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Writing as the Candidates approaches the halfway point I'm afraid I can't supply any Open Sicilians from the event, since there haven't been any and, indeed, only 5 of the 24 games so far have begun with 1 e4! However, there are still plenty of entertaining tussles for us to get our teeth stuck into this month.

Download PGN of March '13 Open Sicilian games

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The Taimanov old main line 6 Be3, 7 Bd3 [B48]

Not everyone after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Be3 a6 is playing the English Attack. Indeed, 7 Bd3 was played in a leading encounter from the Reykjavik Open where 7...Nf6 8 0-0 b5!? (this isn't hugely popular but seems a good choice from what I can see) 9 Qe2 Bb7 10 f4 Nxd4 11 Bxd4 Bc5 12 Bxc5+ Qxc5+ 13 Kh1 was seen:

With two pairs of pieces exchanged Black should be fine, but he should continue actively with Pritchett's 13...b4, whereas he quickly drifted into some trouble after 13...d6 14 e5! in Vachier Lagrave-So.

The Classical Sicilian Richter-Rauzer 9 f4 [B67]

Meeting 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 d6 6 Bg5 with 6...e6 7 Qd2 a6 8 0-0-0 Bd7 9 f4 b5 10 Bxf6 gxf6 is a favourite of both Zdenko Kozul and the rising Russian star Daniil Dubov:

However, after 11 Kb1 their preferences diverge. In Nevednichy - Kozul we'll look at the Croatian GM's favourite 11...Rc8, as well as Dubov's latest outing with 11...Qb6.

The Scheveningen 6 Be2, 7...Nbd7!? [B84]

The main lines of the Classical Scheveningen have long been pretty theoretical, but Black can meet 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 d6 6 Be2 with 6...a6 7 Be3 Nbd7!? if he desires to get off the beaten track:

Kravtsiv - Korobov was only a rapid encounter from the Aeroflot qualifier, but caught my eye since after a string of natural moves White found himself struggling for a good plan and rapidly got into serious difficulties.

The Najdorf 6 Bc4, 7...b5 [B87]

Against 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bc4 Kiril Georgiev still advocates 6...e6 7 Bb3 b5 8 0-0 Be7 9 Qf3 Qb6 in the new edition of The Sharpest Sicilian. After 10 Be3 Qb7 11 Qg3 we reach something of a tabiya:

Here Black's main moves are 11...b4, 11...Nbd7 and 11...0-0, as we'll see, but 11...Bd7? is one to avoid. If you're not sure why do pay particular attention to Delchev - Fercec.

6 h3 [B90]

Shirov continues to uphold 6 h3, but I'm not sure for how much longer, since he's twice got nowhere in one critical line: 6...e5 7 Nde2 h5 8 g3 Be7 9 Bg2 b5! 10 a4 b4 11 Nxd5 Nxd5 12 Qxd5 Ra7 13 Be3 Be6:

This is, of course, very similar to a popular approach for Black against the Fianchetto Variation and here too he should have sufficient counterplay, as Shirov - Wojtaszek more than demonstrates.

Not everyone has yet been won over to the pure Najdorf approach against 6 h3 and 6...e6 7 g4 d5 8 exd5 Nxd5 9 Nde2 was seen in the super-GM event at Zurich. Here 9...Bb4 is Black's main move by a large margin, as we've seen several times before, but there's also 9...h5!?:

Following 10 0-0 Bd6 11 Nxd5 exd5 12 Bg2 0-0 both sides had some ugly weaknesses in Anand - Gelfand and it seems that Black obtains enough compensation should White grab on d5.

English Attack 6 Be3 Ng4 [B90]

The English Attack is another pretty popular choice, with 6 Be3 Ng4 7 Bg5 h6 8 Bh4 g5 9 Bg3 Bg7 10 Be2 h5 11 Bxg4 hxg4 12 Nd5 Nc6 13 Nf5!? one critical line:

This was seen, albeit with two added to the move order, in McShane - Volokitin where Black elected not to give up the exchange, but to try 13...Bxb2 14 Rb1 Ba3!?. The bishop will actually not be so badly placed on c5, especially when compared with its counterpart on g3, and this approach just seems pretty sensible for Black from what I can see.

6 Be3 e5 [B90]

Finally, we take a look at 6...e5 7 Nb3 Be7 which is supposed to deter 8 Qd2 on account of 8...Ng4 and yet this and then 9 g3 0-0 10 0-0-0 a5!? was seen in Caruana - Naiditsch:

Surely White must halt the a-pawn here, but he didn't in the game and was soon in trouble.

That's all for this month. Now will I have any Candidates games to analyse for April's column?

Until next month, Richard

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