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Hello everyone,
As we know, the exciting Candidates tournament is over. Alas, only 2 games from there can be included in this April Update (both were won by the winner Sergey Karjakin!), but the rest of our games were also played by strong players and provide us with many theoretical discussions and uncompromising battles. In fact, once again there are no draws! Enjoy!

Download PGN of April ’16 Open Sicilian games

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Kalashnikov 6.N1c3 a6 7.Na3 b5 8.Nd5 Nf6 [B32]

Our first game Sethuraman - Ismagambetov saw White deviating from the main line with 10.Nc2!?:

As the analysis proves, the only principled reaction would be 10...Nxe4, but even then White's position looks rather promising. Instead of this, Black's 10...Be7 led him into a passive and inferior position. Anuar's further mistakes were nicely exploited by GM Sethuraman, and so his win is well-deserved.

In general, this line looks somewhat shaky for Black.

Kan/Taimanov 6.Be2 a6 7.0-0 Bc5?! [B47]

In our next game Bezgodov - Morozevich, Alexander employed a rare, and rather dubious idea, 7...Bc5:

In my opinion, 9.Qd2, as was previously played by GM Kravtsiv against Morozevich, offers White a small but stable advantage. However, instead of this the game's 9.Nxc6 allowed Black to get adequate play. The really critical moment came on move 15, when Alexei incorrectly went for an exchange sac on f6 and quickly lost the game. Instead, 15.Rde1 would have kept the balance.

Classical 7...a6 8.Qd2 Bd7 9.f4 h6 [B67]

Our next game Karjakin - Caruana was extremely important for the whole of the Candidates Cycle! Fabiano, who desperately needed a win, went for a less explored and risky line with 9...h6 10.Bh4 b5. Then, on his turn, Sergey deviated from the main continuations with 12.f5!?:

As the analyses prove, this way of handling the position might be quite unpleasant for the Second Player. The first critical moment came on move 18, when Sergey missed an excellent opportunity to seize the initiative by means of 18.e5! As a result, Fabiano was able to solve his problems. However, despite his efforts, White's position remained quite safe for a long time. The inaccurate 31.Rc4?! could have invited some trouble, but Black didn't play precisely either. Furthermore, 36...Re4?? 37.Rxd5! allowed Sergey to win this game in fine style.

Najdorf 6.h3 e6 7.g4 Nfd7 [B90]

The next game Karjakin - Topalov also has a significant theoretical value. Veselin, who wasn't at his best in this event, went for an ambitious setup with 11...0-0!?:

and 12...Nb6. Even though this provocative setup puts the king in serious danger, I believe this line is not bad at all. In fact, 12...d5!? and 14...Bf6!? both look perfectly playable for Black. Moreover, had Veselin played 17...Bf6 or 17...Qd7, Black's position would still not be worse. Alas, instead 17...Rc8? turned out to be a decisive mistake and led to a quick disaster.

Najdorf 6.h3 e6 7.g4 h6 [B90]

Our next game Shen - Kovalyov is a typical Opening disaster. In the theoretical position after 10.Qe2:

Black opted for the dubious 10...Qc7? (Instead, 10...g5! seems perfectly playable for Black) and soon got into serious trouble. Even though White's further play wasn't the most precise, the quick win of the lower-rated played was rather convincing.

Najdorf with 6.Nb3 [B90]

Despite the home preparation of GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek, the original idea 6.Nb3!? worked well for Mateusz once again. However, I still like Black's way of handling this rare line. Indeed, in the theoretical position after 9.g5 both 9...Nfd7!? and 9...b4!? (as played by Radoslaw) seem perfectly playable. The first critical moment came on move 10, when Black incorrectly rejected 10...exd5 and came under strong pressure. The further play was full of mutual mistakes, but GM Bartel was luckier, see Bartel - Wojtaszek.

Najdorf with 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qe2 e6 [B96]

Another theoretical discussion took place in Navara - Spoelman, where the players entered a very complex and fairly fashionable line with the pawn sac 11...g5:

In my opinion, David's reaction was quite good, but on move 14 he went wrong with 14.Bg2?! (Instead, 14.a3! would have posed Black definite problems). After this inaccuracy Wouter got sufficient compensation for a pawn. Luckily for David, though, his opponent wasn't at his best, so White was able to achieve victory in good style anyway.

Najdorf with 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.f4 Qc7 8.Qf3 b5 [B94]

Our last game Piorun - Duda saw one more theoretical discussion in a long theoretical line of the Najdorf with 6.Bg5. In the theoretical position after 14...Rc8:

White came up with the interesting novelty 15.Be4!? It doesn't seem very dangerous for the Second Player, but Black's task wasn't easy from a practical point of view. In fact, the inaccuracy 18...Rg8?! (not an obvious one!) led Black into an unpleasant situation, where his king was stuck in the centre. Still, had Duda played 23...f5! Black would get a defendable position, but instead 23...Qd8?! invited more trouble. At the end, White's technique was quite impressive.

See you next month! Enjoy! Michael

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