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Hi everyone,
This month we have 8 exciting games - no draws, almost all of them have important theoretical value and were decided in great attacking style. I hope you will enjoy it!

Download PGN of November '14 Open Sicilian games

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The Kan 5.Bd3 Bc5 6.Nb3 Be7 7.f4!? [B42]

Our first game Laznicka, V - Bernasek, J saw quite a rare and aggressive set-up, which may pose Black definite problems. The critical position has arisen after 8.Qf3:

The real test for White's approach would be 8...Nc6, while after the game's 8...Nd7?! Black's counter-play becomes problematic. 11...Bb7?! was already played in a few previous games, but it leads to a very difficult position, and in the end Viktor won quite convincingly.

The Taimanov 6.Be3 a6 7.Qf3!? [B48]

The game Boruchovsky, A - Sanzhaev, D illustrates White's attacking possibilities in this fashionable line. In fact, Black's response - 7...Nf6 8.0-0-0 Be7 looks quite solid, but Avital was able to extend his k-side initiative very fast.

In the Diagram position, after 11.g5, Black should have opted for 11...Nd7. Instead, 11...Nxd4?! and 13...Re8? allowed White to develop a decisive attack by means of transferring the rook to h3. Avital's play wasn't precise either, and he was lucky to win at the end.

The line with this aggressive 7.Qf3 is becoming more and more popular, and it was also seen in Karjakin, S - Giri, A. Anish came up with an interesting idea - 7...Ne5 8.Qf3 h5, which looks like a reasonable approach. Indeed, Black had some decent options like 9...Nf6!? or 11...h4!? and the position looks perfectly playable in both cases.

However, in the Diagram position after 12.e5 he went wrong with 12...dxe5?, and this should have led to an immediate disaster. Karjakin's response wasn't the most effective, though, so Black did have some practical chances, although unluckily for Giri, he wasn't able to exploit them in this game.

Taimanov English Attack 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.0-0-0 Be7 [B48]

Our next game Shirov, A - Iturrizaga, E saw another theoretical discussion in a fashionable line. 11...b4!? Looks like a decent alternative to the main continuation 11...Bb7. In fact, it looks like after both 12.Na4 or 12.Ne2 Black should be able to get reasonable counter-chances. The critical moment comes on move 13 after 12...Bb7:

Had Alexei played 13.Ng3 here the position would remain double-edged, while, instead, after 13.g5?! Nxe4! Black took over the initiative and achieved a nice victory at the end. Anyway, the ball is definitely in White's court in this line!

Taimanov Long Variation 6.Be2 a6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Be3 Bb4 9.Nxc6!? [B49]

The game Duda, J - Cori, J can be considered to be a major cause of worry for Taimanov players, as it offers White a fresh way to fight for the initiative. Indeed, in the Diagram position after 10.f4 I can hardly suggest a convincing way to equalize:

Taking the pawn by means of 10...Bxc3 and 11...Nxe4 looks like the only way to avoid an inferior position, but it promises White excellent compensation and requires further practical tests. Instead, the text move 10...0-0 gives White a small, but stable positional advantage, and the young Polish Grandmaster was able to win a nice game without taking much risk.

Najdorf with 6.h3 e5 7.Nde2 h5 [B90]

In our next game Ponomariov, R - Areschenko, A Black tried the risky novelty 9...0-0.

In the Diagram position after 11.a4 (White has some alternatives, but Ruslan's play looks quite principled) Black's position looks somewhat dodgy. Still, the real test of Alexander's novelty would be the position arising after 11...b6 12.g4 h4! Instead of this, the inaccurate move 11...Qc7? enabled Ponomariov to win the game in great style.

Najdorf with 6.h3 e6 7.g4 d5 [B90]

The game Svidler, P - Kraemer, M also has definite theoretical value. 8.Bg2 doesn't look like the most dangerous way to meet the freeing 7...d5, but the German player was unable to solve his problems.

In the critical Diagram position after 10.Bxe4 Black should be able to neutralize the pressure along the diagonal h1-a8 with 10....e5! However, instead 10...Bc5? allowed Peter to secure an advantage and develop a strong attack at the end.

Najdorf with 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 h6 8. Bh4 Be7, 11.Be2 [B99]

Our next game Almasi, Z - Bogner, S saw a sharp line which was examined on our site earlier. Black tried the rather fashionable 11...0-0!?, which deserves quite a lot of theoretical knowledge from both sides. White had a couple of respectable alternatives, but Zoltan's play till move 16 looks the most principled:

The real test of this line for Black would be the position after 16...Nb6! However, Bogner went for 16...Nc5?! and faced unpleasant problems in the arising endgame. Some further mistakes allowed Almasi to score the full point.


See you next month, Michael

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