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This update was almost finished when the European Club Cup in Rogaska Slatina (Rohitsch-Sauerbrunn for fans of Rubinstein) intervened. My team, White Rose, did pretty well, albeit at some slight cost to subscribers. Still, there's plenty of interesting material in this column and I'll be back again pretty soon to bring you the best of the Sicilian developments from the ECC, not to mention the Grand Slam finale.

Download PGN of September '11 Open Sicilian games

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The Kan 5 Nc3 b5 [B43]

If Black wants to get away with 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6 5 Nc3 b5 6 Bd3 Qb6 I have suggested that he needs to meet 7 Nf3 with the solid 7...Nc6 8 0-0 Qb8. This had been holding up well until the first game of the World Cup final where 9 Re1 Bd6!? (the move Black would like to make work, but perhaps he should go back to 9...d6) 10 e5! was introduced:

The e-pawn is immune and Black quickly found himself under some pressure in Grischuk - Svidler, before a lengthy spell of calm and instructive defence saw the Russian Champion turn the game around.

The Scheveningen 6 Be2 [B85]

I'm not too sure why White plumped for 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be2 d6 (taking play away from Taimanov waters) 7 0-0 Nf6 8 Be3 Be7 9 f4 0-0 10 Qe1 in Zherebukh - Navara. It's been many years since this was considered dangerous and with 10...Nxd4 11 Bxd4 b5 Black develops easy counterplay. Here 12 a3 Bb7 13 Qg3 g6 14 Bf3 a5! led to something of a tabiya:

White has tried several moves here and the young grandmaster opted for the fairly-critical capture on b5, but failed to obtain any advantage before losing his way, after which he was unable to save the game despite a spirited counterattack.

The Najdorf: 6 Bc4 [B87]

One of the most entertaining of all the mini-matches in Khanty-Mansiysk was Polgar-Dominguez which went right down to the blitz games. In the rapid stage Polgar essayed 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bc4 e6 7 0-0 b5 8 Bb3 Be7 9 Qf3 Qb6 10 Be3 Qb7, but now steered away from the main line, 11 Qg3, despite Mickey Adams' recent success with it. Instead there followed 11 a3 0-0 12 Rae1!? Bd7 13 g4!?:

This was very direct, but in Polgar - Dominguez Black found a good defence in 13...Nc6 14 g5 Ne5 15 Qg2 Nh5! and White was a little fortunate to later triumph after being forced into a pretty-desperate piece sacrifice.

The Najdorf: 6 h3 [B90]

While 6 Be3, 6 Bg5, 6 Be2 and 6 Bc4 remain White's main tries after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 there's no doubt that 6 h3!? continues to grow in popularity. Even Shirov has given this sideline a whirl of late! We begin our coverage with 6...Nc6 7 g4 e6 (I would be inclined to prefer a Dragon approach at this juncture) 8 Bg2 Qc7 9 f4 Nd7 10 Be3:

White's kingside play is quite developed compared to the classical and fianchetto lines of the Scheveningen, but Black should still be okay after 10...Be7 11 g5 b5. However, he wasted time on the queenside in Adams - Mas and was put to the sword on the other flank.

The next day in the same event in Los Angeles, Adams faced 6...e5 7 Nde2 h5!?, a prophylactic idea I quite like. Perhaps White emerged from the opening stage in Adams - Van Wely with a small nibble, but some timely exchanges saw Black hold without any real difficulty.

Finally, we turn our attention to the main line, 6...e6 7 g4 d5 8 exd5 Nxd5 9 Nde2 Bb4 10 Bg2 0-0 11 0-0 Nxc3 12 Nxc3 Qc7:

White doesn't get very far with 13 Ne4 in Shirov - Vachier Lagrave, but has enjoyed recent success with 13 Qf3 and 13 Qd4, both of which I expect to see more of over the coming months.

The Najdorf: 6 Be3 e5 [B90]

Another prophylactic advance which continues to hold up well for Black is 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e5 7 Nb3 Be6 8 f3 h5. White introduced an aggressive idea in Akopian - Nepomniachtchi with 9 Qd2 Nbd7 10 Be2 Rc8 11 0-0 Be7 12 f4!?:

The aim is obviously to try and show up the h5-pawn as being misplaced, but Black is solid enough here and held his own in the complications after 12...b5 13 a3 Nb6 14 Na5.

The Najdorf: 6 Bg5 Nbd7 [B94]

I've recently been on both sides of the trendy line 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bg5 Nbd7 7 f4 Qc7 8 Qf3 h6. In the European Club Cup it surprised the German Grandmaster Berelowitsch who allowed me easy play by dropping his bishop back. Critical, as subscribers should really know by now, is 9 Bxf6 Nxf6 10 f5:

At this point Black is advised to follow Ftacnik's recommendation, 10...Qc5, as we've seen before. A while back I did wonder whether 10...g5?! might also be playable, but this runs into 11 fxg6 fxg6 12 Nd5!, with annoying light-squared pressure, as pointed out by Ftacnik. Thankfully my opponent hadn't realised this and I quickly obtained a pleasant pull in Palliser - Eggleston.

That's all for September - developments from Slovenia and maybe Bilbao will follow shortly! Richard

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