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Hi, Firstly, many apologies for the tardiness of this update, I have many excuses, the main one being I have being moving apartments this last month!

After October's World Championship, this month we already have games from the early rounds of the qualifying tournament for the next one! TonyK

Download PGN of November '05 Open Sicilian games

Lowenthal Variation [B32]

To my surprise Vallejo Pons tried the Lowenthal again:

and revealed why with a key novelty on move 14. White then played very dynamically but Black had just enough resources to draw. See Efimenko - Vallejo Pons.

Maybe this old opening isn't so bad after all?

Paulsen/Taimanov [B40 to B49]

Francesco wrote:

«Dear Tony,
Against the Paulsen & Taimanov I've always used to play the pawn in c4 (i.e. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.c4 & 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4).
However in the last years I faced some difficulty against Black's defence. I attach my last games. Could you review these variations in the Open Sicilian section and give some advice on whether this white approach is still valid or it is better to move towards other systems?»

If Black refrains from 6...Bb4 in the first of these lines, then after 5 c4 Nf6 6 Nc3 Qc7 White plays 7 a3:

I think this is a perfectly valid way of playing, but White should gear his play to exploiting his queenside space in the resulting Hedgehog structure, rather than trying to mix plans on both sides (by putting the light-squared bishop on d3, for instance).

Anyway, I have tried to show this more clearly in the annotations to Annageldyev - Koneru, and have included some of Francesco's games here as notes.

Regarding the second move order, I like this even less for White myself, as he wastes so many extra moves with his king's knight, but it is a reasonable way to play if you are adept at handling the Hedgehog positions that arise.

I can't help feeling that if White wants to attack on the kingside he should play differently, though.

In Grischuk - Istratescu, from the World Championship qualifier, White played the direct 7 Qg4:

Black's next move was an innovation which didn't work very well, and he was crushed - look out for Grischuk's surprising 15th move!

I would like to know what he had planned against the theoretical reply 7...Nf6, though.

Scheveningen [B80 to B89]

I liked the way Naiditsch played the Keres attack a couple of months ago, and so in Kosten - Tratar, I tried to repeat this (despite playing 1 Nf3!) and won quickly with a standard Nd5 sacrifice in this position:

Although my opponent's play could certainly be improved, I can't help feeling that Black might be better off playing ...Qb6 to drive the d4-knight from the centre, as in the Naiditsch-Movsesian game.

A first for!! Here is the same game with my annotations in French, which I made for the tournament organiser: Kosten - Tratar, my grammar mistakes should give our French subscribers (and two of my fellow contributors) a good laugh!

Something nasty happens to Black in Almasi - Ftacnik, where White switches from an English Attack to something more traditional by playing 7 f4:

Najdorf [B90 to B99]

I have received so many requests to look at 7...Qc7:

over the months, but haven't been able to find suitable recent games.

So, I finally decided to unearth the old game Berelovich - Istratescu, where White plays 12 Nxd5, in the following critical position:

In the notes I have attempted to answer Mike's question about whether 13...Nd7 is better than 13...Bb7, and to be frank they both look pretty good for Black!

Apart from the 9 Bxf6 of this last game, there is also the move 9 Bd3 see Berg - Vera but this seems a bit slow to me.

In my opinion White should go for the sharp complications of 9 0-0-0 which is seen in the notes to this last game, and includes a couple of my efforts from 25 years ago!!

Finally, Grant asked «Are you thinking of writing a second edition to "Easy Guide to the Najdorf", and assuming you were, would you still advocate 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Nc6 line?», and my reply was that I am so busy with this site and another one that I don't think I will be able to write a 2nd version of EGN for quite some while!

Would I still advocate the 7...Nc6 line? I really don't know, it took me ages to decide on that the first time around and if anything the decision has become even more difficult - there is really no 'easy' line for Black. I feel that 7...Qb6 is probably the strongest, but it involves memorising a lot of theory, being happy to face strong attacks, and top of that White can force a draw if he wants! In fact, these last two problems apply to several of Black's lines. Tony Kosten


Please feel free to share any of your thoughts with me, whatever they are, suggestions, criticisms (just the polite ones, please), etc. Drop me a line at the Open Sicilians Forum, or subscribers can write directly to