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White wins 6-2 in this bloodthirsty update, but Black need not despair. The Sicilian is very much alive and kicking! We'll see that experienced Sicilian authorities like Moiseenko and Timofeev lost due to surprisingly choosing dodgy lines, while Khalifman improved against his own recommendation for White ahead of losing his way.

Download PGN of April '12 Open Sicilian games

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The Kalashnikov [B32]

After 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 e5 5 Nb5 d6 6 N1c3 a6 7 Na3 b5 8 Nd5 Nf6 White can avoid transposition to the Sveshnikov. Shirov opted for the uncompromising 9 c4 Nxd5 10 exd5!? and after 10...Nd4 11 cxb5 g6 12 Be3 Bg7 13 Bxd4! exd4 14 Bd3 it's hard to believe that Black has enough compensation:

The dark-squared bishop is blunted and White seems to be able to maintain control of the situation on both flanks, going on to score a crushing victory in Shirov - Sitnikov.

The Sveshnikov 11 Bxb5!? [B33]

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 Ndb5 d6 7 Bg5 a6 8 Na3 b5 doesn't have to be met by 9 Nd5 Be7 10 Bxf6 Bxf6 11 c4, even if it was in one high-level Sveshnikov encounter from the recent European Championship, as we'll see. Instead 9 Bxf6 gxf6 10 Nd5 f5 11 Bxb5!? (there have also been developments after that other piece sacrifice, 11 Bd3 Be6 12 c3 Bg7 13 Nxb5!?) 11...axb5 12 Nxb5 is rarely seen these days:

However, Black needs to know his stuff here, beginning with 12...Ra4. Instead a Sveshnikov expert preferred 12...Ra7?!, which left him struggling and White scored a major upset in Weichhold - Moiseenko.

The Kan 5 Nc3 [B43]

The variation 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6 5 Nc3 b5 6 Bd3 Qb6 is making a comeback, thanks to developments in the line 7 Nf3 Qc7 8 0-0 Bb7 9 Re1 Be7! where Black is solidly placed and has done well in recent practice. That may explain why White preferred 7 Nb3 Qc7 8 0-0 Bb7 9 Qe2 Nf6 10 f4 in Movsesian - Pantsulaia:

Black may be OK here, but White's position is easy to play and the Georgian Grandmaster was put to the sword in quick fashion.

The Taimanov 6 Be3, 7 f4!? [B48]

One might even argue that the critical test of the move order 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Be3 Nf6 is 7 f4!?. Recently Shirov was able to show why Black shouldn't go 7...Qb6? and 7...Bb4 8 Ndb5 Qa5 9 e5 is the main line:

Quite an interesting idea here is 9...Ne4, but after 10 Qd3 Black should avoid 10...f5?! which quickly led to White obtaining a strong grip on the position following 11 exf6 Nxf6 12 0-0-0 in Svidler - Timofeev.

The Najdorf: Perenyi Attack [B81]

It's been a while since we discussed the main line of the Perenyi Attack with 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e6 7 g4 e5 8 Nf5 g6 (8...h5!? is a decent sideline) 9 g5 gxf5 10 exf5 d5:

Black has been doing quite well of late with the relative sideline 11...Ne4!? and another, namely 11...d4 12 0-0-0 Nbd7 13 Bd2 Bb4!?, brought him success in Stefansson - Smeets.

6 Be3 e6 [B80]

In his Opening for White According to Anand series, Khalifman prefers 7 f3, meeting the topical 7...b5 8 Qd2 Nbd7 9 g4 b4 10 Nce2 h6 11 0-0-0 Qc7 with 12 h4 d5 13 Bf4!?:

Ironically he had to face this in Akopian - Khalifman where he improved over his own analysis with 13...e5 14 Bh2 dxe4 15 g5 and then 15...hxg5!?, which gave him good counterplay.

6 Be2 [B92]

A much calmer line in general is 6 Be2 e5 7 Nb3 Be7, but not if White then goes 8 g4!?. However, after 8...h6! Black shouldn't have any real problems and his position was fine out of the opening before he went in for too slow a plan in Movsesian - Perunovic.

6 Bg5 Old Main Line 10 g4 [B99]

Finally, I thought it was time that we looked at a topical idea in the Old Main Line, 6 Bg5 e6 7 f4 Be7 8 Qf3 Qc7 9 0-0-0 Nbd7 10 g4 b5 11 Bxf6 Nxf6 12 g5 Nd7 13 f5 0-0!?:

This may look quite risky, but Black's defences are in decent shape whether White exchanges on e6 or goes 14 f6. The young Chinese player Ju Wenjun has had some pretty decent results on the black side and I'm not surprised that the line is gradually becoming more popular, as we'll see in Braun - Navara.

That's all for this month. No doubt there will be more developments from the super-strong Russian Team Championship to discuss in May! Until then,


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