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Coverage this month was inspired by two recent works, The Sicilian Taimanov: Move by Move and The Sicilian Scheveningen: Move by Move. I also couldn't resist including some coverage of my favourite Najdorf and have answered a few subscribers' queries along the way.

Download PGN of June '12 Open Sicilian games

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The Taimanov 6 f4 [B47]

Thanks to Naiditsch's efforts, 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 f4 has been gaining adherents of late. We round up a number of recent developments in the notes to Bartel - Macieja where 6...a6 7 Be3 b5 8 Nb3 Nf6 9 Bd3 d6 10 0-0 Be7 11 Qf3 Bb7 reached quite a normal-looking position:

Here White tried 12 a4, which is logical enough, and after 12...bxa4?! 13 Rxa4 he enjoyed a very pleasant edge, but, of course, 12...b4 should have been preferred.

The English Attack [B48]

The English Attack approach with 6 Be3 a6 7 Qd2 Nf6 8 0-0-0 remains rather topical. Currently the critical test of the Brazilian variation with 8...Be7 9 f3 0-0 10 g4 b5 11 g5 Nh5 is 12 Kb1!:

This gives Black a number of options, including a fascinating new idea from subscriber Everett Kalafatis, but he needs to know his stuff and a leading Taimanov advocate quickly came unstuck in Quesada Perez-Laznicka.

8...Be7 has caught up 8...Bb4 in the popularity stakes, but unsurprisingly that retains its adherents, who all have their pet lines after 9 f3. We cover several options in Karjakin - Tregubov, an encounter which suggests that 9...Na5 10 Kb1 may not be as good for White as theory has thought. After 10...Bxc3 Karjakin made the unusual decision to take the queens off, but 11 Qxc3 Qxc3 12 bxc3 d5! 13 e5 Nd7 14 f4 b5 just led to a roughly balanced, heavy manoeuvring battle in a French-like position.

The Scheveningen, English Attack - Topalov's 11...Ne5 [B80]

Continuing the English Attack theme we begin coverage here with 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6 6 Be3 a6 7 f3 b5 8 Qd2 Nbd7 9 g4 h6 10 0-0-0 b4 11 Na4 Ne5, Topalov's move and D'Costa's recommendation in his Move by Move repertoire book:

In Ghaem Maghami-Le Quang Liem White bravely snatched the pawn and did somewhat better than Kramnik infamously managed against Topalov, but I still find it hard to believe that Black doesn't have promising compensation and the Vietnamese no.1 won a fine game.

Keres Attack 6...h6 [B81]

More and more grandmasters are happy to allow the Keres Attack with 6 g4 and after 6...h6 7 Bg2 Nc6 8 h3 Bd7 9 Be3 a6 play transposes to Baron - Jakovenko:

This sideline shouldn't cause Black any problems unless White quickly manages to detonate the centre after f2-f4, so it shouldn't come as a surprise to learn that 10 0-0 g5! was a strong if thematic novelty from the 2700+ Russian Grandmaster en route to the European title.

6 Be2 Mainline [B85]

In Efimenko - Rublevsky two experts on the Classical Scheveningen clashed and 6 Be2 Be7 7 Be3 a6 8 0-0 0-0 9 f4 Qc7 10 a4 Nc6 11 Kh1 Re8 12 Qd2 Bd7 13 Nb3 occurred:

Normally play transposes into the big main line after 13...b6 14 Bf3 Rab8 15 g4 Bc8, etc, but 13...Na5!? 14 Nxa5 Qxa5 is a very interesting idea to free Black's position. After 15 Bd3 Kh8!? White could find nothing better than queenside expansion with 16 b4!?, but this permitted Black quite easy counterplay. Thus if White is after the main line I suspect he should really begin with 12 Bf3.

The Najdorf 6 h3 10...Nc6!? [B90]

After 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 going 6 h3 is starting to fall out of fashion, partly because 6...e6 7 g4 d5 8 exd5 Nxd5 9 Nde2 Bb4 10 Bg2 is neutralised by 10...0-0 à la Stephen Gordon. Here there's also Ftacnik's 10...Nc6, which is holding up well too, as we'll see in 6 h3 Najdorf - Subscriber Query.

6 Bg5 Nbd7 7 Qe2!? [B94]

Finally, I couldn't resist covering the still topical line 6 Bg5 Nbd7!?. Here 7 Bc4 is beginning to fade in the popularity stakes, although I've still explored a sensible reader suggestion after it. Instead 7 Qe2!? is the hip move at 2600+ level:

Black has a few options here, with 7...h6!? 8 Bh4 e6 9 0-0-0 b5 10 f4 Qc7 11 f5 quickly leading to a rather unexplored type of Gelfand System in Potkin - Laznicka.

No doubt there will be more developments in the 6 Bg5 Nbd7 Najdorf to consider next month! Until then,


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Please feel free to share any of your thoughts with me, whatever they are, suggestions, criticisms (just the polite ones, please), etc. Drop me a line at the Open Sicilians Forum, or subscribers can write directly to