ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
The exciting World Cup is currently in progress, and we already have some Sicilians for this Update. Curiously, this time 7 out 8 games ended in a White victory, and where the only draw is a dramatic save in the tie break. I hope Najdorf fans won't be confused this month - there is just 1 game in this section.

Download PGN of August ’23 Open Sicilian games

>> Previous Update >>

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

We start with a long theoretical discussion that occurred in Wei, Y - Supi, L. The position after 18...Bf6:

was analyzed a few years ago in Svidler - Caruana, but the 19.Bb4 played by Wei Yi is practically unexplored. It doesn't seem to pose Black serious problems, though, and after 19...f4! White's king might even come under an attack. However, the surprise effect affected Luis and Black carelessly played 20...Bg7?, allowing White to make lots of progress with c4-c5. Even so, White let his advantage disappear with 23.Rae1? and only Black's impulsive 28...h3? turned out to be a decisive mistake.

Kan 5.Bd3 Bc5 6.Nb3 Be7 7.Qg4 g6 [B42]

The next game, Avila Pavas, S - Smirin, I, is a perfect illustration of deep home preparation. GM Smirin has a wide experience in the somewhat risky line with 6...Be7, and he scored many wins as Black, including Blomqvist - Smirin, Batumi 2018. For some reason, Ilia decided not to deviate from his play in that game, and the position after 16...Kg7 occured almost instantly:

It looks like Santiago did his homework and followed my recommendation with 17.f4! putting Black's k-side setup under long-lasting pressure. Ilia was naturally fighting against the e4-e5 break, but 19...Rad8?! was a serious mistake, allowing White to liquidate into a much better endgame with 22.Qb6! Santiago's further play was decent, and he scored a well-deserved victory.

Kan 5.Bd3 Bc5 6.Nb3 Ba7 [B42]

In his next game of the match with Black Ilya prefered 6...Ba7, and this was a reasonable choice. Santiago deviated from So - Dubov with 9.Nc3:

Now 9...b5! came in time, yielding Black decent counter-attacking possibilities. The really critical moment came on move 14, when GM Smirin made a faulty strategic decision by challenging White's centre with 14...f6?! followed by 15...Qxf6?! White obtained a clearly better endgame, where Black's pieces were not coordinated and the backward pawn on d7 was very weak. Even so, Black could still have resisted, but 17...Nd4? was a terrible blunder and the game practically lost all its intrigue, see Avila Pavas, S - Smirin, I.

Kudos to Ilia Smirin, who managed to recover from both losses and eventually qualified for the next round!

The Four Knights 6.a3 Be7 [B45]

The 'modest' 6.a3 is becoming more and more pupular nowadays. This time we have 2 games that saw 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nd5:

First, in Albornoz Cabrera - Suleymenov White opted for 9.Qg4 g6 10.Qg3 d6 11.Ne4:

With with rare move Carlos Daniel managed to confuse his lower-rated opponent, who impulsively played 17...Qf5? which leads to a difficult endgame. The further play was full of mutual mistakes, but it illustrates Black's issues in the endgame with opposite color bishops quite well.

Second, in Bjerre, J - Guseinov, G White went for the immediate 9.Ne4:

It was a must-win situation, and Jonas's choice paid off - Gadir wrongly reacted with 10...Qb6?! and came under strong positional pressure. Even though GM Bjerre soon returned the favor with 13.b4? Black's practical task was much tougher right till the end of the game, and only the dramatic 41.Kf3?? allowed Gadir to escape and qualify for the next round.

In general, both after 11.Ne4 and 9.Ne4 Black should be able to solve his problems.

Four Knights 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Nd5 8.Ne4 Qc7 9.f4 Qb6 10.a3 [B45]

The game Moussard, J - Le, Quang Liem saw the players enter a sharp theoretical position after 14.Bd3:

Black reasonably deviated from Paravyan - Morovic Fernandez, but the way he did it is dubious - 15...Qxb2? immediately put him on the verge of a collapse. Black's position was extremely tough to handle (especially for rapid), and after 19...Rg8? White managed to quickly develop a crushing attack.

In general, 14...d5!? still looks acceptable for the second player. Another decent option is 10...Ne3!?, as played by GM Vidit.

Classical Richter-Rauzer 7...a6 8.0-0-0 Bd7 9.Kb1 [B67]

In the next game, Firouzja, A - Vokhidov, S, Alireza chose the rare 12.Be2 in order to take his opponent out of his comfort zone:

This fully paid off, as Shamsiddin immediately went astray with 13...b4? and after 14.e5! White's lead in development prevailed.

Undoubtedly, the real test of Alireza's idea would be seen had Black played 13...h6! Also, 12...Rc8!? deserves serious attention.

Najdorf 6.Bd3 g6 [B90]

The last game, Sychev, K - Volokitin, A, saw a theoretical discussion in one of the mainlines with 6.Bd3. In the position after 13.0-0:

Andrei came up with the decent novelty 13...Rc8! Black's conceptual idea is that his active piece play should compensate for the weak d6-pawn. Indeed, the energetic 15...Nd4! followed by 16...d5! provided Black enough play in the centre. The critical moment came on move 20, when GM Volokitin carelessly played 20...Rc7?, allowing 21.Nd5. This made White's position absolutely winning, but Klementy's further play wasn't so precise - had Andrei found 37...c4! the game would most likely end in a draw.

See you next month, Michael

>> Previous Update >>

Please feel free to share any of your thoughts at the Open Sicilians Forum, or subscribers can write directly to