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Dear Subscribers,
This time selecting the games was a tough task - we had several exciting events such as the World Cup in Baku and the Rapid World Championship, so there were much more than 8 attractive games. Anyway, as always you can find important novelties and uncompromising Sicilian battles in various theoretical lines.

Download PGN of October '15 Open Sicilian games

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The Grivas Sicilian 4...Qb6 Setup with 7.Qe2 [B32]

In our first game Caruana, F - Azarov, S Black employed the rather recent idea 11...a5, which was covered on our site before. White's natural novelty 12.Kb1 led to the critical diagram position:

It looks like had Black played 12...Rd8! the position would be perfectly playable, but 12...a4? 13.Nd2 already looked fairly bad for Azarov, so Fabiano managed to achieve a convincing victory.

In general, Fabiano's novelty doesn't seem to refute Black's original way of handling the position, but this still feels shaky. White definitely has some dangerous ideas, such as 12.f4!?, so I am not sure if we will see many followers of 11...a5.

Kan/Taimanov 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Qc7 7.a3 [B41]

Our next game Kryvoruchko, Y - Papin, V has exceptional theoretical value, since grabbing a pawn by means of 7...Nxe4 is a principled approach which was never explored on our site before.

It looks like GM Kryvoruchko was well-prepared for this rare line, since in the diagram position after 9....Qxd4 he went for the unusual but rather strong 10.Qe2! Indeed, as the analyses prove, Black's position doesn't seem playable after it. In this particular game White's play wasn't the most precise, but Papin still had unpleasant problems to solve and eventually lost the game.

Classical Richter-Rauzer 7...Be7 8.0-0-0 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 a6 10.h4 [B66]

In Inarkiev, E - Korobov, A White's aggressive way of handling the well-known position after 10.h4 was fully justified once again.

I guess Anton missed something in his preparation, since after his unsuccessful innovation 11...e5?! Black had no compensation for losing control of the d5-square. White was clearly better, but Inarkiev's mistake on the 14th move spoiled everything, so Black got decent counter-play. Luckily for Ernesto at some point Korobov overestimated his position, so White did get a full point at the end.

In general, 10.h4!? looks like one one of White's most dangerous ideas in this line. As a possible improvement I can suggest 11...Qc7!?, but we need more practical tests for a better assessment.

Najdorf 6.h3 g6 [B90]

In our next game Radjabov, T - Smirin, I Black went for a considerably less popular Dragon Setup against 6.h3, but Radjabov was well prepared and introduced the decent novelty 12.Nde2, which seems rather annoying for Black:

However, just 2 moves later the higher-rated player started to err, and so a draw in this game was definitely a disappointing result for Ilya Smirin.

Still, it seems that after 6...g6 Black fails to get comfortable play, but maybe further practical tests will change this assessment.

Najdorf 6.h3 e6 7.g4 h6 [B90/81]

In Shirov, A - Korobov, A the players were following the exciting encounter Anand-Vachier Lagraeve till move 12, when Anton deviated with 12...Nxd4 13.Nxd4 e5, and after 14.Nf5 exf4 15.Bxf4 Ne5 White has to choose a way of handling the complex arising position:

It looks like had Shirov played 16.b3, it would not be easy for Black to solve his space problems. Instead of this, the ultra-aggressive 16.Qd5?!, followed by 18.Qxa8? led Alexei to a dodgy position, which he eventually lost.

Generally speaking the ball is still in Black's court in this fashionable line.

Najdorf 6.h3 e6 7.g4 Be7 8.g5 [B90]

In our next game Oparin, G - Djurovic, G the players entered into an extremely sharp theoretical position after 11...Nb6, when Grigory came up with the aggressive new idea 12.Qh5!?:

No doubt it was played after some deep home preparation, since Oparin had a negative experience in this line before. Indeed, as the analyses prove, Black has to play very precisely in order to get an adequate position, but this task was too tough for Djurovic. After 14...Rc8? (Instead, correct was 14...Nc5!) Black's position was already very difficult, so one more mistake on move 17 allowed White to score a convincing victory.

Instead he may have been able to save the game with a beautiful zig-zag series of rook sacifices - see the notes.

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

The game Sutovsky, E - Shirov, A saw another theoretical discussion in a rare sharp line, where Emil had a positive experience before. It looks like Alexei's preparation wasn't perfect this time, so his new idea 13...Bxc3?!:

14.bxc3 e4 was strongly met by 15.0-0-0! White's position was clearly better till move 18 when Emil erred with 18.Qb5?!, allowing Black to sac his queen and change the character of the play. Luckily for Sutovsky, his strong opponent soon returned the favour, so after Black's mistake on move 22 the game was soon over.

Najdorf 6.g3 e5 7.Nb3 [B91]

In our last game Smirin, I - Shirov, A Black went for the extremely risky 7...b5, trying to fight for the initiative at an early stage of the game. This time Ilya was prepared for it, since this rare move was already seen in his games before.

In the diagram position after 9...Bb7 he correctly removed his knight from the centre, forcing Black to recapture on f6 with his queen. As a result, Black was suffering from a lack of harmony during the whole game. Even though Smirin's play wasn't the most precise, Shirov was forced to resign as early as move 24. No doubt it was a painful end to the Poikovsky tournament for Alexei Shirov.

Regarding the opening, the early ...b7-b5 advance is definitely not recommended!

See you next month, Enjoy! Michael Roiz

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