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Hello everyone,
This month was full of various exciting events, so again choosing the games was far from an easy task for me. This time I didn't focus entirely on the top level, but still most of the games have significant theoretical value.

Download PGN of August ’17 Open Sicilian games

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Sveshnikov 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.Bd3 Be6 12.0-0 Bxd5 13.exd5 Ne7 14.Re1 [B33]

We start with an interesting theoretical discussion, which took place in Inarkiev, E - Gelfand, B. The players entered into a long theoretical line where Ernesto didn't manage to claim any superiority in a previous game, a long time ago. Boris came up with the natural novelty 20...Qf6:

, but later he committed a serious mistake, 22...Nf4?, and was nicely outplayed.

Despite the defeat, this line seems perfectly playable for Black after both 20...Qf6 and 20...Qb6!?, which I mostly prefer.

Classical Richter-Rauzer 7...Be7 8.0-0-0 a6 9.f4 Bd7 [B69]

Our next game, Gaehwiler, G - Greenfeld, A, saw White employing the very rare and aggressive 10.g4:

GM Alon Greenfeld, who has a solid experience in the main line with 10.Nf3, didn't react well and after only 12 moves White could have achieved a winning position! However, on his turn Gabriel didn't manage to develop his attack energetically, so had Black played 13...Be8!, the result of this game would be unpredictable. Well, GM Greenfeld definitely wasn't at his best, so the game was eventually decided by a direct attack.

Regarding the Opening, 10.g4 can work well as a surprise weapon, but both 10...Nxd4 and 10...h6!? look perfectly playable for Black.

Najdorf 6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bc1 [B90]

The modest but tricky 8.Bc1!? again worked well for White in Hou, Yifan - Navara, D. In the position after 10...e5:

White employed the fresh setup with 11.b3!?, which was recently successfully played by GM Michael Adams. David's innovation 13...Nf6 didn't change the unfavorable route of game, but after the inaccurate 16.f4?! David had a golden opportunity to complicate matters by means of 16...exf4! Instead, he chose the wrong plan, transferring the knight to b6, and got into big trouble. A well-played game by GM Hou Yifan!

Najdorf 6.h3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f4 [B90]

In the next game, Forcen Esteban, D - Riff, JN, White came up with the interesting novelty 10.g4!?:

Riff's natural response, 10...Rc8, led to very tense play, where Black had adequate compensation for an exchange. The critical moment came on move 17 when the inaccurate 17...Be7?! allowed White to seize the initiative. The next wrong decision, 20...h5?, was already a decisive mistake. In general, a well-deserved victory for Daniel.

No doubt 10.g4!? should be tested more often, but 10...exf4! seems to solve the problems.

Najdorf 6.h3 e5 7.Nde2 b5 8.Nd5! [B90]

In my opinion the game Baklan, V - Duzhakov, I has exceptional theoretical value. Indeed, in the position after 10...Nc5:

Vladimir employed the natural novelty 11.0-0!, which seems to pose Black fresh problems. The really critical moment of the game came on move 15, when 15...Be7 16.Rxa4 Bg5 would have offered Black a worse, but playable position. Instead, 15...Qc8? led to a quick disaster.

So, after 8.Nd5! the ball is now in Black's court.

Najdorf 6.g3 e5 7.Nf3 [B91]

The next game, Naiditsch, A - Zhou, W, saw the rare line with 7.Nf3, which was already seen on our site before. It looks like, in the position after 7...Be7 8.Nh4:

Black shouldn't face any problems after 8...0-0, whereas the innovation 8...g6 yielded White the additional possibility of 9.Ng2. Still, Black's position would have been acceptable had he played 11...Nc6!, but 11...Nbd7?! led Black into a dodgy position, which he was lucky to be able to defend.

In general, 7.Nf3 doesn't promise White anything special, but can be used as a surprise weapon from time to time.

Najdorf 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 h6 8.Bh4 Qb6 9.a3 [B96]

The next, top-level, game, Caruana, F - Vachier Lagrave, M, saw White employing the original novelty 10.Qd3:

As the analysis proves this is definitely not a refutation of Black's setup, but the surprise effect was important, and so after the inaccurate 10...Nbd7?! 11.0-0-0 Maxim found himself in an unpleasant situation. Moreover, the next mistake 12...Ne5?! allowed White to extend his initiative by means of 17.h4! Had White then played 20.Kb1!, it would have been extremely difficult for MVL to stay in the game, but luckily for him, Fabiano started to err and let his advantage disappear. Quite a disappointing draw for GM Caruana.

Najdorf 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7, 13...0-0 [B99]

Our last game, Baron, T - Kaspi, A, saw another theoretical discussion in the long and well-known line with a pawn sac on g5:

In the diagram position after 15.Nce2 IM Kaspi followed my recommendation, so 15...Bb7! was played. On the next move he deviated from my analyses and went for 16...e5 (Instead of 16...Rac8!?). Most probably, this way of handling the position is acceptable for the second player, but the inaccurate 19...g6?! just invited trouble. Luckily for Alexander, Tal didn't manage to extend his initiative on the k-side, so a draw was agreed in a balanced position.

At the moment the line with 13...0-0 looks playable for Black.

See you next month, Michael

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