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Quite a number of lines receive some coverage this month, ranging from the relatively offbeat Lowenthal to a razor-sharp line of the Poisoned Pawn. I just hope that this selection provides a little consolation for the absence of Linares, which would normally be in full swing at this time.
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Download PGN of March '11 Open Sicilian games

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The Lowenthal [B32]

Sam Collins recently took up my old favourite, 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 e5 5 Nb5 a6 6 Nd6+ Bxd6 7 Qxd6 Qf6:

Here I believe that 8 Qc7 is the only approach which challenges the viability of the whole system, but in Yankovsky - Collins White prefers 8 Qd1. The players follow the main line for some time before Black loses his way while trying to chase down White's trapped knight on c7.

The Kalashnikov [B32]

Despite a similar start, 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 e5 5 Nb5 d6 reaches totally different positions to the Lowenthal, but here too Black is in good health and another 2600+ Grandmaster was recently drawn to the black cause. Souleidis - Naiditsch features the fairly critical line 6 N1c3 a6 7 Na3 Be7 (Radjabov's recent preference) 8 Nc4 b5 9 Ne3 Nf6 10 g3:

I feel that the best response is 10...b4 11 Ncd5 Nxe4 when Black can often sacrifice the exchange for decent enough compensation. Naiditsch, however, prefers 10...h5, winning a crushing game after 11 h4, but Anand's 11 Bg2 must be more critical and I'm far from sure that Black can equalise against it.

The Taimanov [B48]

Back in January we noted that 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Be3 a6 7 Qd2 Nf6 8 0-0-0 Be7 9 f3 0-0 10 g4 b5 11 g5 Nh5! was becoming topical:

Since then it's received some more 2600+ outings, including in Salgado Lopez-Movsesian, where play follows a sharp line and Black draws without difficulty.

The Classical [B56-9]

Taking a break from the Rauzer, and to compliment the new eBook, I've looked at a few sidelines this month; that is if one can refer to such an important system as the Boleslavsky as a sideline. Of course, it has a great history, but nowadays 6 Be2 is quite an innocuous choice from White.

First, though, we examine the English Attack-like 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 d6 6 Be3 in Novik - Agopov, noting that 6...Ng4! is just an attractive option for Black.

After 6 Be2 a number of players are happy to take play into Classical Dragon waters with 6...g6, but it's also possible to confuse White with 6...Nxd4!? 7 Qxd4 g6:

White might now be tempted to castle long and play in Yugoslav Attack style, but this doesn't seem especially problematic for Black, as we'll see in Abkarian - Pilavov. Overall, I'm a little surprised that the exchange of knights isn't employed more often, but then again both 6...g6 and 6...e5 have excellent reputations.

Indeed, the Boleslavsky comes under the microscope in Negi - Kempinski, where White tries 6...e5 7 Nb3 Be7 8 0-0 0-0 9 f4, which is countered by the thematic 9...a5 10 a4 Nb4:

Black is fine here, but to be fair to Negi he was tricked into the Boleslavsky by the move order 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6!?.

The Najdorf: The English Attack [B90]

Anand's second, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, has faced 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e5 7 Nb3 Be7 8 f3 Be6 9 Qd2 0-0 10 0-0-0 twice of late, which gives us the opportunity to check out some important lines:

In one game the leading Polish Grandmaster surprisingly followed up 10...Nbd7 11 g4 b5 12 g5 not with 12...b4 13 Ne2 Ne8, but rather the older 12...Nh5, going on to obtain quite a comfortable draw. 10...a5 had been preferred in the earlier Jaracz - Wojtaszek. Black appears to be OK here after 11 a4 Nc6 12 g4 Nb4 13 Kb1 Rc8, although the game has a rather strange end.

The Najdorf: Delayed Poisoned Pawn [B96]

Of late meeting 6 Bg5 e6 7 f4 with 7...h6 has received some attention. Following 8 Bh4 Qb6!? (8...Be7 is, of course, the alternative) 9 Qd2 Qxb2 10 Rb1 Qa3 a Poisoned Pawn occurs where it's not entirely clear who benefits from the insertion of ...h6 and Bh4:

Vallejo Pons chose 11 f5 against Morozevich, but in our main game, Bromberger - Areshchenko, White prefers to take play into a line of the Poisoned Pawn proper with 11 e5 and a typically complex struggle quickly flares up after 11...dxe5 12 fxe5 g5!?.

I wonder if we'll be returning to the Taimanov and the Poisoned Pawn next month?

Until then, Richard

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