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Hi all,
In this update I look at the remaining theoretically significant Anti-Sicilians from Tata Steel.

Download PGN of February ’20 Anti-Sicilian games

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c3-Sicilian: 2...d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Na3 Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nb5 Qd7 9.Nbxd4 [B22]

In Van Foreest, J - Duda, J, the players repeated Van Foreest’s earlier win against Yu, until Duda varied with the main move, 9...Nd5:

By leaving the knight unchallenged on d5, Van Foreest drifted into an unpleasant position, before tactical alertness saved half a point.

c3-Sicilian: 2...Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nf3 d6 5.d4 cxd4 6.cxd4 Nc6 7.Bc4 dxe5 8.dxe5 Ndb4 [B22]

This line is one of Black’s most solid equalising attempts against the c3-Sicilian. In Mamedov, R - Abdusattorov, N, after 9.Qb3 e6 10.0-0 Na5 11.Bb5+ Bd7 12.Qa4 Bxb5 13.Qxb5+ Nac6 14.Nc3 a6 15.Qc4 Qd3 16.Qg4:

the players were heading for an endgame where it is well known that Black has no problems.

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

In Xiong, J - Giri, A, the players reached a main line position after 7.Nf1 Bg4 8.f3 (8.Qd2 is an alternative) 8...Be6 9.Ne3 0-0 10.0-0:

Despite engines’ preference for White, Black is solid in all the lines. In the game Giri seized the initiative, being denied a full point by Xiong’s calm and precise defence.

Rossolimo Variation: 3...g6 4.0-0 Bg7 5.c3 Nf6 6.Re1 0-0 [B31]

In Anand, V - Dubov, D, Dubov repeated his game against Caruana after 7.d4 d5 8.e5 Ne4 9.Be3 Qb6 10.Bxc6, then varied with 10...Qxc6:

White had nothing special from the opening and a draw was soon agreed.

Moscow Variation: 3...Nd7 4.0-0 a6 5.Bd3 Ngf6 6.Re1 e6 7.c3 b5 [B51]

We saw a couple of significant games in this line in Wijk.

In Kovalev, V - Duda, J, White demonstrated one of the extra possibilities of the move order 8.a4 c4 (8...Bb7! is best), namely 9.Bf1!?:

Duda defended convincingly but there’s no reason to allow this option (or 9.Be2!?, covered in the notes).

After 8.a4 Bb7 9.Bc2 c4 10.d4 cxd3 11.Qxd3 Nc5 12.Qe2 bxa4 we reach a position we’ve seen many times before. After Amin’s preference 13.Be3, in Smeets, J - Ganguly, S Black played 13...Bxe4 as used by Giri last year:

Positions are reached where White has full compensation for a pawn, but no more, and this line is very playable for Black.

Zaitsev Variation: 4...Nf6 5.Be2 [B53]

I’m unsure what to call this line, which I first saw in a couple of Harikrishna’s games. In Nihal, S - Grandelius, N, Black resisted the temptation to play a quick ...Nc6, instead reaching a very flexible setup after 5...g6 6.0-0 Bg7 7.Qe3 0-0 8.h3 Nbd7:

This seems like a very viable setup. After many adventures Grandelius held, showing textbook technique in defending with rook against rook and bishop.

Prins Variation: 5.f3 e5 6.Nb3 d5 [B54]

Another line in search of a name. In Smeets, J - Keymer, V, the players quickly reached an endgame after 5...e5 6.Nb3 d5 7.Bg5 Be6 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.exd5 Qxd5 10.Qxd5 Bxd5 11.Nc3 Be6:

White has no advantage here, and Keymer put on a technical clinic to win a very impressive game.

Till next time, Sam

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