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I am back from a fairly hectic summer, and two weeks at Besancon playing a strong GM tournament.
There were lots of really interesting Najdorfs again this month, featuring some of the sharper lines. Next month I intend to concentrate on the Sozin and Two Knights as I have promised to update (or 'freshen') my Classical Sicilian CD for ChessBase, and I need to see what has been happening recently. TonyK

Download PGN of August '06 Open Sicilian games

Sveshnikov Variation [B33]

Zoltan Almasi was successful with his pet anti-Sveshnikov line once again, 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nd5 f5 11. Bd3 Be6 12. c3 Bg7 13. Nxb5 axb5 14. Bxb5:

I am surprised that this line is not more popular, as White has an easy plan, pushing his queenside pawn mass, and Black's extra piece (the bishop on g7) often plays a very peripheral role, see Almasi,Z-Wang Yue.

In the Positional Variation Radjabov has recently been experimenting with 15...Bd7, an old idea of Sveshnikov himself:

This appears to be a good move, see the analysis to Volokitin, A - Radjabov, T.

Scheveningen [B80 to B89]

Instead of the standard 10. 0-0-0, Leko tried the move 10. Bc4!? in Leko, P - Gelfand, B:

This seems to be only the second time this natural move has been played, and although Black did well in both games, I can't help feeling that we will be seeing a lot more of this move in the future.

Najdorf [B86/7 & B90 to B99]

Once more this month is dominated by top-level Najdorfs.

Firstly, the positional 6. Be3 e5 7. Nf3:

This line used to worry me a bit, but not anymore, see Almasi, Z - Berkes, F where Berkes shows that Black has another good equalising method.

Next, we have 3 games featuring 6. Bg5 and 7...Nbd7, firstly Radjabov, T - Volokitin, A (yes, another game between these two from the same tournament!) where Radjabov plays the unusual 9. g4 and after 9...b5 the game continues 10. Bxf6 Nxf6 11. g5 Nd7 12. O-O-O, giving Black the option to transpose into the Mainline with ...Be7:

Instead he prefers 12...b4 and is hit by the bombshell 13. Nd5!. I think that White gets more than enough compensation for his piece after this, but just when he seemed to have matters well in hand, he allows a really stunning counter combination which just wins for Black! Or rather 'should have won for Black', as a series of blunders in time trouble spoils everything.

Don't miss this game!

Well, if that wasn't exciting enough, the next two games feature the hyper-sharp move 10. Bxb5!?:

Naiditsch, A - Gelfand, B from a month ago shows near perfect defence from Black, when it seems that a draw by repetition should be the correct result.

Whilst analysing this last game I was struck by the number of players who didn't seem to be aware of the classic king hunt of Tal, M - Stean, M, as they inadvertently threw away the win by trying to 'improve' on Tal's play! So, as this is clearly a game that every Najdorf player should know, I decided to give it the full treatment!

Finally, Francesco wrote: «I'm a fan of the Najdorf Poisoned Pawn, but recently I've been quite disappointed since several players played for a quick draw against me in the opening with 13.Be2 Be7 14.0-0 0-0 15.Rb3 Qc5+ 16.Be3 Qe5 17.Bd4 Qa5 18.Bb6:

Is there any method to avoid a quick draw in the 13 Be2 line?»

This is a line that has been used hundreds of times to make a quick draw. I had a good look and, to be perfectly frank, I think that this probably represents Black's best play, and so a draw is the correct result! Of course, this leaves the problem of how to play for a win against lower-rated opposition, and I used the game Mueller, M - Schlosser, P to examine Black's most promising option.

However, I have to say that Black was really playing with fire here, and at the moment he finally accepted the draw Philipp was actually completely lost!!

Sorry that I can't be more helpful Francesco!

Lastly, Matthias asked: «I was wondering what is the difference between the Kan Sicilian and the Paulsen?»

That's a good question! As far as I can see they are the same: I have a book on the Paulsen, and also one on the Kan, and they both give the same starting position (1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6) - instead, in the Taimanov, Black develops his queen's knight to c6 early on. Anyway, if you look in the Paulsen/Taimanov eBook you will find lots of Kan variation games, or you can search for games with ECO codes B41-B43. Tony Kosten


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