The Big Clamp [B21]
After 1.e4 c5 2.d3 Nc6 White faces a move order issue - to play 3.g3 or 3.f4? The real decision depends on how White would like to meet 3...d5. In Welling-I.Sokolov White goes for 3.f4 d5 4.Be2 Nf6 5.e5 Nd7 6.c3 e6 7.Nf3 with something like a French Defence:
This just gives an equal, but playable position. White quickly goes astray trying to win material and runs into a strong exchange sacrifice.
2 c3 [B22]
In the main line 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bc4 Nb6 7.Bb3 d5 8.exd6 Qxd6 9.0-0 Be6 White's sharpest try is the gambit 10.Na3, but 10.Bxe6 is also seen frequently. After 10...Qxe6 11.Nxd4 Nxd4 12.Qxd4 Rd8:
White tries the rare 13.Qe3 (instead of the sharper 13.Qh4, which we'll also cover soon) in Shibut - Robson. This is solid enough, but Robson shows that Black can still try to win these rather dry endgames.
Closed Sicilian [B25]
In the relatively harmless line 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.Nge2 I noticed the game Fernandez Romero-Spraggett because the play looked rather familiar. After 6...e5! Spraggett follows the groundwork laid by Botvinnik in his own system:
and soon reaches a position that I think is easier to play for Black.
A popular plan for Black in the Closed Sicilian is an early ...Rb8. I think Black has to be careful with this idea because he can easily fall behind in development. After 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 g6 5.d3 Bg7 6.f4 Rb8:
We look at a rare high-level game in the Closed in Navara - Sasikiran. Black does not take White's opening seriously enough and he is miniatured in fine fashion.
Rossolimo 3...e6 [B30]
The move order 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 is a Rossolimo that looks like a Four Knights English ... reversed. After 4...g6, Chinese prodigy Hou Yifan plays the critical 5.e5!? against a 2700 player:
See the crushing Hou Yifan-Vallejo Pons.
Bacrot effectively meets the line 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.0-0 Bg7 5.c3 Nf6 6.Re1 with 6...0-0 7.e5 Nd5 8.d4 cxd4 9.cxd4 d6 10.Nc3 Nxc3 11.bxc3 a6!? The French number one makes it look easy in Glek - Bacrot.
Moscow 3.Bb5+ [B51-2]
We continue looking at the ambitious 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7. Usually Black is looking to slow down the play so that he can gradually develop and only then open the position for the two bishops that he often gets. After 4.d4, instead of the standard 4...Nf6, 4...cxd4 is becoming more popular. In Hammer - Carlhammar we again look at the line 5.Qxd4 a6 6.Bxd7+ Bxd7 which is like an open Sicilian. 7.0-0 Rc8!? (4.0-0 a6 5.Bxd7+ Bxd7 6.d4 cxd4 7.Qxd4 Rc8 is another move order):
While Quillan - Berg sees White avoiding kingside castling with a similar 7.Bg5!? Rc8.
Best wishes, David