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Welcome to the April Update!

Firstly, my apologies for presenting it so late! This is hopefully a one-off and was caused by a mixture of chess-playing commitments and moving flat. By way of compensation I have done a little more work than normal, including clearing the backlog of readers letters.

Download PGN of April '05 Anti-Sicilian games

Subscribers Queries:

1) «Dear Jonathan,
I'm a subscriber of the Anti Sicilian section.
I would appreciate a coverage of Morra Gambit with special attention to Finegold variation which is not considered in the Morra Gambit e-book.
I also attach a game of mine which I played with this variation as Black: the system seemed to work well though Black lost for a blunder in the middlegame. But what about an early e5 by White?
Best Regards
Francesco Costa»

My thoughts on this are given in the game notes of Carretoni,A-Costa F.

2) «Hi Jonathan,
I was studying the c3 game in your February update and I must admit that this variation is rather annoying for white, but maybe white could try the following:
1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Be3 cxd4 7.cxd4 Bb4 8.Nbd2 !? 0-0 9.Bd3 b6 10.Qe2 preventing 10...Ba6 10...Bb7 11.0-0 Nc6 and white seems to have a good position as the knight will be able to join the party via c4 and e5.
What do you think of this?
Jonathan Faydi»

My first impression is that it's not bad and worth a try, but probably not a serious problem for Black. As you probably know, you don't usually want your knight on d2 in an IQP position, because it is crucial to compete for the d5 square and for that the knight is needed on c3.

While the line you give seems plausible, it is not forced, and once White plays Nbd2, Black no longer has to play for ...b6 and ...Ba6 and can try a different approach. For instance he can even consider taking on d2 in some cases and won't miss having his dark squared bishop if he is otherwise in control of the position.

Also, I am not sure if I agree with your assessment of the position after 11...Nc6. White does have a comfortable position, but Black is now fully developed and also has very little to complain about.

3) «Dear Jonathan,
What do you suggest for black after e4 c5, c3 Nf6, e5 Nd5, d4 cxd4, Qxd4 e6, Bc4? Do you think 6...Nc6, Qe4 Nde7, Nf3 d5!? is a good choice (with the Idea of exd6 Nf5)? I did not find any analysis on this line in either Rozentalis or Rogozenko's books.
Thank you very much in advance and best wishes again.

The line you give is creative, but it looks a little convoluted and White might have a more accurate move than 8 Nf3. It seems that this line is considered harmless because after 1 e4 c5 2 c3 Nf6 3 e5 Nd5 4 d4 cd 5 Qxd4 e6 6 Bc4 Nc6 7 Qe4 Black can simply play 7...d6:

and now taking on d5 twice leads to a better ending for Black after he recaptures on e5(two bishops) so white plays 7 ed but then Black can just play 7...Nf6 and follow up with 8...Bxd6 when he has no problems at all.

4) «Dear Jonathan,
First of all Happy birthday afterwards! As far as I remember from one of Paul Motwani's book, your birthday is close to mine (17th April) except that I was born in 1975 - I hope I am right and I wish you health and happiness!
Can you suggest a good way for black to play for a win after e4 c5, c3 Nf6, e5 Nd5, d4 cxd4, Qxd4 e6, Nf3 Nc6, Qe4? Rotstein's 7...b6 is surely interesting, but I suppose the best way to play for a win as black may involve a combination of the moves f7-f5, Qc7 and perhaps even b7-b5 followed by a7-a5 and Ba6, at least for me.
The ebook on both lines is somewhat short and perhaps a little one-sided too. But I know that you have just recently taken over the Anti-Sicilians. Which setup would you play as Black? In my eyes, lines involving d6, dxe5, Nxe5 followed by Qc7 as black seem to lead to a slight edge for white because of the queenside-majority the and safer king.
It would be nice if you had the time to answer in the near future. Thank you very much in advance! I am looking forward for your upcoming book for Zebras very much! I have already pre-ordered it as I was deeply impressed by both "The seven deadly sins" as well as "Understanding the Grünfeld"!
Take care and be well.
Best wishes from Germany

Hi Chris, I guess you might be "Christian" who asked the third question, but in any case thanks (to you both?!) for your kind words.

