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Games from the Russian Team Championship dominate once again this month, although we also feature encounters from the recently completed events in St Petersburg and Zug, including Mickey Adams getting the upper hand against 6 h3 Najdorf expert Maxime Vachier Lagrave.

Download PGN of May '13 Open Sicilian games

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The Classical - Richter-Rauzer 6...Qb6 [B60]

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 d6 6 Bg5 Qb6!? is quite a risky choice, but is employed by some strong players as a surprise weapon, including the rising Chinese and Russian stars Yu Yangyi and Daniil Dubov:

Quite a critical test is 7 Be3, as we've noted before, but White usually opts for 7 Nb3. After 7...e6 8 Bd3 Be7 9 0-0 0-0, surprisingly 10 Qd2 was a novelty in Hou Yifan-Yu Yangyi. It's not the most earth-shattering of new moves, but the former Women's World Champion does go on to win an instructive encounter.

The Scheveningen - English Attack 6 Be3 [B80]

By no means everyone opts for the Keres Attack after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 d6 these days, with 6 Be3 a very important alternative. Perhaps the most trendy response is 6...a6 7 f3 b5 8 Qd2 Nbd7 9 g4 h6 10 0-0-0 b4 11 Nce2 Qc7 12 h4 d5:

White has quite a few options at this point, as we'll see, but in Dominguez Perez-Korobov he opts to force the pace with 13 Bf4 and then tests 18 Rh8!?, a move I've wondered about before. It's not without its dangers, but the talented Ukrainian Grandmaster is able to maintain the balance with some accurate defence.

The Keres Attack 6...h6 [B81]

Next we move on to the Keres proper, and in particular the line 6 g4 h6 7 h4 Nc6 8 Rg1 d5 9 Bb5 Bd7 10 exd5 Nxd5 11 Nxd5 exd5 12 Be3 Be7, although play actually begins with a Taimanov move order in Harikrishna - Andreikin.

In this tabiya White has tried a few different approaches, with Karpov's 13 Qd2 likely the best, whereas 13 Qe2 doesn't lead to very much in the game.

6 Be2 [B84]

Should White prefer a Classical approach with 6 Be2 a6 7 0-0 some Scheveningen players are happy with 7...Be7, but others like 7...Qc7, which may enable Black to pursue independent paths. However, after 8 f4 Be7 9 Qe1 it's time for the second player to be careful:

With 9...Nc6 10 Be3 0-0 Black takes play into one of the main lines, and one with a very solid reputation for him, whereas I can't really recommend 9...b5?! which didn't turn out at all well in Geller - Volokitin.

The Najdorf - English Attack 6 Be3 Ng4 [B90]

While one should never underestimate the 6 Bg5 lines, after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 the two topical approaches at the moment are 6 Be3 and that little move which just won't go away, namely 6 h3!?.

We begin with the English Attack and after 6 Be3 Ng4 7 Bg5 h6 8 Bh4 g5 9 Bg3 Bg7 take a look at both Ponomariov's use of 10 Qd2 Nc6 11 Nb3 and the arguably more critical 10 h3 Ne5 11 f3 Nbc6 12 Bf2:

Black responds with 12...Be6 13 Qd2 Qa5 in Sutovsky - Vachier Lagrave, but I'm not entirely convinced by the French Grandmaster's early play, despite his resounding victory.

6 Be3 e5 [B90]

Following 6 Be3 e5 7 Nb3 Be6 one pretty fashionable line is 8 h3. That has now received a fair amount of testing and it seems that Black should be okay after 8...Be7 9 Qf3 0-0 10 0-0-0 b5 11 g4 b4 12 Nd5 Nxd5 13 exd5 Bc8:

White introduces 14 Qe4 in Volokitin - Wojtaszek, but never manages to disturb the rough equilibrium.

The main line remains, of course, 8 f3 when 8...Be7 9 Qd2 0-0 10 0-0-0 a5 11 a4 Na6 may have come as a surprise to White in Caruana - Topalov:

The Italian's 12 Bb5 was new, but Topalov soon took over, going on to record an important victory en route to his fine triumph in the third stage of the Grand Prix.

6 h3 e6 [B90]

Finally, we discover that Mickey Adams is the latest convert to 6 h3 and, moreover, he sprung the move on Maxime Vachier Lagrave, a Grandmaster who along with Shirov might be considered the main expert on the line. We'll partly consider developments after 6...e5, but Adams - Vachier Lagrave continued down the main line of 6...e6 7 g4 d5 8 exd5 Nxd5 9 Nde2 Bb4 10 Bg2 0-0 11 0-0:

Vachier Lagrave himself had earlier opted for 11...Nxc3 12 Nxc3 Qc7, but this time he preferred the more unbalanced 11...Bxc3 12 Nxc3 Nxc3 13 bxc3 and then didn't follow in Stephen Gordon's footsteps with 13...Qa5, but preferred 13...Qc7. Here we've previously focussed on 14 Qd4, but Adams introduced 14 Rb1!? and had soon obtained a clear advantage.

That's plenty to ponder for this month. See you in June!


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