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Dear Subscribers,
This month offers us a lot of sharp Sicilian battles with some theoretical novelties and sharp sacrifices. I hope you enjoy it!

Download PGN of June '14 Open Sicilian games

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The Kan with 5.Nc3 b5 6.Bd3 d6 [B43]

We start with a typical opening disaster in Popovic,Du - Soltanici,R. I always had the feeling that the chosen system is extremely dangerous for Black, since White's development advantage is significant. Indeed, after 9.Na2 everything looks like an easy advantage for White. However, it's still quite surprising that White is almost winning after such a natural move as 11...Nbd7?!:

In my opinion this is a bad sign for the whole system. Anyway, Dusan's energetic and thematic play in this game is very impressive.

The English Attack v Taimanov with 8...Bb4 [B48]

In our next game Berg,E - Bellon Lopez,Ju Black deviated from known paths with the dubious 10...0-0?!:

Emanuel's reaction wasn't the strongest, and after 15...Qxc3 the position was still theoretical and double-edged. After the further 16.Rd4?! Black could even grab the advantage, but finally Emanuel Berg was able to develop a decisive attack.

The English Attack v Taimanov with 8...Be7 [B48]

The game Caruana, F - Svidler, P is an important theoretical battle in a very popular line. Peter's novelty 11...b4!? looks like a good way to solve Black's problems, but the real test for it is connected with the diagram position after 13.Rg1:

The correct 13...Bb7 might be an important improvement which leads to a complex fight. At the same time, the text move 13...d5 looks quite logical, but it was brilliantly refuted by an elegant piece sacrifice on move 18. Svidler's defensive task was tough, and Fabiano Caruana achieved a nice victory.

The English Attack v Taimanov with 8.f4 [B48]

The game Molner, M - Robson, R saw a fresh way to handle the 8.f4 line with the black pieces. After 8...Be7!? the game might transpose to a known theoretical position following 9.0-0-0, but instead 9.e5 is already a novelty. In the diagram position after 10.Bg1 Black's knight on g4 looks awkward, but 10...b5! gives Black sufficient counterplay.

Instead, GM Ray Robson went for the provocative 10...f6?! and would have faced unpleasant problems in case of 11.Be2! However, his idea was fully justified after White's 11.exf6?! and he managed to seize the initiative and win in a nice style. In general the ball remains in White's court, but 9.Be2!? might be an important improvement.

Scheveningen with an early 6...Nbd7 and ...b5 [B84]

The game Pogonina, N - Mozharov, M is quite important from a theoretical point of view. Natalya Pogonina went for the rare prophylactic move 10.Kh1!? in one of the most attractive side lines of the Scheveningen.

In the diagram position, after White's 12th move, Black should have preferred 12...dxe5 13.Nc6 Qc7. According to my analysis this leads to an equal ending. However, Mozharov decided to keep more pressure on the board by means of 12...bxc3?! 13.exf6 Nxf6, and as a result of this novelty, Black's king was stuck in the centre, and Natalya Pogonina was able to develop a strong attack and punish her opponent for such a risky strategy.

Najdorf with 6.h3 e5 7.Nb3 [B90]

In Navara, D - Swiercz, D White tried an interesting idea of developing his k-side activity before completing development. After 10.h4 there was a fresh and interesting position on the board:

The real test of David's original idea seems to be 10...a5!?. Instead, after the natural-looking 10...0-0 Navara could have guaranteed his edge. However, he went for 11.Bh3 (instead of the correct 11.Be3), and so the position became double-edged. In the further play both players had their chances, but finally GM David Navara was happy with a draw.

The Najdorf with 6.Be3 e5 7.Nf3 Qc7 [B90]

In the rapid game Ponkratov, P - Smirnov, A White introduced the attractive novelty 12.g4!?:

The character of play is completely different from the usual type of positions in this quiet system. Both players were on top form till move 19, when after 19....Nc3? 20.Qb3 Nxe2 21.Kxe2 Black found himself in a difficult position. Unfortunately for Pavel Ponkratov, he failed to find the most precise moves and couldn't prevent Black's counterplay. Moreover, the final position was hopeless for White, so Smirnov may also be disappointed with the final result.

Najdorf with 6.f4 Qc7 [B93]

The game Ivanchuk,V - Dominguez Perez,L saw a rare and very interesting line in the Najdorf. The players entered into a double-edged position after 10.0-0 0-0-0. The critical moment for a theoretical part of the game comes on move 14:

In my opinion, 14.c3 (which was played in the preceding game), might be quite promising for White. Instead, Vasily comes up with a novelty, 14.Bd2, but it looks like after 14...e4! Black could have seize the initiative. All the same, Ivanchuk's idea has fully justified after 14...Nc6? The next critical moment came on move 19 - the correct 19.Bc3! would be very unpleasant for Lenier, but after 19.Bxd5? Bxg3! his problems were solved.


See you next month, Michael Roiz

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