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Dear Subscribers,
I am glad to introduce another attractive update. As usual all the games were played in the most fashionable opening schemes and offer theoretical novelties and sharp Sicilian battles. Enjoy!

Download PGN of December '14 Open Sicilian games

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The Classical Richter - Rauzer 7.Qd2 a6 8.Nxc6!? [B66]

Our first game Hovhannisyan,R - Gara,T saw an interesting attempt to avoid the well - known theoretical lines with 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.0-0-0:

In the critical Diagram position after 9.0-0-0 Black immediately went wrong with 9...Be7?! and after 10.Bxf6 gxf6 was convincingly outplayed. The real test for the entire line would be 9...d5!, as was successfully employed by Boris Avrukh against Alexander Morozevich. Anyway, this line definitely deserves some attention from Rauzer players.

The Classical Richter - Rauzer 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Bd7 9.f3 Be7 10.Be3 [B67]

An interesting theoretical battle occurred in Luther,T - Kozul,Z, when in the well known theoretical position after 11...Nxd4 White tried the very rare 12.Qxd4. It seems Zdenko's reaction was correct, so the players entered into the complex Diagram position after 14...b5:

Luther's attempt to seize the initiative by a pawn sac was precisely met by Kozul, so Black could be happy with the opening outcome. As a result of mutual mistakes Zdenko scored a quick victory, and anyway, the ball is definitely in White's court in this line.

The Classical Richter- Rauzer 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Bd7 9.f3 h6 10.Be3 [B66]

Our next game Vallejo Pons,F - Gharamian,T also has a definite theoretical importance. The players entered into a well-explored theoretical position after 11.Kb1:

Here Black tried the rare 11...Be7. However, this continuation will hardly find many followers since Vallejo Pons was able to develop a strong initiative with simple means. Nevertheless, his inaccurate 24th move could have spoilt all the advantage had Tigran played 24...Rc5! Luckily for White, Gharamian wasn't on top form, so finally Francisco was able to convert his material advantage into a full point. In general, my analyses prove that Black is experiencing some problems everywhere in this line, so 9...h6 doesn't look too attractive at the moment.

The Scheveningen English Attack 8.Qd2 b4 9.Nd1!? [B80]

The encounter Akopian,V -Grandelius,N was actually a continuation of an interesting theoretical discussion. The modest-looking 9.Nd1!? seems rather unpleasant for the second player, since Black's active possibilities are limited in this line:

In fact, in the Diagram position (After 9.Nd1) I failed to find an attractive alternative to 9...Be7, which is still quite problematic for Black, according to my analyses to the preceding game between the same players. However, for some reason, Vladimir deviated from the known paths with the risky novelty 10.Qxb4, and a few moves later he found himself under pressure. Unluckily for Nils, one serious mistake on move 21 drastically changed the route of the game, so he lost. In general, 9.Nd1!? looks quite annoying for Black at the moment

The Scheveningen with 8.Qd2!? [B84]

The game Ponomariov,R - Ivanchuk,V was full of mutual mistakes, but it has a serious theoretical value. The entire plan with 8.Qd2, followed by 0-0-0 is new for our site, and it definitely looks promising for White.

In the critical Diagram position after 10...Qc7 White missed a golden opportunity to seize the initiative with the standard pawn sac 11.g4! Moreover, some further mistakes, such as 13.Kb1?! and 17.Bh5? seemed likely to lead to a disaster. However, Vassily wasn't at his best, and so the game ended in a draw. Anyway, I believe we will see many followers for Ruslan's ambitious set-up in the future.

Najdorf with 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.h3 Nbd7 9.g4 h6!? [B90]

The game Seyb, A - Safarli, E saw an interesting way to handle a fashionable line with the black pieces. It looks like White's play was more or less optimal (only 11.Bg2!? and possibly 15.Nd4!? may be suggested as an improvement), so the players entered into a critical position after 15.Nd5:

Here Safarli went wrong with 15...Nxd5?! and could have faced serious problems. However, his opponent didn't manage to increase his initiative and was quickly outplayed. Anyway, 15...Bxd5! was much stronger and should be OK for Black. In general, 9...h6!? Looks a bit risky, but offers Black interesting play as well.

Najdorf with 6.h3 e6 7.g4 Nfd7 8.g5 [B90]

Our next game Van Kampen,R - Al Sayed,M saw another fashionable line of the Najdorf. White went for an aggressive plan with an early k-side attack, and Black came up with the new idea 10....Nb6:

This plan looks somewhat slow, so had White played 12.Qf3 or 13.Nxc6!, Black would face some problems. Instead, the natural-looking 13.g6?!, followed by 18.b3? enabled Black to grab the advantage, which he could have converted into a full point on move 28. Luckily for Van Kampen, he was able to achieve a draw at the end. Overall, Black is doing OK in this line, but the second player should choose another way to handle the position.

Najdorf with 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Bc4 Qa5 [B94]

Our last game in this issue, Ortiz Suarez,I - Barrientos,S, has, in my opinion, colossal value for the well-known line with 7...Qa5. The players entered into a complex position after 11.Rhe1:

Here Black has a wide choice of possibilities, but his position looks shaky everywhere. At the moment Black's best try seems 11...Nc5!?, but it requires further practical tests. Instead, the natural developing move 11....Be7?! was nicely refuted by 12.Nf5! Unfortunately, White didn't manage to play precisely later on (missing 14.f4!), so Barrientos was able to achieve a normal position. The position was balanced till move 29, when Black committed a terrible mistake and eventually lost.


I wish everybody a happy new year and see you next month! Michael

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