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Lots of new ideas this month from the European Team Championship and a strong tournament in Uzbekistan, as all Anti-Sicilians are being re-evaluated with strong engines.

Download PGN of December ’21 Anti-Sicilian games

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c3-Sicilian: 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Bc4 [B22]

This rare move order has lots of transpositional possibilities but can also lead to fresh positions.

Grandelius, N - Saric, I, after 4...Nb6 5.Bb3 c4 6.Bc2 d6 7.exd6 Qxd6 8.Na3 Nc6 White transposed back to normal lines with 9.Nf3, gaining a winning advantage after some dubious opening play by Black.

Anti-Sveshnikov: 3...e5 4.Bc4 Be7 5.d3 d6 6.Nd2 Nf6 7.Nf1 [B30]

In Abasov, N - Perunovic, M Black went for the direct 7...0-0:

After 8.Ne3 Nd7 9.0-0 Nb6 10.Ned5 the players reached a typical complex position where White has slightly easier play.

Moscow Variation: 3...Nd7 4.d4 Ngf6 5.0-0 cxd4 6.Qxd4 a6 7.Be2 e5 [B51]

In Navara, D - Gretarsson, H, after 4.d4 Ngf6 5.0-0 cxd4 6.Qxd4 a6 7.Be2 e5 8.Qe3 Nc5 9.Nc3 the players reached a position which Navara had recently defended with Black:

Gretarsson went for a different approach and got a reasonable position before allowing a fatal exchange sacrifice.

Moscow: 3...Nd7 4.0-0 a6 5.Bxd7+ Bxd7 6.c4 [B51]

Gretarsson’s previous Black game went 4.0-0 a6 5.Bxd7+ Bxd7 6.c4:

See Grandelius, N - Gretarsson, H, where he secured excellent counterplay.

Moscow: 3...Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bg7 9.f3 0-0 10.Be3 Nc6 11.0-0 a6 12.Qd3 [B51]

After 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bg7 9.f3 0-0 10.Be3 Nc6 11.0-0 a6 12.Qd3:

we look at Giri’s preferred 12...Rab8 in Esipenko, A - Guseinov, G.

Meanwhile, in Matlakov, M - Sjugirov, S, a new idea was shown after 12...Ne5 13.Qe2 Rfc8 14.b3 b5 15.Nd5, namely 15...Rcb8!:

I haven’t found anything for White here, and the game was quickly drawn.

Moscow: 3...Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.0-0 Nf6 6.Qe2 e6 7.c3 Nc6 8.d4 d5 [B52]

The previous day Sjugirov had shown a tricky idea on the white side after 5.0-0 Nf6 6.Qe2 e6 7.c3 Nc6 8.d4 d5, namely 9.Ne5!?:

Everyone goes wrong here with 9...Qc8?!, see Sjugirov, S - Vokhidov, S for details.

Zaitsev Variation 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Qd3 Nf6 7.c4 [B53]

In Anton Guijarro, D - Dastan, B, after 6.Qd3 Nf6 7.c4 g6 8.Nc3 Bg7 9.0-0 0-0 10.h3 Rc8 11.Be3 a6 12.Bxc6 Bxc6 13.Nd4 Nd7 14.Rac1:

Black reached a difficult position we’ve seen before. He went for a horrible rook endgame which Anton converted with impeccable technique.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Till next time, Sam

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