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Hello everyone,
Once again, there were so many exciting events this month that only selecting 8 games was not an easy task. This time the Najdorf is dominant, although both draws in the Sveshnikov were very important from a theoretical viewpoint.

Download PGN of May ’19 Open Sicilian games

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Sveshnikov 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c4 b4 12.Nc2 a5 13.g3 [B33]

Our first game, Nisipeanu, L - Nihal, S, saw Liviu-Dieter deviate from his successful encounter vs Radjabov by 16.Nxf6+, followed by the novelty 18.Re1:

In response Sarin chose an ambitious and anti-positional plan with 18...Kh8?! and 19...f5 and came under strong pressure. However, after this he started to defend exceptionally well and managed to save half a point.

At the moment it looks like 15...Rc8 is still viable, but on move 18 Black should have played 18...a4!, intending to open-up the a-file.

Sveshnikov 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5 Nb8 9.a4 Be7 10.Be2 0-0 11.0-0 Nd7 12.Bd2 [B33]

In the game Svidler, P - Caruana, P Peter decided to test his opponent's preparation in the fashionable line with 7.Nd5, that has become extremely popular due to Fabiano's efforts. In the position after 18.Bxf3:

Black played the new move 18...Bf6, that I had previously recommended bin my notes to Caruana - Carlsen. I have to admit that I'd somewhat underestimated Black's strategic issues, and Peter's 19.c3! might offer White some edge. The really critical moment came on the next move, when White chose the timid 20.Be2 and let Black develop sufficient counterplay on the k-side. The game ended in a draw after some interesting play.

Taimanov 7.a3 Nf6 8.f4 d6 9.Qf3 [B48/B82]

The game Domingo Nunez, A - Van Foreest, J saw Black employ the 9...Be7 that I had previously given as an improvement over Grischuk - Cori in the archives. In the critical diagram position after 10...0-0:

White chose the somewhat slow 11.Rg1, but after 12...e5?! this would have worked well had he played 13.Rc4! The further play was full of mutual mistakes, but the higher-rated opponent eventually took over the initiative and won.

Undoubtedly 7.a3 should be tested more, while 11.Nxc6!? seems more promising than 11.Rg1.

Najdorf 6.Bd3 e5 [B90]

In Anand, V - Keymer, V the players entered the rare theoretical position after 14.Rc1:

At this moment Vincent came up with the dubious novelty 14...Bf8?! and came under strong positional pressure. Vishy mostly handled the position very well, but 24.Bg5?! could have let Vincent solve major problems. Luckily for GM Anand his young opponent returned the favor with 26...Ne5?, and eventually lost.

In general, this game illustrates the merits of the relatively rare 6.Bd3!? quite well.

Najdorf 6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Bg3 Bg7 10.Qd2 Nc6 11.Nb3 [B90]

In my opinion, the game Carlsen, M - Vachier Lagrave, M has exceptional theoretical value.

In the diagram position after 13.Bxh4, that already occurred in Magnus's practice (8 years ago he beat Grischuk in this line) Maxim played 13...b5, and after 14.f4 b4 15.Na4 he faced problems with finding a constructive plan. It turns out that the Na4 cannot easily be trapped, whereas Black's king is in permanent danger. In the further interesting play Magnus managed to outplay his opponent and won a pawn. However, after this he started to err, and 31.Qe2?! could have spoiled all his advantage. Luckily for Magnus, Black immediately returned the favor with 33...Rxa4? and was quickly crushed.

In general, after this game it looks like 11...Be6 12.h4! is rather dangerous for Black. Possibly 11...Nge5!?, as played by the great Garry, will become more popular soon.

Najdorf 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 h5 9.Nd5 Bxd5 10.exd5 Nbd7 11.Qd2 g6 12.Be2 [B90]

Another theoretical discussion took place in Bocharov, I - Sjugirov, S, where the players entered the theoretical position after 15.c4:

Here Sanan made the flexible move 15...Re8, and later came up with the natural novelty 17...Kh7. The critical moment came on move 20, when the impulsive 20.f4?! allowed Black to seize the initiative. Generally speaking, it was a well-played game by Sanan, who effectively exploited a few of his opponent's mistakes and won convincingly.

Regarding the opening, 15...Re8 seems to offer Black adequate counterplay.

Najdorf 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Bc4 Qb6 8.Bb3 e6 9.Qd2 Be7 10.0-0-0 Nc5 11.Rhe1 [B94]

The game Papp, Ga - Garriga Cazorla, P can be considered a typical opening disaster. In the well-known theoretical position after 11...Qc7:

Gabor went for the aggressive 12.f4 h6 13.e5, that wasn't seen on our site before. Alas, Black immediately went astray with 14...Nh7? and was crushed by a direct attack.

Undoubtedly, the correct 14...hxg5 should be tested more in practice, as at the moment it doesn't look problematic for Black.

Najdorf Poisoned Pawn Declined 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 h6 8.Bh4 Qb6 9.a3 [B96]

The last game, Tsydypov, Z - Rodshtein, M , saw White employ the rare 14.Bd3 in one of most actual theoretical lines:

Maxim naturally reacted with 14...Nc5 and 15...d5, but soon committed a serious mistake, 17...0-0-0?, and found himself in a difficult situation with no counterplay. Moreover, his next impulsive move 18...g5? led to a quick collapse. Despite such a striking victory over a strong opponent, 14.Bd3 doesn't seem to pose Black fresh problems. For instance, 14...g5!?, as previously played by GM Wojtaszek, looks like an attractive alternative.

See you next month, Michael

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