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A wide range of lines are covered this month, including two of my own wins and the 2/2 in the 4.Qxd4 line which helped Hou Yifan make history in Gibraltar.

Download PGN of February '12 Anti-Sicilian games

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

Collins - Suarez Real deals with an old suggestion of Joe Gallagher in the c3-Sicilian based on ...e6 and ...b6:

White's approach is easy to play and, in my view, leaves him with the better chances.

Tiviakov - Lahno discusses the variation 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bc4 Nb6 6.Bb3 d5 7.exd6 Qxd6 8.0-0 c4:

This is a favourite of French super-GM Vachier Lagrave and well worth a look with both colours.

Grand Prix Attack [B23]

Collins - Courtney features the tricky 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4 g6 4.d4!?:

Black grabbed material and quickly ended up in a lost position. However, as John Shaw has previously analysed, there are ways for Black to reach a fully playable game.

Karjakin - Topalov is a mouth-watering encounter, pitting the best-prepared 1.e4 player in the world against a man out to defend his legendary joint analysis with Cheparinov! The game followed Gashimov - Cheparinov (annotated in a previous update) for some time:

, featured several mistakes from both sides, and ended up in a torturous rook + rook's pawn vs. bishop + rook's pawn position which Karjakin eventually ground out.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 [B51]

In Ponomariov - Volokitin, Volokitin repeated a line with which he has previously been successful, featuring 5...e5:

Ponomariov didn't manage to show anything for White, and even with my suggested improvements I think Black is completely fine.

Zaitsev Variation 4 Qxd4 [B53]

Wins with both colours in this sharp line were crucial to Hou Yifan's remarkable success in Gibraltar.

Hou Yifan - Schiendorfer features the traditional Scheveningen-based response for Black:

In Muzychuk - Hou Yifan, the Women's World Champion went for a much more logical (in my view) approach based on a quick ...e5 in Najdorf style:

after which I think White has precisely nothing.

Till next time, Sam

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