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Hello everyone,
This month we have a rare case of an Open Sicilian update where most of the games are not dedicated to the Najdorf! I am also glad to finally introduce an exciting theoretical discussion in the 4 Knights, as requested by a subscriber a few months ago. There is no single draw, and most of the games were decided by a direct attack on the king. Hopefully, you will enjoy it!

Download PGN of November ’19 Open Sicilian games

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Sveshnikov 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5 Ne7 [B33]

We start with Deac, B - Banusz, T, where the players entered an important theoretical position after 12...h5:

At this point White played the natural 13.g3, which is new for our PGN Archive, and probably this came as a surprise to GM Banusz. Indeed, he quickly went astray with a bad novelty 15...a5? and soon got into a strategically bad position. Had he played something like 19...f5 Black could have stayed in the game, but 19...Bg4? allowed GM Deac to win the game in elegant style. Undoubtedly, Black's play can be improved with either 15...0-0 or 15...b5!?

Sveshnikov 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5 Nb8 9.a4 [B33]

The next game, Alekseenko, K - Piorun, K, saw another theoretical discussion in one of most fashionable lines of the Sveshnikov. In the position after 15.f4:

Black correctly deviated from 15...Nc5?, as previously commented on in Esipenko – Gelfand, but 15...exf4 16.Bxf4 b6?! led to similar strategic problems. However, starting from 19.Bd3?! Kirill started to spoil his advantage, and eventually he only won due to Kasper's blunder on move 32. This dramatic game was very important from a sporting point of view, as the Russian team managed to win the event because of it.

Kan 5.g3 [B41]

I think that our next game, Smirin, I - Pantsulaia, L, will mostly attract Kan fans. Indeed, the position after 5.g3!? is new to our site, and it looks quite promising! Levan's 5...d5 seems the most challenging, while 6.Nb3! definitely sets Black major problems:

The first critical moment of the game came on move 11, when GM Pantsulaia carelessly played 11...Bd6?! and let White rapidly develop his initiative with 12.Nc4. Black's subsequent play can easily be improved too (not 17...Bxd6?) but Smirin's energetic play in this game still looks very impressive.

Even though 11...Ne5! looks acceptable, the ball is still in Black's court after 5.g3!?

The Four Knights 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Nd5 8.Ne4 Qc7 9.f4 Qb6 [B45]

In the game Karjakin, S - Dreev, A the players were following one of Sergey's previous encounters, when, in the position after 15...Bb7:

he 'accidentality' deviated with 16.g4? Moreover, GM Shirov trusted Karjakin's preparation and made the same mistake in his game the same day! Amazingly, in both games Black missed the chance to develop a crushing attack with 18...0-0, so after 18...Qh4? Black quickly found himself in big trouble. In our game Alexei could still have put up some resistance had he played 20...d6!, while 20...Nf2+? led to an immediate collapse.

Well, instead of 16.g4? White definitely has to play 16.Rd1 Rc8 17.g4, as Karjakin intended, and it looks like Black has certain problems to solve.

Taimanov 5...a6 6.g3 d6 7.Nxc6!? [B46]

The game Nasuta, G - Korneev, O saw Grzegorz takes the game into long positional paths with 7.Nxc6!?:

A similar plan was well illustrated in Carlsen - Rapport, see the Archive. The arising pawn structure looks very comfortable for White, while Black's counterplay is very limited. In fact, I could hardly see any serious mistakes by GM Korneev (apart from 20...Nb8?!, but at this point his position was already unpleasant), and he was defeated by a direct attack.

Classical Richter-Rauzer 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Bd7 9.f4 b5 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Kb1 [B67]

The next game, Saric, I - Vovk, A, saw Ivan employ the 12.Nce2 !? that was covered on our site a long time ago:

Black responded with the standard 12...h5, but after 13.h4! he quickly faced big problems defending the h5-pawn. On move 14 Andriy wrongly wasted a tempo on 14...Kb8?! and soon his king came under strong pressure. Despite the inaccurate 27.Nxe6?! it was a well-played game by GM Saric.

Regarding the opening, 12...Rc8!? looks somewhat more flexible then 12...h5, but we need more practical tests to prove this assessment.

Najdorf 6.h3 e6 7.g4 h6 8.Bg2 Be7 [B81/90]

In the game Rodshtein, M - Yilmaz, M White quickly surprised his opponent with an original novelty, 9.a3:

In reply Mustafa went for a somewhat risky, but very ambitious setup with 9...g5, with the idea of securing e5 for his knight. His choice was fully justified in the game, since Maxim first wrongly sacrificed a pawn with 13.f4?, and then desperately gave up a piece with 16.0-0-0? As a result, Mustafa quickly managed to convert his extra material into a full point.

Possibly 9.a3 should be tested more often in practice, while 9...Nc6!? seems the most challenging response at the moment.

Najdorf 6.h3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f4 b5 [B90]

In our last game, Visakh, N R - Bronstein, O, the young Israeli player came up with the important novelty 10...Nbd7!:

And this makes Black's position much more attractive than it was before. On move 15 White took too much risk with15.f5? and after 15...a5! Black was the first to develop his attack. The further play was full of mutual mistakes, but it was a really exciting struggle! Eventually the lower-rated opponent scored a victory in nice style.

See you next month, Michael

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