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There has been a spate of top-level Open Sicilians of late. Perhaps no surprise when we consider that the European Individual Championship was followed by the super-GM event in Norway, which in turn was proceeded by the World Rapid and Blitz, and then the Tal Memorial. In any case, it's time to get down to business.

Download PGN of June '13 Open Sicilian games

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The Grivas Sicilian 4...Qb6 [B32]

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Qb6!? is not such an uncommon visitor to the tournament hall these days, partly thanks to all the analysis and promotional work undertaken by the Greek Grandmaster, Efstratios Grivas. Quite a critical test is 5 Nb3 Nf6 6 Nc3 e6 7 Qe2:

White threatens to push his e-pawn and Black must decide between 7...d6 and a Scheveningen approach, and 7...Bb4 8 Bd2 0-0. Here 9 a3 Be7 can lead to a French-like structure, such as after 10 f4 d5 11 e5 Nd7, but that didn't turn out so well for White in Solak - Korobov.

The Kalashnikov 6 N1c3 [B32]

After 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 e5 5 Nb5 d6 all the top grandmasters appear to be opting for 6 N1c3 a6 7 Na3 these days:

Radjabov chose 7...Be7 against Morozevich in Zug, but switched to 7...b5 8 Nd5 Nf6 in Norway. White rejected the transposition to the Sveshnikov in Nakamura - Radjabov and 9 c4 b4 10 Nxf6+ Qxf6 11 Nc2 Be7 12 g3 h5!? never looked totally convincing for Black.

A fully independent eighth move is 8...Nge7 and I'm not too sure why Radjabov keeps rejecting it. After 9 c4 Nd4 10 cxb5 Nxd5 11 exd5 Bd7 12 Be3 axb5 13 Bxd4 exd4 14 Bd3 Qa5+ we reach quite an important position:

15 Kf1! still looks quite critical to me, whereas Black had no problems equalising after 15 Qd2 in Solak - Pap.

The Sveshnikov with ...gxf6 10...f5 11 c4 [B33]

Boris Gelfand is still quite happy to keep wheeling out his World Championship preparation and 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 Ndb5 d6 7 Bg5 a6 8 Na3 b5 has served him very well so far. Nakamura's latest try was 9 Bxf6 gxf6 10 Nd5 f5 11 c4, which is still quite rare:

As we've seen before, the check on a5 is no longer considered the complete antidote, but 11...b4 12 Nc2 fxe4 turned out well enough for Black in that pivotal game from Moscow, namely Nakamura - Gelfand.

Positional Line 9 Nd5, 11 c3 [B33]

Once again we also have to give some coverage to 9 Nd5 Be7 10 Bxf6 Bxf6 and then 11 c4, but I'm grateful to Liviu Dieter Nisipeanu for showing that it's still possible to outplay Black in the older lines after 11 c3. After 11...Bg5 12 Nc2 Ne7 13 h4 Bh6 14 a4 bxa4 15 Ncb4 0-0 the players reached something of a crossroads in Nisipeanu - Szczepkowska:

As we analysed back in 2008 Black can equalise against 16 Qxa4, but 16 Rxa4!? posed the Polish WGM a few questions.

The Kan 5 Bd3 Nf6 [B42]

The approach with an early ...Bc5 has been topical in recent years after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6 5 Bd3, but the older lines are still serving Black well enough, especially 5...Nf6 6 0-0 Qc7 7 Qe2 d6 8 c4 g6:

The main line runs 9 Nc3 Bg7 10 Nf3, but even after 9 b3 it's not so easy for White to keep the knight on d4, as we'll see in Solomunovic - Solak.

5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Qf3 [B43]

When Ian Nepomniachtchi was new on the scene, he won a couple of nice games with 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Qf3!? and he's still making good use of this sideline:

Following 6...Nc6 7 Nxc6 all of Black's recaptures have drawbacks, with 7...bxc6 not working out well in an important game from the recently completed 25th World Correspondence Championship. Instead 7...dxc6 was tried in Nepomniachtchi - Smirin, but perhaps Black never quite equalised after the new try 8 Bc4!?.

The Velimirovic Attack [B89]

The Velimirovic Attack, 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 d6 6 Bc4 e6 7 Be3 followed by 8 Qe2, has quite a substantial body of theory, but has never received that much attention on ChessPub, partly because it is rarely seen at grandmaster level these days. However, play remains razor sharp in the main lines, so many prudent black players hold back on kingside development with 7...a6 8 Qe2 Qc7:

After 9 0-0-0 Black usually puts the question to the white bishop with 9...Na5, but 9...Bd7!? 10 Bb3 b5 didn't turn out at all badly in Hector - Rapport.

My shortlist of games for this column is groaning under the weight of 'B90', so I dare say I'll be back pretty soon with plenty of Najdorfs, as well as news for Scheveningen and Taimanov fans.

Until then, Richard

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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