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Instructive games by Sicilian connoisseurs dominate to an extent this month. Look out for a real masterclass in the Sveshnikov by Krasenkow, while Shirov shows how White can whip up an attack even when Black goes long. However, for once we'll see Topalov on the wrong side of a couple of almost meister-gegen-amateur games against the impressive Vallejo.

Download PGN of July '12 Open Sicilian games

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The Sveshnikov 9 Nd5, 11 c4 [B33]

Many Sveshnikov players emit a sigh when they see the topical 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 Ndb5 d6 7 Bg5 a6 8 Na3 b5 9 Nd5 Be7 10 Bxf6 Bxf6 11 c4:

In a bid to inject some dynamism into the position, Black has dabbled in both 11...Ne7!? and 11...Nd4!?, with subscriber Daniel Sullivan supplying some useful analysis on the underrated latter. However, 11...b4 12 Nc2 0-0 doesn't have to lead to a nagging white edge or even a lifeless draw, as we'll see in our main game, Tirard - Krasenkow.

The Richter-Rauzer 7...Be7, 9 f4 [B65]

After 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Bg5 e6 7 Qd2 Be7 8 0-0-0 0-0 9 f4 Nxd4 10 Qxd4 Black almost invariably moves his queen to a5, but he prefers 10...Qc7!? in Safarli - Jobava:

Definite food for thought, despite the Georgian's overly-ambitious follow-up.

8...Bd7 9 f3 [B67]

A more common alternative for Black is 7...a6 8 0-0-0 Bd7, but Black still has some problems to solve after 9 f4 from what I can see. Daniil Dubov was the star of the recent Russian Higher League, but he came unstuck here, whereas he appeared to obtain a decent enough position after 9 f3 in Kurnosov - Dubov, even if White was later doing pretty well before the game suddenly turned around.

The Scheveningen, Keres Attack 6...e5 [B81]

I've long thought that after the critical 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6 6 g4 quite a decent sideline is 6...e5!?. The key line may well be 7 Bb5+ Bd7 8 Bxd7+ Qxd7 9 Nf5 h5 10 Bg5!? Nh7 11 Bh4:

Now 11...g6 forces White to sacrifice a piece for unclear compensation and could really do with several more tests, whereas 11...hxg4?! 12 Nd5 Nc6 13 h3! was a rather dangerous gambit in Shirov - Valerga.

The Najdorf 6 Bc4 [B86]

We begin our coverage by looking at 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bc4 e6 7 Bb3 Nbd7, which has long had a good theoretical standing without displacing 7...b5 as Black's main choice. A critical line is 8 f4 Nc5 9 0-0!?, but Black can play it safe here and after 9...Be7 10 e5 dxe5 11 fxe5 Nfd7 doesn't have any problems from what I can see:

One might view 12 Bf4 Nf8 as shoring up the kingside while preparing to increase the pressure against e5, but in Carlsson - Cheparinov the knight had somewhat more ambitious intentions.

6 h3 [B90]

Various 'lesser' sixth moves come under the microscope in Vallejo Pons-Topalov, including Kamsky's 6 a4, 6 Qf3 and 6 h3. After that last option, 6...e6 7 g4 Be7 has been doing fairly well for Black, but few as White have sacrificed a tempo with 8 g5!? Nfd7 9 h4:

This does leave White a tempo down on a line of the Keres, but quite a promising line of the Keres at that and Topalov soon found himself in trouble.

6 Be3 e5, ...h5 [B85]

Of late I've quite liked to meet the English Attack, 6 Be3 e5 7 Nb3 Be6 8 f3, with 8...h5!?, eliminating the need for too much memorisation. That said, play can quickly become sharp, with White having a few positions where he can choose between positional and sharp play, such as after 9 Qd2 Nbd7 10 0-0-0 Rc8 11 Kb1 b5 12 g3 Nb6:

Here exchanging on b6 is nothing for White, but he can prepare a dangerous exchange sacrifice with 13 f4 or angle for a positional pull with 13 Bg5, as occurred in Quesada Perez-Nepomniachtchi.

6 Bg5 Delayed Poisoned Pawn [B96]

This year's Capablanca Memorial saw a number of important Sicilian developments, as we've seen, and Dominguez twice had to face 6 Bg5 e6 7 f4. Nepomniachtchi - Dominguez Perez confirmed that in the Delayed Poisoned Pawn Black's cause is holding up well enough after 7...h6 8 Bh4 Qb6 9 a3 Be7 10 Bf2 Qc7. Perhaps, however, Dominguez's other game, which we'll see in the notes, is of even more interest, for there he risked 7...Nc6. What one has to wonder was his idea after 8 Nxc6 bxc6 9 e5 h6 10 Bh4 g5 11 fxg5 Nd5 12 Ne4 Qb6 13 c3?

This has received rather a good press for White of late, with 13...Qxb2? pretty much losing by force, but maybe Black doesn't have to go 13...dxe5 and, as we'll see, one leading 7...Nc6 expert, Stefan Bekker, recently went 13...Rb8!?, which may well save Black's bacon.

Fascinating stuff. Let's hope that all the summer festivals and national championships provide plenty more excitement for us to examine next month!

Until then, Richard

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