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I guess that this Update will definitely suit fans of uncompromising attacking chess as practically all the games were decided by direct attacks! Also, this time we have several interesting novelties in some very long theoretical lines (such as the 4 knights). Enjoy!

Download PGN of September ’22 Open Sicilian games

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The Four Knights 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Nd5 8.Ne4 Qc7 9.f4 Qb6 [B45]

We start with Nguyen, T - Ivic, V, where both players were equipped by deep theoretical knowledge. In the position after 15...Bb7:

White played the new move (for our PGN Archive) 16.Rd1 and it looks like both players followed their home preparation till the endgame that was reached around move 30! Now Velimir came up with the decent novelty 30...Bxc6! that seems to offer Black equality. Indeed, the balance was kept almost till the end of the game, when the dramatic 54...Kd7?? eventually spoiled all the previous effort.

Overall, this line looks acceptable for the second player, but very deep knowledge (and memory!) is required.

Taimanov 6.Be3 a6 7.Qf3 Nf6 8.0-0-0 Ne5 [B48]

Shirov, A - Klekowski, M, saw Alexei opt for the very aggressive 12.h3:

Perhaps Maciej wasn't familiar with this idea, as he wrongly accepted the sacrifice with 13...exd5? and quickly got into trouble. As usual, GM Shirov was very convincing in his further attacking play.

Undoubtedly, 13...Nxd5! should be played, when the arising positions seem acceptable for the second player.

Taimanov 6.Be3 a6 7.g4 b5 [B48]

In the next game, Ponomariov, R - Leenhouts, K, Ruslan followed my recommendation with 12.Ng3!? (12.Nf4 was played in Karjakin-Rapport, see the Archives), and soon the critical position was reached:

At this point Koen played the risky novelty 14...Qa5, and after 15.Bc4?! d5 16.Bb3 the careless 16...Bc5? quickly allowed White to develop a crushing attack.

Despite such a convincing victory, 15.Bg2! was much stronger and seems to refute Koen's innovation. In general, 12.Ng3!? looks quite promising for White in this line.

Classical Richter-Rauzer 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Bd7 9.f4 Be7 10.Nf3 b5 [B69]

An interesting theoretical discussion in one of the most fashionable Classical lines took place in Zamengo, F - Cheng, B, where after 13...h5:

Fulvio played the relatively rare 14.Ned4. This idea isn't so impressive bearing in mind the knight's desertion of of d5. Still, an approximate balance was kept till move 21, when 21.Qd3? and 22.Bxb5? led to quick collapse.

Overall, this was a model game that well illustrates Black's dynamic resources in this line.

Najdorf 6.Bd3 e5 7.Nde2 Be7 8.0-0 Nc6 [B90]

I am glad to see that in Cheparinov, I - Murzin, V Ivan followed another recommendation that I provided in the notes to Sek-Wojtaszek. Indeed, in the position after 10...Nb4:

11.Be4! seems to offer White decent attacking prospects, and Ivan managed to fully seize the initiative with 13.f4! , but then the impulsive 17.Nxf6?! could have allowed Volodar to solve his problems. Luckily for GM Cheparinov, his young opponent soon returned the favor and was convincingly outplayed.

In general, 8...Nc6 is hardly the most comfortable way to solve the problems in this line.

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

Another exciting theoretical discussion was seen in Dominguez, L - Vachier Lagrave, M. In the well-known position after 14...Be7:

Lenier played 15.a3!?, which is practically unexplored. Still, Maxime was well-prepared as one would expected and came up with a decent novelty 16...0-0-0 that seems to offer Black acceptable play. However, a bit later MVL went astray with 21...Rc8? which allowed White to regain the pawn and retain all his positional merits. Luckily for Maxime, at some point GM Dominguez wrongly opted for an exchange sacrifice, and eventually the game ended in a draw to White's satisfaction.

Najdorf 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Bc4 Qb6 8.Bb3 e6 9.Bxf6 [B94]

In the next game, Aghamaliyev, C - Yilmaz, M, Cemil chose the relatively rare line with 9.Bxf6, that was recently analyzed in Ter Sahakyan - Najer. Mustafa deviated from that with 14...g6:

and it looks like the straightforward 15.fxe6 and 16.Rhf1 didn't bother him - the invasion of White's rook was neutralized by Black's strong dark-squared bishop.

White's attempt to increase the pressure on the e6-pawn with 18.Re7?! quickly backfired, and eventually White lost the exchange and was consistently outplayed. Still, 9.Bxf6 is a viable option. For instance, 15.Qg5!? might concern Black in the future.

Najdorf 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Nbd7 8.Qe2 Qc7 9.0-0-0 b5 [B96]

We end with Ter Sahakyan,S - Muradli, M, where the players entered a rare theoretical position after 11.f5!?:

Alas, Mahammad failed to handle this position correctly, as after 11...e5?!, and especially 14...Rxb4? White quickly obtained a strategically winning position due to his dominating knight.

However, I don't think 11.f5!? is a refutation of 10...Rb8 - the intermediate 11...b4 seems to offer Black sufficient play on the q-side. I expect to see more practical tests of 10...Rb8 soon.

See you next month, Michael

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