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2.c3 Sicilian 2...Nf6 mainline ...d6 [B22]
We kick things off with a golden oldie, one of the main lines of the 2.c3 Sicilian:
Howell - Ansell follows a variation that is considered theoretically harmless, though Howell as well as another expert, Sergei Tiviakov, seem to continually get great practical results with White. It's true that Black can't realistically expect more than a draw in this line, but I'm pretty sure David was always angling for more - and he got it in explosive fashion!
Grand Prix Attack 5.Bb5+ [B23]
It's rare to see the Grand Prix at the very top level, and even rarer to see it used for a victory against a top-ten player! But Nisipeanu - So is just that.
The dangerous Romanian/German GM gave us something different by swapping off the bishops, but he soon showed us that White's attack still contains its fair share of venom.
Anti-Sveshnikov 6.0-0 Nf6 7.Ng5 [B30]
Perhaps the most exciting theoretical development this month comes in a well-known anti-Sveshnikov variation, courtesy of the exciting Wei Yi:
Ok, the diagram may not seem that exciting, but the idea behind White's last move certainly is. White plans to sacrifice an exchange in order to seize complete control of the light squares and accelerate the kingside attack. I really like this idea that may rehabilitate this line for White, and I'm looking forward to seeing how future games develop, see Wei - Yu.
Rossolimo Variation 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 [B30]
A strange inclusion this month is the low-rated clash Dalo - Dezelin, which caught my attention largely due to a ratings bug in my database! Still, I'm glad I came across it because it's a very nice game.
Black's fifth move is rare and a little suspicious, but it doesn't look fatal. However, after White's accurate follow-up involving a whole rook sacrifice (!), we can definitely conclude that this is one sub-variation Black would do well to avoid.
Rossolimo Variation 3...e6 4.0-0 Nge7 [B30]
A classic fight between two old-school heavyweights was Sveshnikov - Karpov from their mini-match in Riga. This game is noteworthy for two reasons. First, it's yet another example of White successfully employing the popular Caruana variation (or, at least, he 'brought it back') with 5.d4. I don't think Karpov's new idea of 6...Nxd4 is going to catch on:
But secondly, it's a rare occasion to see Karpov get "Karpoved", that is, positionally crushed!
Rossolimo Variation 3...g6 4.c3 Bg7 [B31]
Smirin - Nikhilesh is interesting in that I haven't looked much at 4...Bg7 for Black, despite it being Black's most popular reply to 4.c3:
As I say in the annotations, I would definitely switch to 4.c3 if my opponents always replied this way; I really think it gives White excellent chances of an advantage. Smirin is a bit of an expert in this system and he shows just how White should proceed. He gets a nice edge after ten moves, but the game comes to an unexpected end soon afterwards thanks to a very cute tactic.
Rossolimo/Moscow Hybrid 9...e6 [B51]
One of the more exciting games for me to come across this month was Fedorchuk - Rakotomahoro, which is a high-level example of my recommendation for our 'Black anti-3.Bb5 repertoire' that we discussed a few months back:
There, I championed 9...e6 as an effective solution to Black's problems in this variation. In this game, Black not only demonstrates the merits of this, but even quickly takes over the initiative with a deft ...h5/g5 assault. In fact, Black was already better just half a dozen moves later, although White was eventually able to swindle his lower-rated opponent to keep up White's amazing score this month.
Moscow Variation 3...Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 [B52]
Finally, also good for my ego was Jones - Britton, seeing as I have been trumpeting for a while now the attacking perks of playing the old line for White against 3...Bd7:
Our former ChessPub columnist demonstrates this to good effect by building up a winning position after only 16 moves with seemingly no effort at all. If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times: remember this line!
Til next month, Dave
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