Closed Sicilian [B25]
Perhaps the most instructive Anti-Sicilian last month was Mcshane - Volokitin, which saw a fairly classic battle in the Closed Sicilian:
This game reminded me of another classic, perhaps THE classic game in the Closed Sicilian: Spassky - Geller, which sheds some light on possible improvements for both sides.
Rossolimo [B30 & B51/52]
I have given brief notes to several other games that caught my eye this month.
c3 Sicilian [B22]
There is just one 2.c3 Sicilian this month, but it is worth thinking about, particularly if you play 2.c3 as White, because the line with 2...d5 and 4...g6 is becoming more popular for Black:
See Spence - Shaw.
Wing Gambit [B20]
Shirazi - Spraggett features a 2.b4!? Gambit declined:
this is included mainly as a reminder that you don't always have to punish your opponent's for their extravagance in the opening. Sometimes it is enough to get your pieces out and outplay them later on.
Jose Blades wanted to know about a reliable antidote to 2.b3, and sent an annotated game. I chose not to show it here, becuase White quickly played d4 and the position resembled an open sicilian. Nonetheless, many thanks for the game and the question. The best answer for the moment is to refer you back exactly one year, to the February 2005 update, where I consider 2.b3 in some depth. I haven't significantly changed my opinion since then, and would stress again that there is no cast-iron defence against any opening because there will always be wrinkles that will probe your knowledge and understanding. We may need to revist 2.b3 at a later stage, but in recent months, there have not been many revealing games, as far as I am aware.
Helgi Dam Ziska wanted to know more about the move order 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nge2!?:
so I have included one of my own games from a few years ago to shed some light on this, Rowson - Gallagher.
Tischbierek - Balzar is not exactly the same, but shows that lines with an early Ne2 give White extra options.
Likewise Vallejo - Nakamura is another illustration that 2.Ne2 is worth knowing about if you play the Najdorf as Black, and might also be worth trying for White occassionally if you like playing Open Siclians but want to pose your opponent some fresh problems. The February 2005 update considers 2.Ne2 in more detail.
IM David Vigorito (what a great name!- 'Vigorito'; now we know how David managed to slay Goliath- because he was 'Vigorito') sent some thoughts and a few annotated games that speak to my coverage of 2...d6/Nc6 3.Bb5 Nc6/d6:
They are lightly annotated, but instructive examples, so I have included them more or less as I received them. For a long time, it was thought that, particularly after 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Black had to choose between the drawish 3...Bd7 and the more combative but slightly suspect 3...Nd7, but now I feel that 3...Nc6 is a fully playable alternative, which is probably more reliable than 3...Nd7 but gives more winning chances than 3...Bd7.
Khachyian - Vigorito
Yermolinksy - Vigorito
Ivanov - Vigorito
That's all for now. Keep the letters coming, and see you next month. Jonathan