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Hi everyone,
This month offered us the spectacular European Individual Championships, so it's not surprising that most of these games come from this event. On top of this there are games with exceptional theoretical value from other tournaments. Enjoy!

Download PGN of June ’16 Open Sicilian games

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The Grivas Sicilian 7.Qe2 Bb4 8.Bd2 0-0 9.a3 Be7 [B32]

Our first game Nitin - Perunovic proves that employing risky side lines without proper preparation cannot be recommended, even against a much lower-rated player. In the rare theoretical position after 12...a6?!:

White came up with the natural novelty 13.g5! and quickly developed a crushing attack. Even though Black's play can easily be improved, the whole setup seems very shaky, so I do not expect to see many followers of 9...Be7 in the future.

Sveshnikov 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.Bd3 Be6 [B33]

First, many thanks to subscriber Joachim for pointing out the strength of 22.Kf1 in the mainline of the 9.Nd5 eBooks, I've updated both accordingly.

The next game Bailet - Rambaldi saw a long and well-forgotten theoretical line, which was covered on our site many years ago. The position after 18.Bb3 is new to our PGN Archive, but it must be known to any Sveshnikov Player:

Instead of 18...a5!, which is the most common and definitely the best move, Francesco went for 18...Ng6?!, as once tried by Vishy Anand. After this Black's position seemed somewhat worse, but still playable, until his mistakes on moves 20 and 21 that could have led to a quick loss. In return Pierre didn't manage to play precisely either, but fortune was on his side.

Regarding the opening, 18...a5! leads to a very complex struggle, but Black should be OK.

Taimanov 7.Qf3 Nf6 8.0-0-0 Ne5 [B48]

In my opinion, the game Edouard - Neiksans has exceptional theoretical value. Here, in the well-known position after 10...Neg4:

White came up with 11.Bd2!, which looks much stronger than the previously played 11.Bg1. I have to admit that Artur's way of defending seems optimal, but still he found himself in a difficult endgame. The critical moment came on move 24, when White incorrectly allowed the knight's exchange. Had Romain played 24.Bd6! instead, then Artur's task would have been very tough.

Anyway, despite the impressive defensive play by Artur, this line looks really bad for Black after 11.Bd2!

Najdorf 6.Nb3 [B90]

Our next game Bartel - Zubov saw another theoretical discussion in the rare 6.Nb3 line of the Najdorf. In the position after 9.g5, which was covered in the previous Update, Alexander went for a solid way of handling the position with 9...Nfd7:

The play was balanced for a long time, but Zubov's mistake on the 18th move led him into a passive and difficult situation. Despite some inaccuracies, Mateusz's energetic play up till move 30 made a good impression, but then he started to err and allowed his opponent to save half a point.

In general, I like Zubov's approach in the opening.

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

Vladimir definitely wasn't at his best in the European Individual Championship, but the game Fedoseev - Esen must leave him with some good memories from the tournament. The players entered into a well-known theoretical position after 12...Nxe4, where most games ended in a draw by repetition:

Here, instead, the spectacular idea 13.Ra4!? was played, but it didn't came as a surprise for the Turkish Grandmaster as he'd already had this position. In reply his previous game saw 13...Bf5, which might not be sufficient to equalize, but this time he played 13...Nc5!?. However, this continuation was properly analyzed by Vladimir, and he was able to pose Black concrete problems. The critical moment came on move 20, when Baris had to play 20...Bb7!, when White would hardly have more than sufficient compensation for the exchange. Instead, the careless 20...Qxd6?! led to a very unpleasant endgame. The further play was full of mutual mistakes, but GM Esen was the last to err.

Well, this line still seems playable for Black, though 13.Nd2!? looks like another dangerous idea - I expect more practical tests soon.

Najdorf 6.Be3 Ng4 ...10.Be2 h5 11.h4 [B90]

Our next game Kobalia - Kulaots also has definite theoretical value. The position after 14.Qd2 was already analyzed on the site before, but 14...Rc8!, as played by Kaido, is new for our PGN Archive:

The critical moment came after 19.Bf1, which was already seen in one earlier game. As the analysis proves, the previously played 19...Bxb3! seems the best here, and offers Black normal play. Instead of this the dubious innovation 19...Qb6?! led Black into an unpleasant situation, where his king was stuck in the centre for a long time. Despite some inaccuracies Mikhail was able to to take advantage of his long-term initiative and win in nice style.

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

In our next game Andriasian - Ragger, Zaven tried to improve over White's play in the spectacular game Khismatullin - Sjugirov, where White was quickly crushed. Indeed, 11.a4:

is much better than 11.0-0-0, as played in the above-mentioned game. However, in my opinion, in the case of 11...Na6!? Black's position would still be more promising. Ragger's way of handling the position wasn't bad either, so the position remained balanced till move 17, when Markus started to go wrong with 17...f5?! Luckily for him, at the end of the game a draw was agreed in a difficult position for Black.

Najdorf 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 ....12. g5 Nh5 [B90]

The last game, Brkic - Cheparinov, saw another theoretical discussion in a fashionable line that was recently successfully employed by Ian Nepomniatchi. In the position after 18.Na5 (the number of moves can be different, it depends on whether the players repeat moves as in this game), Ivan deviated from Ian's play with 18...Rc8!?:

After a few natural moves the players entered a critical position after 20.Bd3. It looks like Black's position would have been perfectly playable had Ivan played 20...Qc7!, but instead the over-optimistic 20...f6?, followed by 22...Nf4? allowed Ante to get a full point quite fast.

Well, we definitely need to see more games in this complex line. At the moment, both 18...Qc7 and 18...Rc8 seem playable for the second player.

Well, I hope you've enjoyed this Update. As always, any questions or requests are welcome! See you next month! Michael

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