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This update is a little late I'm afraid, but the delay means that we can consider some developments from both the Candidates and the Capablanca Memorial. Moreover, thanks to Mark Uniacke, I've been able to make use of the latest version of Hiarcs and am also grateful to Kevin Goh Wei Ming for the notes to an instructive game of his.

Download PGN of May '11 Open Sicilian games

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The Kan 5.c4 [B41]

The 2010 World Junior Champion, Dmitry Andreikin, is rapidly becoming the man to keep an eye on after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6. Here Dominguez has favoured 5 c4 Nf6 6 Nc3 Bb4 7 Bd2!? of late:

The two opposing protagonists met in Dominguez - Andreikin where play quickly transposed into a line of the Hedgehog. Ivanchuk's subsequent 7...0-0!? might be more critical from a theoretical perspective, but the game itself is highly instructive for all who ever find themselves on either side of the Hedgehog.

The Kan 5.Bd3 [B42]

A fairly topical line is 5 Bd3 Bc5 6 Nb3 Be7 7 Be3. After 7...Nf6 8 N1d2 Nc6 9 f4 d5 10 a3 (Peter Heine Nielsen's idea) my suggestion of 10...e5!? has now received a test, as we'll see, but in Bruzon - Andreikin we mainly focus on 7...Nc6 8 N1d2 d5!?:

After 9 exd5 exd5 10 0-0 Nf6 the position resembles the IQP lines of the French Tarrasch, which won't suit everyone, but Black is no more than a touch worse from what I can see. Bruzon soon found himself struggling for a plan and once he hesitated was destroyed by some bold and very imaginative play from Andreikin.

Black can also meet 5 Bd3 with Romanishin's 5...Nf6 6 0-0 e5!?, as no lesser theoreticians than Inarkiev and Jobava have done of late. We take a look in Vallejo - Kunte where White employs Peter Wells' critical idea, 7 Bg5!?:

White's idea is underpinned by the point 7...exd4? 8 e5 Qa5+ 9 Bd2, but in any case I'm not totally convinced that Black can equalise. Kunte tries one of Romanishin's suggestions, 7...h6 8 Bxf6 Qxf6 9 Nf5 d5, but had to endure some rather nervy moments before managing to steer the game towards the safe haven of a draw.

The Taimanov [B48]

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Be3 a6 gives White a choice. 7 Bd3 was once the main line, but Black should be OK here at least so long as he is well-prepared, as Kevin shows in his notes to Goh Wei Ming-Mihok. Caruana prefers the arguably more-critical 7 Qd2 Nf6 8 0-0-0 in Caruana - Kogan, a game which shows just how much remains to be uncovered after 8...Be7. Indeed, Kogan's logical 9 f3 b5 10 g4 b4!? is already a novelty!

The youngster prevails in a complex fight, but I most certainly wouldn't write off Kogan's idea just yet.

The Kupreichik [B56]

Slightly to my surprise I could find no coverage of 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Bd7!? on ChessPub:

It was clearly time to rectify that and the recent game Shirov - Heberla definitely helped in such regard. Black wants to see White's next move or two before deciding whether to develop along Classical, Najdorf or even Dragon lines, and this is actually quite a tricky sideline. I suspect that 6 Bg5 e6 7 Ndb5!? is critical, since in the game 6 f3 e5 7 Nb3 Be7 8 Be3 0-0 9 g4 a5! just gave Black an improved version of a Najdorf line (6 Be3 e5 7 Nb3 Be7 8 f3 0-0 9 Qd2 Be6 10 0-0-0 a5!?) from what I can see.

The Scheveningen [B84]

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6 6 Be2 Nc6 7 Be3 a6 is, of course, a position which can arise from a number of move orders. White usually goes short here, but 8 f4 by no means unknown. Black has often met this with 8...Be7, but 8...Bd7 is a very interesting idea to exploit White's move order:

One of Black's main ideas is revealed in 9 Qd2 b5, after which both players immediately begin to fight for the initiative in the great scrap Azarov - Navara.

The Najdorf: 6.Be3 e5 7.Nf3 [B90]

It was great to see Gelfand remaining true to the Najdorf throughout the recent Candidates event. Not only did the opening give him a win against Mamedyarov, but it also helped to keep Kamsky at bay. The still-topical positional line 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e5 7 Nf3 was a key battleground in Kazan. After 7...Be7 8 Bc4 0-0 9 0-0 Gelfand initially opted for 9...Nc6 when no doubt surprised by Mamedyarov's choice of 1 e4, but was a little fortunate to draw. By the semi-final stage he had ascertained that 9...Be6 10 Bb3 Nc6 11 Qe2 Na5 was the way to go:

Black is extremely solid here and Kamsky clearly hadn't prepared a magic plan for Black was able to draw without difficulty after 12 Rfd1 Qc7 in Kamsky - Gelfand (and 12...Nxb3 13 axb3 Qc7 had also done OK in an earlier game in the same match).

There were certainly some great tussles this month which I just hoped you enjoyed as much as I did. More on the Najdorf next month!

Until then, Richard

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