Morra Gambit [B21]
Coincidentally, a month after showing some games in the Morra gambit, I came across a game that featured a Grandmaster with the Black pieces. After 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 e6 5.Nf3 a6 6.Bc4 b5 7.Bb3 Bb7 White played 8.Qe2:
instead of last month's 8.0-0 b4 9.Nd5!?. In Zelic - Bartel White went for a similar sacrifice, but it did not prove to be so effective.
2.c3 Sicilian [B22]
In the line 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.cxd4 d6 7.Bc4 Nb6 8.Bb5 dxe5 9.Nxe5 Bd7, the consensus seems to be that White's best try to get anything at all is 10.Nxd7. After the further 10...Qxd7 11.Nc3 e6 12.0-0 Rd8 13.a4!:
Threatens the further advance of the a-pawn, when Black must take some care. See Stevic - Pavlidis.
Modern Grand Prix [B23]
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.Bb5+ is an uncommon move order. Hou Yifan plays the ambitious 3...Nd7!? and then 4.d3 g6 5.f4 Bg7 6.Nf3 Nh6!?:
Zhou Guijue - Hou Yifan takes a look at how Black should handle this slightly unconventional formation.
Closed Sicilian [B25]
It is no secret that I am an advocate of the Botvinnik set up after 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.Be3 e5. After 6.f4 Black can also play 6...e5:
, although he must be very aware of f4-f5 sacrifices, for example 7.Nh3 Nge7 8.0-0 0-0? 9.f5! is known to be very dangerous. In Bachin - Kokarev we see how easy Black's play is if White does not aim for this pawn advance.
Rossolimo Variation [B30]
The line 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Qb6 has always looked very risky to me. After 4.Nc3 e6 5.0-0 (5.Bxc6 rather surprisingly, may be even more accurate) 5...a6 (perhaps 5...Nge7!?) 6.Bxc6 Qxc6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Qc7 9.Re1 d6:
I think 10.Bf4!, as played in Berkes - Hera, will shut the door on this particular line.
2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 [B50]
I have always believed that 4...Bg4 was a very effective equalizer here:
In Reverby - Vigorito I take a look at this easy-to-play line for Black.
Moscow Variation [B52]
A new trap is created in the game Bojkov - Li Chao following 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 g6 7.0-0 Bg7 8.d4 cxd4 9.Nxd4 0-0 10.Be3 Nc6 11.f3 a6!?:
This move was played by Kasparov but it has not really been featured on ChessPub before, even though the idea is normal. After the casual 12.a4 e6 13.Qd2? suddenly 13...Na5! puts White in major difficulties!
In the line 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bg7 9.h3 Black still seems fine, but in Fressinet - Berbatov Black's early attempt to force things lands him a slightly worse ending that he is unable to hold.
Until next month, David