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Hello everyone,
For a change most of the games ended in draws this time. However, I hope this fact won't disappoint anybody, as none of the games are boring! The Najdorf is still dominant, but this time we have 3 theoretically important games in the Sveshnikov.

Download PGN of June ’19 Open Sicilian games

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Sveshnikov 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.Bd3 Be6 12.c3 Bg7 13.Nxb5 [B33]

Out first game in this update is Vokhidov, S - Ismagambetov, An. In the important theoretical position after 15.Qa4:











Annuar reasonably deviated from the sacrificial 15...0-0, as was previously seen on our site, and played 15...Bd7. Later, he introduced a natural novelty that seems to offer Black equality, 19...Ne5. However, the impulsive 21...Bxb5? led to a dangerous position, that Black failed to defend. In general, the early piece sac on b5 isn't dangerous for Black, but some knowledge is required.


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

In the next top level game, So, W - Grischuk, A, White employed the relatively fresh (at least for our site) 16.Nc2:











On his turn Alexander illustrated his deep theoretical preparation with 16...f4!, a move that seems to offer Black excellent attacking prospects anyway. Indeed, the dubious innovation 19.Bxa6, followed by 20.Qh5? almost led Wesley to defeat. Luckily for him, at the end GM Grischuk missed a few winning opportunities and was satisfied to share a point.


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

The next game, Vachier Lagrave, M - Carlsen, M, saw Maxim employ the prophylactic 12.Kh1 that was previously tried by David Navara against Magnus:











Despite his success in that encounter, Black was the first to deviate with the novelty 16...f5!? It's hard to say if White had anything better, but the natural 17.Bd3 b6 quickly took the game towards drawish paths.

In general, 12.Kh1 hardly poses Black serious problems.



Najdorf 6.Bd3 e5 7.Nde2 [B90]

Another theoretical discussion took place in Nepomniachtchi, I - Wojtaszek, R. The important position after 14.Rc1:











was previously covered in Anand, V - Keymer, V, Grenke 2019, where Black went astray with 14...Bf8?!. The natural novelty 14...Nc5 was properly analyzed by both players, and they continued to play fast. It's worth mentioning that 16...Rb8! put White under definite pressure on the q-side and provoked the aggressive 17.f4. In general, it was a well-played game, and the balance was kept till the end.


Najdorf 6.Bd3 g6 [B90]

The game Swiercz, D - Gabuzyan, H saw Black come up with the interesting novelty 8...Qb6!?:











White reacted with the natural 9.a3, which led to a complex middlegame position. Later the careless 12...h5?! left Black's pieces undeveloped, so White managed to seize the initiative. However, the decisive mistake was 18...Bb4?, and after that Black was quickly crushed.

Despite such a defeat 8...Qb6!? should definitely be tested more often.


Najdorf 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Qd2 without f2-f3 [B90]

The next game, Morozevich, A - Sakaev, K, can be considered to be another opening accident. First, in the theoretical position after 13...Ndf6:











Alexander deviated from the main paths with 14.Bg5?! This move lead to an unpleasant position, but the real mistake came on the next move, as 15.Rdxf1? was strongly met by 15...b4! which led to major material losses. GM Morozevich struggled hard to save the game, but it was impossible.

Undoubtedly, 14.Kb1 should have been preferred, as it leads to a complex struggle with mutual chances.


Najdorf 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.f4 Qc7 8.Qf3 b5 9.0-0-0 Bb7 [B94]

In Pershin, D - Kokarev, D White played the relatively fresh 10.Nd5!?:











which is connected with a promising pawn sacrifice. Black accepted the challenge and won the central pawn, while his king was stuck in the centre. Had Dmitry played 16...h6 the position would remain balanced, but the careless 16...e6? could have led to a collapse. Luckily for GM Kokarev, his lower-rated opponent missed a few winning opportunities, so at the end White was struggling for a draw.


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

The last game is Kasimdzhanov, R - Abdusattorov, N where Black played 14...d5?!, a move which was previously considered dubious in view of Caruana - MVL, see the archives.











Rustam was the first to deviate from that encounter with 16.Be1, but this also offers White a stable advantage. The first critical moment came on move 22, when instead of 22...Nf8 Black over-optimistically played 22...Nb6? In reply Rustam missed the winning opportunity 24.Ba5! and spoiled the lion's part of his advantage with a few inaccuracies. Still, a draw was agreed in an unpleasant position for Black.

Anyway, instead of 14...d5?! Black has to play 14...Nc5.



See you next month, Michael

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