ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Dear Subscribers,
This month was full of top-level events, so choosing the games wasn't an easy task. Strangely, the Sveshnikov has rarely been seen on this site recently, so I am glad to include 2 important games this time. Enjoy!

Download PGN of July ’16 Open Sicilian games

>> Previous Update >>

Sveshnikov 9.Bxf6, piece sac 13.Nxb5 [B33]

Our first game, Shankland - Shirov, saw an exciting theoretical discussion in one of the sharpest lines with a piece sac for 3 pawns. As the analyses prove, the artificial 15...Nb8!? seems like one of Black's most attractive responses, but Shirov's further play definitely has to be improved.

Indeed, in the Diagram position after 20.0-0 he went for the dubious 20...Nf6?! (Instead, the previously played 20...e4! is much better). Moreover, on move 22 Alexei employed an unsuccessful novelty, which could have led to a quick disaster. Luckily for him, Sam wasn't at his best either, so the game ended in a draw on move 37.

Sveshnikov 9.Nd5, 11.c3 Bg5 12.Nc2 Rb8 [B33]

The game Ganguly - Shirov has exceptional value for one of the most theoretical lines in the Sveshnikov with 9.Nd5.

In the diagram position after 16...a5 GM Ganguly employed the move 17.h4!,which was only tested once in the high-level game Anand-Grischuk. The players were following the above-mentioned encounter till move 20, when Alexei Shirov deviated with 20...e4!?. The real test of this innovation would occur had Black then played 23...Qf6! (according to my analyses, it offers Black acceptable play). Alas, Alexei went wrong with 23...f4?! and quickly got into serious trouble. Ganguly's play in this game is very impressive, and White's victory is well-deserved.

Taimanov 6.Qd3!? [B47]

Our next game Michalik - Horvath saw quite a fresh idea, 6.Qd3!?, which wasn't covered on our site before. It looks like Black's next move 6...a6 is already a definite inaccuracy, and after 7.Nxc6!, followed by 8.Qg3 White's position was better. Despite mutual mistakes in the further play, White's victory illustrates Black's troubles with the development of his k-side pieces very well.

Regarding the opening, 6.Qd3!? looks like another dangerous weapon against the Taimanov. In my opinion, 6...Nf6 appears to be a better way of handling the position, so I expect further practical tests of this.

Taimanov 8.Be3 Bb4 9.Nxc6 [B49]

This time I have no good news for Taimanov funs - it looks like 8...Bb4 is almost refuted! The diagram position after 12...d6 was already explored on our site before and was considered to be problematic for Black:

However, the game Sadzikowski - Neiksans makes the impression even worse: the higher-rated player was practically crushed right after the opening. Since I failed to find any adequate alternatives after 9.Nxc6, I definitely don't recommend putting the bishop on b4!

Najdorf 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.h3 Be7 9.h3 [B90]

In the next game, Sengupta - Areshchenko, the players entered a long theoretical line, which was previously covered on our site in Stukopin- Ludwig.

In the diagram position after 17.a3 Alexander played 17...Bf8, deviating from my recommendation of 17...b5. As the route of the game proves, Black's counter-play seems significant in this case, too. Moreover, the one inaccurate move 19.Bg2?! could have led to unpleasant consequences for White had Alexander played 19...b4! Instead, he went wrong with 19...Nc4?!, but was able to win the game in a nice style anyway.

As before, this line seems perfectly playable for Black, but there are many nuances to study.

Najdorf 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 h5 9.Qd2 Nbd7 10.Nd5 [B90]

The game Nasuta - Hracek saw one of the most important theoretical lines with 8...h5.

In the diagram position after 14...b6 White didn't follow Fabiano's aggressive plan with 15.h3!? and went for the natural-looking 15.c4 instead. It looks like Zbynek wasn't ready for such a scenario, and his reaction 15...Nh7 doesn't seem optimal. On his turn, Grzegorz didn't manage to develop his k-side initiative by means of 16.f4, so Black had no reasons to worry until... the last move, when Zbynek committed a terrible mistake and lost.

Well, at the moment 15.h3 still looks the most dangerous, whereas the 'quiet' 15.c4 should be met by 15...Kh7!, intending to swap the dark-squared bishops.

Najdorf 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 Be7 9.Qd2 h5 [B90]

The theoretical position after 11.Nd5 occurred in the game Leko - Nepomniatchi, where the young Russian Grandmaster employed a rare and rather risky way of handling the position with 11...Bxd5. It looks like Peter Leko was familiar with the character of the play which arose, and he came up with the natural novelty 15.f4!:

Pinpointing the somewhat awkward placement of Black's heavy pieces. Alas, the further play of GM Leko was far from perfect, so Ian was able to score an impressive win after a spectacular battle.

Najdorf 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 Be7 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 Nbd7 [B90]

The last game of this Update is Caruana - Vachier Lagrave, which saw White employing the well-forgotten continuation 12.h4!?:

which wasn't covered on our site before. It looks like this came as a real surprise for Maxime, who already committed a serious mistake on move 14 and came under strong pressure. The first critical moment came on move 23, when Fabiano went wrong with 23.Rhe1?! and spoiled his advantage. Still, he got a second chance after Black's inaccurate 25...Qc4, so had White played 28.Kc2! it would have been very difficult for Maxime to hold the position. However, a few more of Caruana's mistakes turned the tables, so White's position was ruined in a few moves.

In general, 12.h4!? doesn't look like a threatening idea, but definitely deserves further practical tests.

Enjoy! See you next month, Michael

>> Previous Update >>

Please feel free to share any of your thoughts at the Open Sicilians Forum, or subscribers can write directly to