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John Emms' book Starting out: The Sicilian arrived through the post this morning, and I saw from the introduction, to my surprise, that 1/4 of all games involve the Sicilian Defence, which may be why 1/4 of is also devoted to the Sicilian!
Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if the percentage of Sicilian Defences was even somewhat higher amongst the '2700+ crowd'.
This update concentrates on the Najdorf with some very interesting Poisoned Pawns and a Polugaevsky Variation, and I was helped by IM David Vigorito.

Download PGN of February '07 Open Sicilian games

Paulsen/Taimanov [B40 to B49]

After 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Bc5 6. Nb3 Be7 7. Be3 Epishin has been experimenting with 7...d5!?:

Which reminds me of Bacrot, E - Kamsky, G from a year ago. However, unfortunately for Black in Nakamura, H - Epishin, V he suffered from similarly brutal treatment, and quickly found his queen trapped.

Another Paulsen line with the active ...Bc5 move fared rather better in Starostits, I - Bauer, C, and it was the black dark-squared bishop that did the damage, Black to play and win:

Najdorf, English Attack [B90]

By IM David Vigorito

This month we look at a couple of English Attacks from the Corus supertournament in Wijk aan Zee.

In this first game Van Wely plays a trendy line against Shirov, with 21...Ne5:

In this standard position Shirov starts burning a ton of time and quickly goes astray in a sharp position. He sacrifices a piece, but Van Wely was well prepared. A critical continuation has been suggested for White and it is mentioned in the notes. We take a look at what Van Wely may have had in mind.

The second game shows Ponomariov playing a kind of English Attack without f2-f3. This approach was popular in Wijk aan Zee. This method of play has its plusses and minuses. By playing Qd1-d2 and castling quickly White brings pressure to the d-file more quickly, but Black does not have to worry about g2-g4 just yet. Karjakin did not appreciate some of the points to Ponomariov's move order and he ended up in a passive position where we was quickly blown away, see Ponomariov, R - Karjakin, S.

6 Be2

Back to Tony Kosten!

We don't often see strong players trying Karpov's plan these days, although it would be quite annoying to face if you weren't prepared. Anyway, we now know that Gallagher's plan with 13...Nc5 is a pretty good answer:

See Asrian, K - Andriasian, Z.

6 Bg5

I was surprised to see Polugaevsky's Variation being given an outing in Jakovenko, D - Smeets, J, but Black had a new idea in mind, for after 7...b5 8. e5 dxe5 9. fxe5 Qc7 10. exf6 Qe5+ 11. Be2 Qxg5 12. O-O, he tried the surprising 12...gxf6!?:

At first sight it seems to lose on the spot, but maybe it is playable, and no worse than the alternatives.

There were some very interesting games played in the Poisoned Pawn this last month or so, firstly, Nataf's 14 Rd1, which has been supported by young star Radjabov:

Kasparov suggested Black's best response is 14...Qd5! and this was tried twice by Anand, once as Black and once as White! Don't miss Motylev, A - Anand, V!

In Spraggett, K - Komljenovic, D we see White's main alternative, 9 Nb3, answered by the unusual 9...Nbd7:

Although Black lost very quickly here, I think this is a reasonable alternative to Fischer's 9...Qa3, see the notes.

See you all next month, 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