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Dear Subscribers,
This time we have some especially uncompromising battles. The fact that none of the games were drawn tells its own tale. As always, we have important novelties in various theoretical lines.

Download PGN of July '15 Open Sicilian games

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Sveshnikov 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 Bg7 11.Bd3 [B33]

Our first game Kokarev,Dm - Shariyazdanov,A saw a theoretical discussion in one of the longest lines in the Sveshnikov. In the well-known theoretical position after 15...Qb7 GM Kokarev introduced an interesting novelty, 16.Rfd1!?:

His experienced opponent failed to react properly, so after the 18th move White's positional advantage was indisputable. Even though Shariyazdanov's further play in this game wasn't great, White's convincing victory is quite impressive. Anyway, Kokarev's idea definitely requires more practical tests.

Kan/Taimanov 6.f4 Nxd4 7.Qxd4 a6 [B47]

In our next game Smirin,I - Avrukh,B the players entered into a complex theoretical line, where White tried a rather rare setup with 10.Be2.

Black's 12th move doesn't seem to be the most precise, but in the Diagram position after 14...b4 Ilya went forthea dubious novelty, 15.Ne2?!, which led to an inferior position. Moreover, had Boris played 21...Bd5!, it would have been very difficult to stay in the game. Luckily for Smirin, GM Avrukh wasn't at his best, so White was able to get a full point at the end. In general, the whole setup with 10.Be2 doesn't seem to pose Black any problems.

Classical Richter-Rauzer 7....Be7 8.0-0-0 0-0 9.h4 [B63]

An interesting theoretical discussion took place in Demchenko,A - Popov,Iv, where White tried a rare setup with 9.h4!?, followed by 10.Be2:

It looks like this attempt to pose Black new problems in one of main lines of the Rauzer definitely requires more practical tests. In fact, Ivan failed to find the most precise way of handling this original position, so after 15.Bf3! White got dangerous play along the g-file. Alas, Anton was unable to extend his initiative, and after 17.Ne4? it was Black who pushed for a win, and eventually achieved it.

It looks like Black's best response to 10.Be2 should be 10...Bd7, as played by the great Mikhail Tal.

Scheveningen with 7.Qd2 Be7 8.f3 0-0 9.0-0-0 a6 [B80]

In the next encounter Pruijssers,R - Van Wely,L, the players entered into one of sharpest lines of Scheveningen, when Roeland employed the rather rare 12.Nxc6. This way of handling the position looks quite dangerous, though 12.Qg2 is much more popular. In fact, the critical position after 14...Qa5 seems promising for White:

Unfortunately, Roeland's play in this game wasn't impressive, so the experienced GM Loek Van Wely was able to seize the initiative and win in a nice style. Anyway, the whole concept with 12.Nxc6 definitely deserves more attention.

The Scheveningen Be2 Main line with 11.Qe1 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 [B85]

In my opinion, the game Wei,Yi - Bruzon Batista,L is one of most beautiful which we have ever seen on our site. Even though 16...Qd8?! was played by strong players, the Diagram position after 16.Bd3 definitely requires a more precise way of handling, which is probably 16...Re8.

Anyway, White's novelty on move 21, followed by 22.Rxf7! and many other sacrifices, reminds us of the romantic chess games of Paul Morphy!

Najdorf 6.h3 Nc6 7.g4 Qb6 [B90]

Our next game Yu,Yangui - Dominguez Perez,L has a significant theoretical value as well. First of all, I have to mention that 7...Nc6 is objectively an inferior alternative to the usual retreat 7...Nf6, since 8.Be2 looks rather unpleasant. At the same time, after 8.h3 the players entered into a fashionable line, which usually starts with 6.h3.

In the Diagram position after 13...Nd7 White came up with an original novelty 14.Bf4, but failed to pose Black any problems. Moreover, had Leinier played 21...Qb7 or 23...Bb7, I would definitely prefer his position. However, the Cuban Grandmaster went wrong with 23....Bb7? and after 24.f5 came under strong pressure. Even though both players committed some mistakes, White's further play was very energetic and strong, so his victory is well-deserved.

In general, the whole concept of chasing the knight from d4 looks perfectly playable for Black at the moment.

Najdorf 6.h3 e6 7.g4 h6 [B90]

The top level game Anand,V - Vachier-Lagrave,M is one more illustration of Anand's deep theoretical preparation.

The position after 10....Nd7 was covered on our site in the game Anand,V - Mamedyarov,S, where the Azeri Grandmaster was able to solve all his problems quite easily. This time Vishy went for 11.0-0, which seems to be the only way to fight for an opening advantage. The players were following another fascinating game Navara,D - Grischuk,A till move 17, when Maxime introduced the natural novelty 17...Bb7. White's reaction was perfect, so after the inaccurate 18...Rbd8? Vishy was able to develop a crushing attack and win in nice style. In general, the potential threat of a piece sac on h6 is extremely annoying, but 18....Kh7 might yield Black adequate play. No doubt further practical tests are needed for a clear assessment.

Najdorf 6.Be3 Ng4...10.h3 Ne5 11.Nd5 [B90]

In our last game Ponkratov,P - Artemiev,V both players didn't mind deviating from the main theoretical paths at an early stage. Indeed, 10.Nd5 was already a very rare move, when instead of 11....Nbc6 12.Nf5 (which would transpose to the main line), Vlad came up with an early novelty 11...e6.

This reaction doesn't seem the most effective, since in the Diagram position after 13...bxc6 White has a promising plan, starting with 14.c3! Alas, Pavel wasn't on top form, so after 14.Bxe5 Bxe5 15.Nc4 Rb8! Black got a comfortable position. Moreover, the inaccurate 16.c3? led White to a very difficult position, and Artemiev was able to achieve a convincing victory.

See you next month!

Enjoy! Michael Roiz

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