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Hello everyone,
I am really happy that 'offline' tournaments are slowly coming back! The Fide World Cup has just started, and I am sure that in the next Update we will have many exciting battles from there. In the meantime, there is just the one game from this event, Henriquez Villagra - Korobov, and the remaining games were played in assorted chess events. The Najdorf prevails this time, but this Update will mostly attract fans of various side lines.

Download PGN of July ’21 Open Sicilian games

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Sveshnikov 6.Nde2 [B33]

The rare theoretical position after 7...Ba5 was previously analyzed in the exciting encounter Andreikin, D - Zhigalko, S.

In Bjerre, J - Ter Sahakyan, S White came up with a fresh idea, 8.b4!?, followed by 9.Qd6! and managed to pose his higher-rated opponent some practical problems. It was an interesting game, where both players missed their winning chances at some point.

Regarding the theoretical part, after 9.Qd6! Black has a few ways to improve over Ter Sahakyan's play, but they are not trivial.

Kan 5.Bd3 Bc5 6.Nb3 Be7 7.Qg4 g6 [B42]

The next game, Caruana, F - Svidler, P, saw a somewhat forgotten line of the Kan with 7.Qg4 g6. In the position after 10.N1d2:

Peter deviated from the previously covered Yu - Smirin in favor of 10...Ne5! and managed to prove that Black can afford to leave his king in the centre for a while. The approximate balance was kept till move 36, when Peter committed a tactical blunder and quickly lost.

Taimanov 6.Be3 a6 7.g4 [B48]

In the next game, Henriquez Villagra, V - Korobov, A, Anton faced the ultra-aggressive and fashionable setup with 7.g4, and it looks like he wasn't well prepared for it, as he employed the dubious 9...Bb4?!:

Luckily for Anton, his opponent soon retreated the bishop, incorrectly, and White's attack slowed down. Despite a few further mistakes, White's position was acceptable, and only the impulsive 31.a4? finally allowed Black to score a victory.

In general, the aggressive 7.g4 looks promising for White at the moment.

Najdorf 6.b3 [B90]

There are so many minor options at the starting point of the Najdorf! This time we have 2 games where White scored 2 wins with the unusual 6.b3:

First, in Carlsen, M - Svidler, P, Black reacted with the most natural 6...e5 7.Nde2 Be6, and obtained a decent position. A few moves later Peter wrongly pushed his h-pawn and came under strong pressure. The further play was full of mutual mistake, where Magnus's endgame technique prevailed, as usual.

Being impressed by such a defeat, Peter decided to give it a try himself in Svidler, P - Hou Yifan, and his choice was fully justified: Black prematurely played 9...b5? and was eventually crushed by a direct attack.

In general, both 6...e5 and 6...e6 seem perfectly playable, but Peter's way of handling the position is safer.

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

A relatively unexplored opening idea was demonstrated by Alexander in Grischuk, A - Duda, J. In the tabia after 8...h5 White played 9.Be2 Nbd7 10.f4!?,which was only tested in a couple of corr. games:

The surprise effect worked, and GM Duda soon went astray with 11...Bxg4?! after which Black faces serious problems with his light-squared bishop. White was much better for most of time, but starting with 22.b3? Alexander started to err, and eventually it was Black who missed great winning chances.

In my opinion, after 10.f4!? the safer way for Black is 10...Qc7.

Najdorf 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 Be7... 12.g5 b4 [B90]

In the game Shankland, S - Duda, J the players entered a sharp and deeply explored line with 16.dxe6!?:

It looks like GM Duda either forgot or missed something as he quickly erred with 18...Nc7?! and 19...d5?! After this Black's position was nearly lost, and Sam managed to convincingly convert his advantage into a full point.

Undoubtedly, 18...Rxa2 should have been preferred.

Najdorf 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qc7 8.Bxf6 [B96]

We end with Van Foreest, J - Kasparov, G. This game has exceptional value for the theory of the 7...Qc7 line - the way Jorden handled the position with 10.a3! followed by 12.f5 looks extremely annoying for Black:

In fact, Garry faced this approach in all 3 games in this tournament, and in all of them he was convincingly defeated.

Undoubtedly, these 3 losses for the great Garry make 7...Qc7 look very problematic for Black.

See you next month, Michael

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