ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Dear chess friends,
Now, when most of us are worried about the current epidemic, chess becomes an especially attractive game as we can both study and play at home. As usual, this update includes many Najdorfs, but we have a few interesting ideas in other Sicilians too.

Download PGN of March ’20 Open Sicilian games

>> Previous Update >>

Sveshnikov 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5 Nb8 9.a4 [B33]

We start with Dragnev, V - Olekysienko, M, where the players entered an important theoretical position after 14.Na3:

At this moment Mikhaylo employed the recent move 14...Nf6, but this hardly offers Black comfortable play. On move 18 Valentin mistakenly decided to liquidate his opponent's light-squared bishop, but Mikhaylo returned the favor with 18...Rxc8?! and soon committed another serious mistake with 22...Rxc2? In general, it was a well-played game by GM Dragnev, and after Svidler - Caruana the ball remains in Black's court.

Taimanov 6.g3 a6 7.Bg2 Nf6 8.0-0 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Bc5 [B47]

The game Vaibhav, S - Aravindh, C saw Black employ the somewhat unusual 13...Ke7, that wasn't seen on our site before. A few next natural moves from both sides led to the following diagram position after 18...Ke8:

At this point GM Vaibhav decided to avoid exchanging the rooks and played 19.Nb6, but it turned out to be inaccurate, and after 19...Rxd1! Black managed to fully solve his problems. Moreover, at the end GM Aravindh even missed some winning chances by playing 27...e4?!

Overall, 13...Ke7 doesn't look like a safe way of solving Black's problems, but it can be tried again at the highest level.

Najdorf/Scheveningen 6.h3 e6 7.g4 h6 8.Bg2 Nc6 [B81]

In the game Navara, D - Duda, J Black quickly deviated from known paths with the novelty 11...g5:

It looks like the real test of this idea would have been seen had David played 12.f5!, while after his somewhat timid 12.Ne2, followed by 13.Bxf4?! Black managed to quickly seize the initiative. The really critical moment came on move 20, when David wrongly left his king in the centre and was quickly crushed.

In general, 11...g5 should be tested more, but it seems quite risky in view of 12. f5!

Najdorf/Scheveningen 6.h3 e6 7.g4 h6 8.Bg2 Be7 [B81]

Another relatively fresh idea was demonstrated in Praggnanandhaa, R -Artemiev, V, where White played 9.b3:

Vlad's natural reaction 9...Nc6 led to an inferior endgame, but the young GM from India soon returned the favor with 18.Ne2? and White had to struggle for a draw till the end of the game.

In my opinion, 9...Bd7! offers Black acceptable play, but we need more practical tests of this move.

In addition, the game Bharath,S - Zhou Jinachao saw another fairly rare move, 9.Qd3:

in reply Black came up with the dubious novelty 9...Bd7. I have to admit that, despite a few inaccuracies, White's play in this game looks very impressive, and the lower-rated player managed to demonstrate the drawbacks of this move.

Sozin Najdorf, Velimirovic Attack with Bc4, 9.0-0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 b5 [B89]

The next game, Adhiban, B - Can, E, saw the players enter a well known theoretical position after 9.0-0-0 that can be reached via the Najdorf, Scheveningen or Classical:

At this point Emre chose 9...Nxd4!? 10.Bxd4 b5, which seems to offer Black adequate counter-play. Indeed, Baskaran's innovation 18.Rd7 wouldn't offer White any advantage had Black reacted correctly. On move 20 instead of 20...Be6, which would have led to an approximately equal endgame, Black played 20...Qc5? and didn't get much for the pawn. In general, GM Adhiban's play was consistent, and his win is well-deserved.

Najdorf 6.h3 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.g4 [B90]

Another theoretical discussion occurred in Shirov, A - Sarana, A, where the players entered a sharp position that was recently tested in So - Carlsen. It was GM Sarana who deviated with the interesting novelty 11...0-0!?:

In reply Alexei went for the aggressive 12.g5 and later sacrificed the exchange with 14.Rc4!?. Black was absolutely fine, but the younger player soon committed a few serious mistakes and was crushed by a direct attack. A masterpiece from GM Shirov!

Najdorf 6.h3 e5 7.Nde2 h5 8.Bg5 Be6 [B90]

The last game of this update, Duda, J - Shankland, S, saw White play the 14.Qa3!? that was previously covered in Salem - Areshchenko:

This time Sam was well prepared, and after 14...Bg7 he quickly solved his problems. Moreover, the inaccurate 18.Ne3? put GM Duda in big danger. The further complex play was full of mutual mistakes, but the really dramatic moment came on move 28, when Sam missed a golden opportunity to decide the game with a direct attack.

See you next month, Michael

>> Previous Update >>

Please feel free to share any of your thoughts at the Open Sicilians Forum, or subscribers can write directly to