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Hello everyone,
I guess that we are all happy to follow the top tournament in Norway, since we have really missed such events. Of course, I was happy to select one of the games from there. Also, we have some new opening ideas right at the very beginning of the game!

Download PGN of October ’20 Open Sicilian games

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Taimanov 6.g3 a6 7.Bg2 Nf6 8.0-0 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Bc5 [B47]

We start with Tari, A - Caruana, F, where Fabiano again demonstrated his deep opening preparation. In the well-known theoretical position after 12. Be3:

he went for the rare 12...Bxe3!?, inviting White to liquidate into an endgame with extra pawn. In response, Aryan came up with the natural novelty 16.a4, but it doesn't seem to change the evaluation - the poor light-squared bishop and inferior pawn structure make it almost impossible to convert White's extra pawn. Moreover, after making few passive moves White found himself under strong pressure, and eventually lost.

The rare 5...e5 [B56]

The next game, Petrov, M - Spasov, L, saw Black employ the very rare 5...e5, which was never previously mentioned on our site:

IM Petrov reacted pretty well, and had he played 20.Qd5! his opponent could have regretted his opening choice. Instead, 20.Qa7?! followed by 21.Qe7? drastically changed the situation, and at the end White was defeated.

In general, 5...e5 is a risky choice, and White can choose between several promising options, such are 8.Ba4!?

Classical 6.f3 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Be3 0-0 9.Qd2 [B56]

The game AllieStein - LCZero has a certain theoretical value for this sharp line, which was covered a long time ago in the memorable game Fedorov - Ivanchuk. In the position after 12.a3:

LCZero played 12...Qc7!?, intending to push ...d6-d5 at the proper moment. Indeed, after 13.Kb1 d5, followed by 14...d4 Black managed to quickly regain the piece and liquidate into a rook endgame. It wasn't a dead draw, but the defensive approach that was demonstrated by LCZero looks very convincing.

Undoubtedly, the ball is in White's court now.

Najdorf 6.h4 e5 [B90]

The next game, Kupervaser, E - Nedobora, M, saw an interesting theoretical discussion in the relatively rare line with 6.h4. The diagram position after 10.Qd2 was previously covered in Reshef - Erenberg, where Black was convincingly crushed.

This time IM Nedobora made a better move, 10....Ne5, but went astray immediately after with 11...Bg4? As a result, Erez managed to quickly develop a powerful attack and decide the game.

The real test of 10...Ne5 would be seen had Black played 11....Be7.

Najdorf 6.Bd3 g6 [B90]

In the game Karjakin, S - Paravyan, D the players quickly deviated from known paths. In the position after 7.Be3:

David played the rare 7...Ng4!?, and after 8.Bg5 came up with the natural novelty 8...Nc6. In response GM Karjakin decided to move his knight from the centre, but this approach doesn't seem to bother Black. Indeed, by making natural moves David managed to solve all his problems, and moreover, the inaccurate 15.Rae1?! allowed Black to seize the initiative with 15...Nc4! Alas, Sergey was far from his best, so the game was soon decided in Black's favor.

Undoubtedly, David's way of handling the position looks quite attractive at the moment.

Najdorf 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 h5 9.Qd2 Nbd7 10.Nd5 with 12.0-0-0 [B90]

The next theoretical discussion took place in Wei Yi - Giri, A. In the position after 13.Be2:

Anish introduced the fresh plan with 13...b5!?, which was previously tested in some corr games. Wei Yi responded with the natural idea of transferring the knight to c6, but it required the exchange of the dark-squared bishop. Still, he could have challenged Anish's innovation 17...a5 with 18.c3!, but instead 18.Qd3?! soon led him into an inferior endgame. The further play was a definite positional masterpiece from GM Anish Giri.

Najdorf 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 h6 8.Bh4 Nbd7 [B96]

In the next game, Vallejo Pons, F - Piceu, T, Black attempted to improve on Anand - Nepomniatchi with 10...Nxe5!?:

In response, GM Vallejo Pons occupied the d5-spot, but I am not sure that this is the most promising idea. In fact, in a corr game after 13...Qa5+! Black managed to fully solve his problems. Alas, starting from 13...Be6 Tom started to go astray and eventually was nicely outplayed.

Najdorf 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 0-0?! [B98]

In our last game, Komodo ScorpioNN, Black tried the rare and risky setup with the early 8...0-0?!:

Komodo's attacking style was perfectly illustrated here - starting from the strong novelty 12.exd6! that allowed White to quickly develop a powerful attack. The further play was very spectacular, while the brilliant 20.Re8!! and the cold-blooded 23.Qg8! were especially impressive to the human eye.

See you next month, Michael

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