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Hi all,
This month there were so many exciting Sicilian battles, so once again selecting only 8 was no easy task. This time almost all the games were played in the same (but really huge) event - the Individual European Championship, but the most attractive one (in my opinion) is from Grenke.

Download PGN of April ’18 Open Sicilian games

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Sveshnikov 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c4 [B33]

Our first game, Nevednichy ,V - Moiseenko, A, saw White employing the aggressive 14.h4, that previously posed Alexander some problems. However, this time GM Moiseenko came up with a decent novelty 17...Nb8! which seems to offer Black comfortable play:

Moreover, the inaccurate 22.b3? allowed Black to open-up the f-file and develop a dangerous initiative. The further play was full of mutual mistakes, where the higher-rated player eventually managed to win.

Taimanov 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 Be7 [B48]

The next game, Volokitin, A - Chigaev, M, saw the rare 7...Be7!?, which is aimed at eliminating the major line with 7...Nf6 8.f4. In response, White played 8.f4 and took the game into almost unexplored territory. The first critical moment came after White's innovation 9.Nxc6:

It looks like the correct 9...Qxc6 would have led to a complex position with mutual chances, while Maxime's 9...dxc6?! invited some trouble. The second critical moment took place on move 16, when 16.Bxc5?! spoiled all of Andre's advantage. Moreover, in the end it was GM Chigaev who missed a great chance to win the game.

Taimanov 6.Be3 a6 7.Qf3 Nf6 8.0-0-0 Ne5 [B48]

The top-level game Vachier Lagrave, M - Anand, V saw Maxim employing a dangerous and well-prepared idea in one of the most fashionable lines of the Taimanov. In the theoretical position after 9...b5 White played 10.a3!?:

which was followed by a bishop sacrifice. In response Vishy came up with a decent novelty, 11...Rc8!, which seems to offer Black adequate play. The really critical moment came on move 21, when Vishy played 21...Rfe8? and got into a difficult position. Had Black played 21...Qc4! his problems would have been fully solved.

In general, it was a very well-played game by the French Grandmaster. No doubt we will see more tests of 10.a3!? soon.

Scheveningen English attack 7.a3!? [B80]

Another new opening idea was seen in Paravyan, D - Grandelius, N. The position after 6...e6 is a major part of Nils's repertoire, but it looks like 7.a3!? came as a surprise:

In response he came up with the somewhat risky novelty 7...h5, and after 8.Be2 Nbd7! obtained an acceptable position. However, a few moves later GM Grandelius started to go astray (especially with 17...g6?) and was quickly crushed.

Regarding the opening, 7.a3!? definitely deserves further practical tests.

Najdorf 6.h3 e5 7.Nde2 h5 8.Bg5 [B90]

An interesting theoretical discussion was seen in Mitinian, N - Indjic, A, where Nikita employed the aggressive 9.f4, which has gained some popularity recently. It looks like Alexander was well-prepared for it, so after some natural play the players entered into an interesting double-edged position after 15...Qa5!:

Alas, at this point Nikita started to go astray, so after just a few moves White's position collapsed.

Instead, had White played 16.b3!, all 3 results would be possible. Anyway, 9.f4 doesn't seem to pose Black serious problems.

Najdorf 6.Be3 e5 7.Nf3 Be7 8.Bc4 0-0 9.0-0 Be6 [B90]

The next game, Sjugirov, S - Wojtaszek, R, saw White employing the decent novelty 13.Ng5! in one of those quiet, but fashionable lines of the Najdorf. In the critical position after 15.a4:

Radoslaw wrongly played 15...Qc6?!, so he was then doomed to passive defence. Black's position looked bad for a long time, but Sanan's two mistakes on moves 28 and 29 spoiled everything, so the game was drawn.

Even though 15...b6! might be a good solution, Sanan's innovation should still be tested more.

Najdorf 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qe2 h6 8.Bh4 [B94]

Another interesting theoretical discussion took place in Sarana, A - Zhigalko, S, where the higher-rated opponent employed the rare and risky 8...b5?! :

The really critical moment of the game came on move 13, when the impulsive 13.e5?, followed by 14.Ndxb5? led Alexey into a completely lost position. Luckily for GM Sarana, his opponent missed several winning possibilities, so the game ended in a short, but spectacular draw.

No doubt 8...b5?! can definitely not be recommended, since White can choose between two promising ways of extending the initiative.

Najdorf 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qd2 [B94]

In the last encounter between 2 creative players Savchenko, B - Cheparinov, I the players quickly deviated from the main theoretical paths. First, Boris played 7.Qd2 , which is already a new move for our site. Ivan's reaction doesn't seem the most challenging, since White got a favorable version of the English Attack. Moreover, the decent innovation 12.Qf2!:

followed by 15.0-0-0! made it difficult for Black to develop any activity, so Ivan had to suffer for a long time. The further interesting play was full of mutual mistakes, but the really dramatic moment came on move 27, when 27.Kb1?? turned the tables and White was quickly crushed. Instead, had Boris played 27.Kd2 Black still would be in big danger.

See you next month, Michael

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