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Hello everyone,
I am happy to offer you another Update that includes various theoretical lines. An uncompromising struggle was seen in all of the games. Enjoy!

Download PGN of November ’20 Open Sicilian games

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Kalashnikov 6.N1c3 a6 7.Na3 Be6 8.Nc4 Rb8!? [B32]

GM Parham Maghsoodloo has recently scored a few nice victories with the Kalashnikov, including beating Vishy Anand (see the last Update). This time, in Kuybokarov, T - Maghsoodloo, P he employed another fresh idea that was never seen on our site before, 8...Rb8!?:

White reacted with the common 9.Ne3 Nf6 10.g3, but I am not sure if this setup poses Black any problems. In general, it was a high-level play for both sides till move 26, when 26.Ra7?? should have led to a quick loss, but in reply Parham blundered with 28...f5??, and at the end it was White who missed a win.

Taimanov 5...a6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Qf3!? [B46]

The game Nakamura, H - Razmirez, A saw White employ a relatively new setup with 7.Qf3!? d5 8.Qg3:

Unexpectedly, the most natural move 8...Nf6 (as played in most of games) turned out to be inaccurate, so after 9.Be2 White quickly seized the initiative. Moreover, the unsuccessul innovation 10...dxc3? led Black into a lost position, which he managed to hold for a long time. It was only after 30...f5? that Ramirez's position finally collapsed.

In my opinion, Black should play 8...h5!, but we need more practical tests to substantiate this assessment.

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

An interesting theoretical discussion took place in the match Karjakin-Vidit. The Indian Grandmaster player deviated from the memorable game Timofeev - Eliseev with 13...h5, and the position after 14.fxe6 fxe6 was tested twice:

First, in Karjakin, S - Vidit, S, Sergey tried 15.Bd3, and after 15...b4! 16.Ne2 Bh6 Black left his king in the centre and obtained a decent position. A few moves later White came up with the natural novelty 19.b3, but it didn't pose Black any problems. The further interesting play was full of mutual mistakes, when 35.g4?? was just a terrible blunder, allowing checkmate in one move.

It looks like Sergey did his homework, so in his next white game, Karjakin, S - Vidit, S, he played 15.Qe1!, which seems to be the most promising. As in the previous game, GM Vidit decided to place his bishop on h6, but this time it was a serious mistake - White quickly developed a powerful attack with 18.Ne2!, sacrificing the central pawn. Even though GM Karjakin missed a few great attacking possibilities such as 19.Qh4! and 21.Ng3!, Black's position was tough to handle. As a result, GM Vidit erred as well and was eventually defeated by a direct attack.

Undoubtedly, after 15.Qe1! the ball is now back in Black's court.

Najdorf 6.Bd3 g6 7.Be3 Nc6 [B90]

The next game, Karjakin, S - Duda, J saw Sergey improve his play from the previous game between the same players, where White didn't have anything special after 10.Nd5. This time White played 10.Qe2!? and after 10...0-0 11.0-0 e5 12.Bf2 got some structural advantage:

Sergey missed a few good possibilities, and after 17...b5 Black managed to develop sufficient counter-play on the q-side. Moreover, the passive 22.Ne2?! led to an unpleasant position, which GM Karjakin failed to defend.

Still, 10.Qe2!? looks rather promising, and I expect further practical tests of this position.

Najdorf 6.h3 h6!? [B90]

In the game Maghsoodloo, P - Carlsen, M Black went for the surprising 6...h6!?:

White reacted with the quiet 7.a4, and after 7...e5 Black quickly obtained a comfortable position. However, soon Magnus chose a faulty plan with 9...b6?! which could have led to an unpleasant position had Parham played 12.g4! Instead of this, after 12.Nd5 an approximate balance was kept till the end of the game.

It looks like after the most challenging 7.g4 Black has nothing better than playing 7...e6, taking the game back into well-known paths. However, maybe Magnus had another idea in mind?

Najdorf 6.h3 e6 7.g4 Be7 8.g5 Nfd7 9.Be3 b5 10.a3 [B90]

The game Duda, J - Grischuk, A saw the players enter one of the sharpest theoretical positions after 14.0-0-0:

Now Alexander went for the relatively rare 14...Nc5!? 15.f3 Rb8!, which he most probably analyzed long before the game. In response, GM Duda came up with an unsuccessful innovation, 16.Rg1?!, but it was fully justified in a practical game. In fact, GM Grischuk immediately went astray with 18...Ne6?!, and soon came under strong pressure. The further play was full of mutual mistakes, where even the final position (where the moves ended) doesn't seem lost for Alexander.

Undoubtedly, 14...Nc5!? looks quite attractive for the second player.

Najdorf 6.h3 e5 7.Nde2 h5 8.Bg5 Be6 9.Bxf6 Qxf6 10.Nd5 [B90]

We finish with another game Duda, J - Grischuk, A, where another well-known theoretical line with 6...e5 occurred. In the diagram position after 14.Nec3:

Alexander employed the fresh 14...Bg7!?, which may not be inferior to the usual 14...Bh6. However, on the next move he went wrong with 15...0-0?!, so that White was able to quickly develop a dangerous attack by means of 18.g4! Even though GM Duda's further play was far from perfect, his victory was well-deserved.

Anyway, the position after 15...b5! (instead of 15...0-0?!) looks perfectly playable for Black.

See you next month, Michael

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