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Hello everyone,
For the second time in a row this update should especially please Sveshnikov fans - 3 games, and all played by real experts. Actually, there was a chance for more, but eventually I decided to select theoretically important games in other Sicilians. Naturally most of these games were played in the European Championships, which was perhaps the most exciting event to watch!

Download PGN of April ’19 Open Sicilian games

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Sveshnikov 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5 Ne7 [B33]

We start with the top level game Karjakin, S - Carlsen, M, where Sergey challenged his opponent in the fashionable 7.Nd5 line, which became very popular after the world championship match. In the position after 14...h5:

White deviated from Magnus's previous encounter with the natural 15.Bg5, forcing Black to retreat his queen to b8. The next few moves led to a critical position on move 20, when 20.Qa4+!? would seem to pose Black definite practical problems. Instead, after 20.0-0 0-0 21.Bxh5 Ne5 Black got excellent play for a pawn. The next critical moment came on move 26, when the passive 26.Nc3? allowed Magnus to seize the initiative and win the game in a nice style.

Sveshnikov 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5 Nb8 9.a4 [B33]

Another interesting theoretical discussion took place in 2 of Boris Gelfand's recent games. The position after 13...a5 was already seen in Boris's practice, but this time he met 2 new continuations. First, in Azarov,S - Gelfand, B White played the ambitious 14.f4:

and soon got a better position. The really critical moment of the game came on move 17, when GM Azarov went astray with 17.Ra3?! and allowed his opponent to consolidate. Instead, the natural 17.Bf3 would have put Black in a difficult situation.

A few days later, in Esipenko, A - Gelfand, B, Boris faced another fresh idea, 14.c3, and also failed to solve his problems. This encounter was full of mutual mistakes, but in general the young Russian Grandmaster managed to exploit the strategic drawbacks of Black's setup and won convincingly.

Anyway, Black's play in these games can be improved, both after 14.f4 and 14.c3, so 8...Nb8 remains perfectly viable.

Taimanov 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.0-0-0 Be7 9.f3 [B48]

The next game, Dominguez, L - Shankland, S, saw White employ the interesting novelty 13.Rg1!?:

which definitely might pose Black some practical problems. Indeed, Sam soon went astray with 14...Rfd8?! and came under attack. Luckily, Lenier returned the favor with 20.e5? and 21.g6? and eventually the game ended in a draw.

At the moment 13...e5!? or 14...e5! seem to solve Black's problems, but we need more practical tests of Lenier's idea.

Classical Richter-Rauzer 7.Bb5 Bd7 8.Qd3! [B62]

The next game, Ragger, M - Sanal, V has exceptional theoretical value. Indeed, Marcus came up with a promising new way of handling the position with 8.Qd3!:

and quickly achieved a definite positional advantage. Moreover, the careless 15...g5? followed by 18...Bc5? allowed White to effortlessly win the game. Undoubtedly, we will see more tests of 8.Qd3 soon. At the moment, 7...Qb6!? looks like an improvement for Black.

Najdorf 6.Bd3 g6 [B90]

In Anand, V - Navara, D White went for the relatively rare 6.Bd3, while Black took the game into Dragon paths with 6...g6. The players soon reached the critical opening position after 9.Qd2:

Now David chose a dubious plan with 9...Nxd4?! and soon got into big trouble. The further interesting play was full of mutual mistakes, while the most notable miss was 41.Qe7?, which allowed David a nice tactic to force a perpetual.

In general 6...g6 looks playable, but Black has to go for alternative ways of handling the position on move 9.

Najdorf 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 Be7 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 Nbd7 11.g4 b5 12.g5 Nh5 [B90]

The game Caspi, I - Huschenbeth, N saw the players enter the sharp and fashionable position after 14....f6:

that was previously seen a few times on the site. Israel replied with 15.h4 and after a few natural moves the players reached a critical position after 19.Qxb5. At this moment Niclas came up with the dubious novelty 19...Qc7?! that could have invited serious trouble had Israel played 20.Qc6! Well, in general it was an exciting game with mutual mistakes, but where both players missed their winning chances.

Najdorf Poisoned Pawn 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.a3 [B97]

The last game, Grandelius, N - Keymer, V, can be called an opening disaster. It started with the relatively rare 8.a3, that was reasonably met by 8...Nbd7, as recommended in my notes to Nakamura - Neponiatchi, in the archives:

Alas, Vincent soon committed a serious mistake, 12...h6?, so the game lost its intrigue and was decided by a direct attack.

Despite such a defeat 8...Nbd7 looks good enough - in fact, there are several clear ways to improve.

See you next month, Michael

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