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Another month, but what really changes? In Linares the Najdorf and Sveshnikov still ruled the roost! Even the (ex?) World Number One was seen playing the Sveshnikov with Black (see below).

I received loads and loads of emails - thanks for all your compliments, and I'm glad you like the way I have been handling this section.

Luther's chapter on the Najdorf has certainly sparked enormous interest in 6 Bg5 and I have managed to answer many of your question below in a big Najdorf section.

Download PGN of March '05 Open Sicilian games

Sveshnikov/Kalashnikov Variation [B32-B33]

The so-called Positional line was much in evidence this last month:

White avoids the sharper variations and tries to keep a small plus. In Anand - Kasparov the retired ex-World Champion was in big trouble against Anand's neat preparation, but managed to save a draw.

This line could well prove to be a big problem for Black unless one of my suggestions on move twenty works out!

In Topalov - Leko we have a look at an amazing line where White starts solidly enough:

but then plays b3 and Ra2, leaves his king in the centre, opens the h-file, and then tries to double rooks against the h7-pawn!

Once again Black was completely busted, but this time was really fortuitous to save the half point. Black players really need to be aware of the dangers in this line.

Classical Sozin/Two Knights [B56 to B59]

If White tries to play an English Attack against the Classical, Black can avoid ...a6 and instead play the super-aggressive (and weakening!) 9...a5!?:

White normally continues with 10 Bb5 when Black can play a later ...Na7-c8. However, Black tried an even more radical solution in Fedorov - Ivanchuk, he put his knight on b4 and won a crushing game.

White's play can be improved, of course!

Najdorf [B90 to B99]

After his stunning success against Kramnik, Topalov tried his 11...Ne5!? move again:

However, this time, in Anand - Topalov White was well prepared, and eventually won. Nevertheless, this move is still very viable for Black in my opinion.

This setback didn't stop Topalov from coming equal first with Kasparov at Linares after beating him in the last round!

Next, I received a lot of emails asking about Black's various replies to 6 Bg5 (apart from 7...Nc6 which I have covered in some detail this last two months) which is only to be expected now that Thomas Luther has recommended this in Experts vs the Sicilian.

There will no doubt be thousands of players who will buy this book so it is as well to be prepared against it. Quality Chess have very kindly sent me a review copy, and although I have only had time to look at the Najdorf section so far I think it is very good.

Grant Sidnam asked: "What do you think of the 6. Bg5 e6 7 f4 Nbd7 line? Interestingly none of the books on the Najdorf including your own (apart from Nunn) cover this line, possibly because of some drawing lines."

I used to like playing it, but gave it up when a weaker opponent played one of the aforementioned drawing lines against me! Anyway, there were a lot of interesting games in this line recently, which has given me the opportunity to look at one of the sharpest lines starting 8 Qf3 in Berg - Aagaard:

Another line which may be more dangerous for Black is 8 Qe2!?, intending to play g4, with a later Bg2:

In the mainline Black has to face a dangerous piece sac, and if he avoids this he seems to be in some trouble too, see Spraggett - Kuczynski and the note to move nine.

Have you ever wondered why Polugaevsky's 7...b5 isn't played much anymore?

Well, so did I, so I looked at Luther's recommendation, and by good luck this was played in the game Vasquez - Lenoir in January. White won very quickly, but should Black really have resigned at the end?

Mike Ridge also asked about the 7...Qc7 line, and the piece sacrificed rejected by Luther. Well, I couldn't find any recent games that seemed to the point here, sorry, but I hope to analyse one in a future update, Mike.

Jon Nyquist wrote:

"This is just a Blitz game (ICC,unrated), but I think it's interesting because, as White, I followed Luther's suggestion in Experts Against the Sicilian. All he says is says is "Better is 14. Rf3 to protect c3 and prepare some action on the kingside." White's record with this line isn't too good in Megabase. I was able to sac (hack!?) my way to a draw, but had a nagging feeling that Black has better chances of finding an improvement than White. What do you think?"

So, I had a look at John's game in the notes to Kasimdzhanov - Sadvakasov and, indeed, this line looks very reasonable for Black.

Many thanks to everyone for their questions!

One last thing, Emil Sutovsky wrote to me about his brilliant game against Gormally (see last month) and pointed-out a beautiful line starting 33 Qd8?:

Now Black wins by 33...fxg2+ 34 Kg1 Qe8!!:

35 Rd1 (35 Qxe8 Bd4 is mate!) 35...Nf4 and wins! Wonderful!

Till next month, Tony Kosten


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