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Hi all,
This month, many of our games are connected by the theme of simplicity: simple opening plans, simple advantage transformations, and simple tactics. Chess can be an easy game sometimes!

Download PGN of April '15 Anti-Sicilian games

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The Big Clamp [B21]

In Rendle - So, fellow columnist Tom Rendle epitomizes this with perhaps the most primitive of Anti-Sicilians: The Big Clamp:

This is a very good 'Bunratty weekender' opening choice against the top seed, and indeed Tom quickly achieves an advantage with his straightforward play. However, eventually the colossal rating difference proves too much.

2.c3 Sicilian 2...d5 Main line 6 Bd3 [B22]

One of the more popular weapons for Black against the 2.c3 Sicilian is the ...Qxd5/...e6 variation where Black delays capturing on d4:

This can prove annoying to the white player whose heart is set on an IQP. Mamedov shows us a simple antidote in Mamedov - Sadzikowski, capturing on c5 and using his superior development to gradually apply the pressure. It shouldn't be enough for an objective advantage, but White's simple play is certainly a good practical choice.

2.c3 Sicilian 2...Nf6, delayed d4 [B22]

Here's another simple rule for the 2.c3 Sicilian: Generally, White can respond to a black kingside fianchetto with Na3. Don't ask me why, but this seems to hold in almost all lines! We see an example of this in Boruchovsky - Altshul, although here White eschews this option for a far more brutish attempt at the black king.

This pays off quickly, thanks to the simplest of tactics.

Anti-Sveshnikov/Rossolimo 3...g6 with Bxc6 dxc6 [B31]

I have two Karjakin games for you this month, and both contain instructive demonstrations of how to exchange pieces to transform an advantage. Karjakin knows just how and when to do this very well, so it's worth paying attention.

In Karjakin - Khalifman, the game quickly transposes into the 3...g6 variation of the Rossolimo:

From a theoretical perspective, I like Karjakin's approach, calmly pressing forward with White's typical queenside play. It feels like Black was never really in the game, despite being one of the world's leading theoreticians. In the notes, I'll show you that Black could have put up much more resistance, but I still have a certain fondness for the simplicity of Karjakin's handling of the variation.

Anti-Sveshnikov 6.0-0 a6 [B30]

Karjakin - Krasenkow is a more mainstream anti-Sveshnikov:

Karjakin used to play this a couple of years ago, but I was surprised to see him go down this track these days. In the game, Krasenkow tries to shake up White's structural superiority with an ill-prepared queenside operation; pay special attention to the clever transformation of advantages that Karjakin initiatives on move 11.

Rossolimo Variation 3...e6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.b3 f6!? [B30]

Naiditsch - Krasenkow sees the German number one play in the simplest manner against 3...e6. He just takes the knight immediately and goes for the b3/Bb2 setup, while Krasenkow tries to blunt this with the popular 5...f6:

A lot of strong players have gone for this approach, but I think it gives White easy play and excellent chances for an advantage. In the game, Naiditsch quickly builds up a sizable advantage, but then lets his opponent off the hook when he misses a tactic that is really not very simple at all!

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.0-0 a6 5.Bd3 [B51]

Smeets - Van Wely is the densest of the games this month. The topical Bb5-d3 retreat remains popular, but Van Wely knows his stuff and plays by far Black's best move: 6...b5!:

I don't believe that White can get an objective advantage after this move, although in the notes I point out that 9.d3! may be the best chance. This game is a real cracker, with great guts and tactics by both players - enjoy!

Moscow/Rossolimo Hybrid 5.Re1 a6 [B51]

Finally, Bartel - Nepomniachtchi features my proposed black repertoire from a few columns back. However, I really can't recommend (or understand!) 5...a6:

I have hypothesized in the notes about what Nepo's idea may have been, but it certainly didn't work out in this game. What an amazing performance at the European Champs by Bartel, aptly demonstrated by this demolition!

Till next time, Dave

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