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Hello and welcome to this month's update on the Sicilian mainlines, mainly looking at the Taimanov and Najdorf.

Download PGN of October '13 Open Sicilian games

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The Kan 5 Nc3 Qc7 [B43]

The first game I'd like to look at is Smirnov, P - Mamedov, N where White struck with 11.e5!:

The sort of straight-forward attacking move that Sicilian killers love to play. White grabs the e4 square and can already start to take aim at the Black king. However, Black is not without defensive resources. That's what I love about the Sicilian, it appeals to counter-attacking players like myself who don't mind withstanding a bit of early pressure, confident in the knowledge that our game is based on sound strategic principles.

The Taimanov 5...Qc7 6 Ndb5 - queen sac line [B47]

In the next game, Popov, I - Gagunashvili, M, I analyse the very interesting line that occurs after 6.Ndb5:

It was suggested on the Forum that it was about time that ChessPub took a look at this variation, so your wish is my command! Please do post on the forum any suggestions for future updates.

Anyhow, this line seems almost to lead by force, to a position that is incredibly hard to assess. After 13.Qg4:

Black has three pieces for the queen, and the engines seem to prefer his chances, but arguably White's position is easier to play- he has a clear plan of creating a passed-pawn on the queenside. Practical examples seem to back this up.

The Taimanov Be3 and Bd3, 8...Nxd4 [B48]

In Solak, D - Safarli, E another mainline of the Taimanov is discussed, where White went on the attack with 15.Rxf6!:

While far from winning by force, it is clear that White is having all the fun in this position. In fact the idea of lifting the rook from e1-to e3 is quite a common one in this line, and Black defenders need to be on their guard to avoid an early calamity.

The Classical Richter-Rauzer 9 f4 [B67]

Naiditsch, A - Kozul, Z was an attacking tour-de-force by the German number one. He displayed his intentions early one with the hyper-aggressive 14.f5!:

Really getting to the point of the position. This is generally Black's problem in this line- although the presence of the two bishops tend to give him excellent long-term chances, his doubled pawns can become a target for aggressive white attacking play.

The Najdorf 6 h3 e5 [B90]

In Fedorchuk, S - Cheparinov, I we analyse an interesting new idea in the increasingly popular 6.h3 Najdorf, where White chose to play the move 7.Nf3!?:

This has the advantage over the usual 7.Nde2 that it doesn't restrict the development of the bishop on f1.

In Grischuk, A - Wojtaszek, R White tried the only other knight retreat, 7.Nb3. However, later on in this game Black even took over the initiative, as after 13..Rc8!:

He had a dream Najdorf position, with all his pieces located on ideal stations. Later on he went on to lose a long endgame, although this had little to do with the opening. The ball is still in White's court in the 6.h3 variation.

6 Be3 Ng4 [B90]

Finally, in Korneev, O - Zhigalko, S we analyse the ever-popular 6...Ng4 line of the 6.Be3 Najdorf.

Gelfand seems to be the main defender of this line for Black these days, with the retirement of Kasparov, and his results are fabulous starting from the position after 10..Ne5!:

Which was also played in our main game. Black has to play with vigour, no doubt- after all he has already created some weaknesses on the kingside that White can hope to exploit. But with accurate play his chances are considerable.

Anyway I hope you enjoy this update, and I look forward to doing many more in the future! And please send me feedback on the forum! Danny.

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