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We cover a mix of dangerous sidelines and critical main lines this month, but perhaps the main thing to keep an eye open for is the number of stunning blows on display, in both the main games and the notes. Theoreticians may also be interested to know that the risky 6 Bg5 e6 7 f4 Nc6!? variation of the Najdorf is currently in some danger and I certainly haven't yet found a way to patch it up, as we'll see.

Download PGN of October '11 Open Sicilian games

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The Cobra [B45]

For those not sure what this is, it's 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6 6 Ndb5 Bc5!?:

In Bacrot - Wiersma White couldn't resist the temptation to check, but that loses the initiative and I'd be very surprised if the French Grandmaster was overly happy with his position coming out of the opening stage.

The correct approach is 7 Bf4! when Black can't avoid the sequence 7...0-0 8 Bc7 Qe7 9 Bd6 Bxd6 10 Qxd6, which just gives White a pretty pleasant edge. Black has tried various ways to grovel, but I certainly wouldn't want to defend this position and Black was only given one real chance in Zhigalko - Brochet.

The Taimanov - English Attack [B48]

The English Attack approach with 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Be3 a6 7 Qd2 Nf6 8 0-0-0 remains pretty topical, as does in reply the so-called 'Brazilian Taimanov', 8...Be7 9 f3 0-0 10 g4 b5 11 g5 Nh5. The main line has been 12 Nce2, but 12 Kb1!? might be a better try, intending the aggressive 12...Ne5 13 f4!:

White has scored several crushing victories from here of late, but all may not be lost for Black, as we'll see in the notes to Motylev - Laznicka.

The Kempinski Variation 5...e5 [B54]

I'm not too sure how to refer to the variation 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 e5!?, so have dubbed it after its leading practitioner:

The critical test must be 6 Nf5! Bxf5 7 exf5 and now 7...Be7 8 g4!? was introduced in Gashimov - Kempinski. White's Keres-style play looks quite dangerous, but may not be enough for a definite advantage, as we'll see. The game features some beautiful variations and non-Daily Telegraph readers may like to try and work out what White should play in the following position:

Richter-Rauser [B65]

It's been a while since we considered the important main line 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Bg5 e6 7 Qd2 Be7 8 0-0-0 0-0 9 f4 Nxd4 10 Qxd4 Qa5. This month we consider developments after both 11 Bc4 and the more forcing 11 e5 dxe5 12 Qxe5 Qxe5 13 fxe5 Nd5 14 Bxe7 Nxe7 15 Bd3 b6 16 Be4 Rb8 17 Rhe1:

From what I can see White has excellent chances to emerge with a small but clear edge, although Black is most certainly not without his chances to draw, and does manage to hold in Nepomniachtchi - Wang Hao.

The Najdorf: 6 Be3 e5 7 Nf3 [B90]

We begin by rounding up some developments after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e5 7 Nf3, focussing especially on 7...Qc7 8 a4 Be7 9 Be2 0-0 in Agopov - Palliser. Black remains in decent shape here from what I can see.

The Najdorf: 6 Bg5, 7...Nc6 [B96]

A sharper line is the controversial choice 6 Bg5 e6 7 f4 Nc6!?. After 8 Nxc6 bxc6 9 e5 h6 10 Bh4 g5 11 fxg5 Nd5 12 Ne4 Qb6 a critical tabiya is reached:

13 c4 used to be condemned, but Kuzmin's new idea of 13...Qxb2 14 g6! may make it playable, if not a continuation Black should fear, as we'll note in Carstensen - Gormally. Somewhat more dangerous, however, is 13 c3!, which has even been touted as a refutation after plenty of recent analysis in New in Chess Yearbook. Black must abandon the capture on b2, but 13...dxe5 14 g6! still favours White, as we'll see in Galyas - Kantor.

I'm sure we'll consider more exciting developments in the 6 Bg5 Najdorf next month! Until then, Richard

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