lead to some fascinating if not fully convincing complications as Manduch - Avellan reveals.

Sticking with the fascinating and popular 6 Bg5, Volokitin recently swapped sides after 6...e6 7 f4 Nbd7 8 Qf3 Qc7 9 g4!?; an idea Tony first considered in Radjabov, T - Volokitin, A. The very recent Volokitin - Petrosian from the European Championship continued 9...b5 10 Bxf6 Nxf6 11 g5 Nd7 12 0-0-0 and now Petrosian deviated from Volokitin's 12...b4, preferring 12...Bb7 when 13 Bh3!? saw White preparing some brutal central sacrifices.

Until next month, Richard


Please feel free to share any of your thoughts with me, whatever they are, suggestions, criticisms (just the polite ones, please), etc. Drop me a line at the Open Sicilians Forum, or subscribers can write directly to