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This month I would like to pay particular attention to a couple of related systems that have previously not been covered very often on this site: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.f3, and 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.dxc5.
I say these lines are related because if White intends to play the former variation then after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 and now 4.Nc3 cxd4 would "move-order" him rather simply, so 4.dxc5 is the move to avoid transposing to a normal Open line.
I think these lines have received limited attention because they fall into the gap between two categories: playing 3.d4 and 4.Nxd4 does not feel like an anti-Sicilian and yet these lines are not "proper" Open variations.

Download PGN of April '11 Anti-Sicilian games

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5.f3 Variation [B55]

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.f3 White plans c2-c4 with a Maroczy set-up:

Black's critical independent reply is 5...e5 when Hess - Andriasian continued 6.Nb3 d5:

This may equalize but half a point is the limit of Black's ambitions.

In Z. Varga - Kraemer after 6.Nb3 Black preferred 6...Be7 when with 7.c4 White reaches his desired structure:

This line is one for general plans and ideas as both sides have too many options to allow long theory lines.

The Suba move-order - 4.dxc5 Variation [B53]

Following 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.dxc5 the games generally continue 4...Nxe4 5.cxd6:

In the diagram position Black's main choice is between 5...Nxd6 and the sharper 5...Nc6.

In the first two games Black went for 5...Nxd6 and the game continued 6.Nc3 Nc6 7.Bf4 g6:

Jovanovic - Kozul tested 8.Bxd6, while Stevic - Spoelman features 8.Nb5!?, which seems more promising.

In Nyzhnyk - Kuzubov Black chose 5...Nc6:

White replied 6.Na3!?, avoiding the greedy 6.dxe7 Qxd1+ 7.Kxd1 as then 7...Bxe7 may offer compensation and the wild 7...Nxf2+ is also not clearly bad.

2.c3 Variation 2...Nf6 [B22]

Every anti-Sicilian column needs a 2.c3 moment, but this month I limited myself to just one game. Luch - Bacrot started 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.g3 Nc6 5.Bg2 e6 6.Nf3:

This quiet line used to be a favourite of GM Rozentalis. Bacrot played 6...g6 which appears to be a novelty.

2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 System [B50]

Degraeve - Belezky is a recent example of 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4:

This line is not going to force an advantage for White, but that is not the point. White wishes to reach a tense middlegame with no theory. This is a tough line to cover in an opening theory column as the best advice to Black is to develop general middlegame understanding and be aware that familiarity with a Ruy Lopez might be relevant.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 [B51]

I also analysed a couple of games by English GMs at the recent European Individual Championships, both in the variation 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.d4 Ngf6 5.0-0:

In G. Jones - Shirazi Black tested 5...Nxe4 but Jones' reply may discourage anyone else from grabbing the pawn.

In McShane - Zherebukh Black chose the safer 5...cxd4 6.Qxd4 e5 7.Qd3 when ...h7-h6 is normal in such positions and in fact some analysts have claimed it is practically forced. Zherebukh disagrees and his games suggest Black can do without ...h7-h6.

Till next month, John Shaw

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