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We've a number of topical lines to catch up on this month and while I haven't managed to fit them all in, we will see key developments in the likes of the Taimanov version of the English Attack, the 6 h3 Najdorf and the Poisoned Pawn.

Download PGN of July '13 Open Sicilian games

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The Kan 5 Bd3 Nf6 [B42]

Over the years we've often looked at 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6 5 Bd3 Nf6 6 0-0 Qc7, which remains part of Ivanchuk's large repertoire. Following 7 Qe2 d6 8 c4 g6 9 Nc3 Bg7 10 Nf3 0-0 an important tabiya is reached:

I'm not convinced that Mickey Adams' 11 h3!? definitely gives White a plus, but it's likely a better try than the 11 Bf4 Nh5! 12 Be3 Bxc3 13 bxc3 e5 of Grischuk - Ivanchuk.

The Taimanov 5 Nb5 [B44]

Meeting 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 with 5 Nb5 hasn't been too topical in recent years, but was seen twice in the same round of the Beijing Grand Prix. Something of a coincidence, as I'm sure Jim Plaskett has already pointed out. After 5...d6 Leko didn't get too far with 6 Bf4, but 6 c4 Nf6 7 N1c3 a6 8 Na3 Be7 9 Be2 0-0 10 0-0 b6 11 Be3 Bb7 should suit white players with some Hedgehog experience:

Here 12 Qb3!? has been fairly topical of late and Ivanchuk asked some tricky questions in a critical line in Ivanchuk - Wang Yue.

5 Nc3 a6 [B46]

Boris Grachev is a man whom all Taimanov players should keep an eye and we'll look at three of his recent games after 5 Nc3 a6 in Inarkiev - Grachev, with that modern line 6 Be3 Nf6 7 f4 Bb4 being debated in our main game in which Black was outprepared but still managed to hold.

English Attack v Taimanov 8...Be7 [B48]

Veselin Topalov has added the Taimanov to his repertoire, facing 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Be3 a6 7 Qd2 Nf6 8 0-0-0 twice of late. Against Dominguez he opted for 8...Bb4, but later switched from the main line to the trendy 8...Be7 9 f3 b5!? in Karjakin - Topalov:

After 10 g4 Black should avoid Leko's 10...Bb7 11 Bf4!? and so Topalov exchanged on d4, going on to outplay the Russian no.2.

The Scheveningen English Attack 9...h6 [B80]

A key line of the English Attack comes under the microscope this month, namely 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e6 7 f3 b5 8 Qd2 Nbd7 9 g4 h6:

Grischuk keeps defending the sharp line 10 0-0-0 b4 11 Nce2 Qc7 and Black is holding his own here, as we'll see in Karjakin - Grischuk. Perhaps that's why Morozevich tried 10 a3!? which led to one of the most entertaining games of 2013 so far in Morozevich - Nakamura back in Thessaloniki.

The Najdorf 6 h3 [B90], Poisoned Pawn [B97]

I've bowed to popular request and annotated Shirov - Palliser where we debated the trendy line 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 h3 e5 7 Nde2 h5, which continues to score quite well for Black. A more critical move in my opinion (and I may regret those words should I lose to 6 h3 in the forthcoming British Championship!) is 6 Bg5 and you may be wondering why Karjakin didn't employ the move against Grischuk. Indeed, he was doing quite well with the variation earlier in the year, but in Karjakin - Anand Black finally dared to ask what he had in mind after 6...e6 7 f4 Qb6. The answer was 8 Qd2 Qxb2 9 Rb1 Qa3 10 e5 dxe5 11 fxe5 h6 12 Bh4 Nd5 13 Nxd5 exd5 14 e6 Bxe6 15 Rxb7!?:

This has been seen a fair bit in correspondence circles, but had never been seen in OTB play until the Tal Memorial. Moreover, it's not so easy for Black to counter over the board, but the World Champion was typically well prepared and held without any real difficulty, thereby sending Karjakin back to the drawing board.

I'll be back in touch after Torquay.

Until then, Richard

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