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This month we look at some games from the Foxwoods Open, the Russian Team Championship, and specifically the annoying 4 Qxd4 Sicilian.

Download PGN of April '09 Anti-Sicilian games

2 c3 [B22]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.d4 cxd4 6.cxd4 d6 7.Bc4 e6 8.0-0 is a common line, but 8...Qc7!? is quite unusual:

Ehlvest can be a very theoretical player, but he is often happy to get off the beaten track, especially with Black. See Ivanov,AV- Ehlvest.

Closed Sicilian [B26]

In the Main Line 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.d3 d6 6.Be3 Palliser recently recommended 6...Nf6. After 7.h3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nd4 Black prevents Bh6 and has a comfortable position:

In Melekhina - Perelshteyn Black quickly seizes the initiative in instructive fashion.

Moscow Variation 3...Bd7 [B52]

In the Main Line 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.0-0 6.Qe2 Nc6 7.e6 8.d4 cxd4 9.cxd4 d5 10.e5 Black's most natural continuation is 10...Ne4 (10...Ng8 is also possible, and perhaps more ambitious). In Belov - Wang Hao Black plays a tempting exchange sacrifice but comes undone after White's exact play. This variation still leads to equal play, but both sides can play for a win.

3...Nd7 [B51]

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.d4, the move 4...cxd4 remains fashionable. 5.Qxd4 Ngf6 6.0-0 (after 6.Nc3 e5 7.Qd3 h6 we reach the traditional main line that is usually reached from the 4...Nf6 move order) 6...g6!? 7.e5 dxe5 8.Nxe5 Bg7 9.Rd1 0-0 10.Nxd7 Nxd7 11.Qa4 Nc5!:

This queen sacrifice seems good enough to equalize, although White can force a draw if he chooses. Playing for more is risky. See Antal - Robson.

Hybrid Variation 3...Nc6 [B51]

In the Hybrid variation 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.0-0 Bd7 5.Re1 Nf6 6.c3 a6 7.Bf1 Bg4 8.d3 e6 9.Nbd2 Be7 10.h3 Bh5 11.g4 Bg6 12.Nh4 Nd7 13.Ng2 Black almost always plays 13...0-0 14.f4 h6 (or 13...h6 14.f4 0-0) but in Anand - Carlsen Black uncorks 13...h5!?:

And wins quickly! Is this just a rapid special or a serious idea?

We have recently seen Tiviakov on the White side of the line 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.0-0 Bd7 5.c3 a6 6.Ba4 Nf6 7.Re1 b5 8.Bc2 e5 9.h3 g6 10.d4 Bg7 11.dxc5 dxc5 12.a4. Black never does well here, and when Tiviakov tried the Black side in Caruana - Tiviakov he played 12...Rb8!? Although he did not lose a pawn (like Black usually does in this line) he still came under pressure and succumbed to his young opponent.

4 Qxd4 Sicilian [B53]

Fans of the Hybrid should be ready for the Main Line of the 4.Qxd4 Sicilian. With the normal move order 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Black has options such as 4...a6, but in the move order 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Qxd4 Black has no such options and must head into the main lines. After 5...Bd7 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Bg5 e6 9.0-0-0 Be7:

Black should be okay, but White's position can be easy to play and Black had better know what he is doing. See White's main tries 10.Rhe1 in Souleidis - Kalinitschew and 10.Qd3 in Mamedov - Perunovi.

Until next month, David

Please post you queries on the Anti-Sicilians Forum, or subscribers can write to me at if you have any questions or queries.