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Anti-Sicilians are featuring rather heavily in top level encounters of late, including 3 of the most interesting games played in the London Classic. In fact, from the 7 games covered this month, only one player was rated under 2700, while Magnus Carlsen features with both White and Black.

Download PGN of December '12 Anti-Sicilian games

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c3-Sicilian 2...Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 [B22]

Nakamura - Carlsen was a standard c3-Sicilian:

where the character of the position was radically altered later on by a promising piece sacrifice from Carlsen. White certainly needs improvements earlier.

Closed Sicilian [B30]

Ponomariov - Dominguez features a novelty which was suggested in this column previously, 13...b4!?:

though it meets with an inglorious fate. However, Black was absolutely fine out of the opening.

Anti-Sveshnikov 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 [B30]

Karjakin - Gelfand rapidly obtained the contours of an Anti-Marshall:

Gelfand seemed to have no difficulties in rapidly bringing the position to safety.

Rossolimo 3...e6 4.0-0 [B30]

Caruana - Gelfand was the first of two games Gelfand played in the FIDE Grand Prix where Black obtains doubled d-pawns:

While Black must have an improvement (as indicated by Gelfand trying the same line against Ponomariov later in the tournament), in the game he rapidly obtained a poor position through neglecting the development of his kingside.

2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 [B40]

Mickey claimed to have been inspired in his preparation for Adams - Polgar by Gawain's book on the Sicilian where various Qe2 systems are advocated:

He rapidly reached a comfortable position where Polgar played passively and her game went rapidly downhill.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 [B51]

Caruana - Topalov featured a slow treatment of this line with an early Bd3:

Play rapidly reached a favourable Modern Benoni for White where Caruana missed a number of knockouts.

Zaitsev Variation 4.Qxd4, 5.h3!? [B53]

Carlsen - Jones showcased a rare but promising idea with 5.h3!?:

White simply wants a Maroczy Bind without allowing ...Bg4. Gawain reacted with an interesting queen sacrifice but later went astray.

Happy New Year! Sam

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