The Qxd4 line is tricky but Black has more than one way to get a decent (and sometimes better) position against it:

I have given two different ways that Black can try to get a good position- one very solid and one more combative: Cherniaev - Mcshane, and Motwani - Shaw.

5) «Hi, I'm a new subscriber (ChessSquire). I'm rated USCF 1798.
I play e4 as white, and have been playing 2.c3 against the Sicilian, though I'm not happy with how it turns out against some lines, particularly 2...Nf6.
I've noticed Super GMs playing both the Rossolimo, and some new line (as the 2 Kasparov games in your current update) with:
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Bc4
Many years ago, I used to play 2. f4, and I've also dabbled with the Closed Sicilian (I even have your old book: "Winning With the Closed Sicilian"), though I wasn't happy with my results with those.
Of the above lines (particularly 2.c3, Rossolimo, or the new Super GM line), what do you recommend for White? If the new line, are there variations that address other Black moves (e.g. 2...e6, 2...d6, etc.)?
I'm planning to play in a major tournament June 9-12 (in Las Vegas), and I expect to be playing higher-rated players than myself, so I'd like something solid (slight plus or even equality is okay, but nothing dodgy), but not too difficult to learn.
Would you be willing to send me some basic lines (a repertoire against the Sicilian) in PGN or ChessBase format to help me find my way through the maze of variations? I can fill in the details from your site.
I'm sure others would be interested in this as well, if you're willing to post it.
Thank you,
Mark Smiley

Hi Mark,

I'm afraid I can't give a whole anti-Sicilian repertoire (that would be above and beyond the call of duty!) but I think there is plenty of material on the site for you to make one for yourself. If you are looking for something reliable I would recommend the c3 Sicilian, and if you don't want anything dodgy then stay away from the Morra!

Good luck in Las Vegas.

6) «Dear Jonathan,
In your discussion of the Suba move order you mention the Hungarian Qxd4 lines and the 5 f3!? line, each of which you suggest can
make trouble for Black if he isn't prepared. I know a bit about the
former but the latter nameless (?) variation seems to often fall through the
cracks both in repertoire books and on the website. Its not exactly a normal Open Sicilian but neither is it an anti-Sicilian in the same sense that the 2 c3 systems are. Regardless of whether this is technically one for you or one for Kosten, I'd love to see what you think is best for Black against 5 f3!? and moreover the current state of theory on this line.
Mike Ridge.»

Hi Mike,

I actually think 5 f3!? is quite a decent move and am not too sure why it isn't played more often:

5...e5!? used to be considered the answer, but recent games, especially Nisipeanu - Azmaiparashvilli, cast doubt on this.

Please see the annotated game McShane - Grischuk. This is probably Black's most reliable antidote, but some questions remain unanswered and it doesn't completely kill the f3 system by any means.

Important Anti-Sicilian games from April:

Rossolimo [B31]

In The Rossolimo, Bologan - Lautier offers a fresh approach for White players who are fond of taking on c6 as early as possible, and it seems to be good news for those who feared White was running out of steam against solid Black players who knew where to put their pieces.

Grand Prix Attack [B21]

In the Grand Prix Attack, I have selected two games in the Gambit line 2 f4 d5!? 3 ed Nf6:

I believe this is probably fine for Black, although it needs some more tests. See Wheeler - Emms and Hinks Edwards-Hennigan.

c3 Sicilian [B22]

In Tiviakov - Kualots I have also annotated an important game from the c3 Sicilian in a line that is currently looking slightly problematic for Black, 8 Na3!?:

I also looked at Cherniaev - Goergiev, but mainly because I found it quite instructive from a strategic point of view.

There were some other interesting anti-Sicilian games this month, but these were the ones that seemed most important.

Normally I would say, 'until next month', but this time it is more like: 'See you in about three weeks!'

I welcome e-mails from subscribers, please write to You can also try the Anti-Sicilians Forum.