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As I mentioned last month, I am just looking at recent ideas in the Sozin and Two Knights here, which is probably the best timing, as there haven't been any Sicilians in the World Championship match so far! TonyK

Download PGN of September '06 Open Sicilian games

Classical Two Knights [B56]

First, a look at 6 h3!?:

This is a speciality of Movsesian, intending either Keres Attack-style play, or to continue as in 6 g3, with Bg2, 0-0, followed by Nge2-g3, see Movsesian, S - Likavsky, T, where Black plays very sharply, and White counters this with a queen sacrifice!

The English Attack isn't as important here as in the Najdorf, but still crops up very frequently. After 1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Nge2 Nf6 4 d4 cxd4 5 Nxd4 d6 6 f3 e5 7 Nb3 Be7 8 Be3 O-O 9 Qd2 a5!? we have already looked at 10 Bb5, but what about 10 Na4!? intending to plant a minor piece on b6?

Although obvious, this appears to be an error, as Black seems to be on top after both 10...Be6 11 Nb6 a4!?, (see Rodriguez, A - Milos, G which was so very nearly a brilliancy), and the simple 10...d5 of Wang Yu A-Kosintseva,T.

In both cases play is very sharp and Black must be prepared to sacrifice his queen's rook, so you need to know what you are doing!

According to me (!) in my Classical Sicilian CD, the move 9 Nd5 (instead of 9 Qd2) "has little point now, as Black can capture with his knight, ... keeping his light-squared bishop". Zhang Pengxiang-Dreev,A then continued 9...Nxd5 (which would be impossible if Black had his bishop on e6) 10 exd5 Nb8 11 Qd2 and now 11...f5!:

Black gets the kingside pawns moving before deciding on the best placement of the queenside pieces. Despite White's resourcefulness Black was always at least OK, and finally won.

Sozin with 6...e5 [B57]

Many, many years ago I was playing a tournament in Zagreb, and was very surprised when someone played this move against me:

It looks wrong, instead of blocking the a2-g8 diagonal Black weakens it! However, it is not nearly as bad as it looks (!), and Epishin has scored well with it.

After 7 Nf5 Black continues 7...Be6 when White maintained some advantage with 8 Ne3 in Flores Rios, M - Epishin, V, where Black was very lucky to get half a point. 8 Bb3 is normally preferred although Black can continue 8...g6 9 Ne3 Bh6 to exchange the dark-squared bishop, and despite the result of the game Macieja, B - Wojtaszek, R, he seems to be quite OK.

Boleslavsky with 7 Nf3 [B58]

Smyslov's plan 6 Be2 e5 7 Nf3 h6 8 O-O Be7 9 Re1 O-O 10 h3 Be6 11. Bf1 is a popular line, attempting to restrict Black's counterplay by stopping ...d5 (as the e5-pawn would then hang) and preparing Nd5.

Black's most solid reply is 11...Qa5 12. Bd2 Qd8 which is a sort of draw offer, as White can continue 13 Bc1 Qa5 14 Bd2 etc. However, 13. Na4 is critical, when White plans c4:

Now Black would like to be able to play 13...d5 14 exd5 Nxd5, but this loses a pawn after 15 Nxe5 Nxe5 16 Rxe5. Does Black get enough compensation? Yes, I think so, see Georgiev, K - Balogh, C.

The other popular line is 11...Nb8 redeploying the knight to d7 to help control d5, when the game Guliyev, N - Korotylev, A is a perfect example of how Black should plan his piece placement and subsequent plan.

The October update should arrive fairly soon, Tony Kosten


Please feel free to share any of your thoughts with me, whatever they are, suggestions, criticisms (just the polite ones, please), etc. Drop me a line at the Open Sicilians Forum, or subscribers can write directly to