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Hi all,
This month we look at all the Anti-Sicilian tussles from Tata Steel, and several interesting battles from the Opera Euro Rapid.

Download PGN of February ’21 Anti-Sicilian games

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Rossolimo Variation 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6 4.0-0 Nge7 [B30]

MVL contested two games with the World Champion in this line.

In the first, Vachier Lagrave, M - Carlsen, M, he chose 5.b3 Nd4 6.Nxd4 cxd4 7.Bb2:

In the second, Vachier Lagrave, M - Carlsen, M, he preferred the more critical 5.Re1 Nd4 6.Nxd4 cxd4 7.c3:

However, he prevailed in both games.

Wesley So recently published a white repertoire on Chessable based, in part, on Anti-Sicilians with Bb5, and he stayed quite true to his recommendations in the Opera Euro Rapid.

In So, W - Dubov, D he essayed his recommendation 5.d4!?:

Dubov was doing well out of the opening but So prevailed in a complex fight.

Rossolimo Variation 3.Bb5 e5 4.0-0 Bd6 [B30]

In Grandelius, N - Caruana, F, Caruana used this line (Jobava, Rapport and Carlsen had led the way before) to gain an excellent position after an opening inaccuracy by Grandelius.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.a4 Ngf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 [B51]

Aryan Tari used the Moscow variation as his main weapon in Wijk, and was tested in a couple of games after 3...Nd7.

In Tari, A - Wojtaszek, R the players contested the heavily explored position after 4.a4 (probably one of the most popular lines at present) 4...Ngf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 b6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 e5 9.Qe3 Bb7:

Wojtaszek secured an excellent position from the opening, before a mistake led to a very poor endgame he did well to hold.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.d4 cxd4 [B51]

In Tari, A - Duda, J, after 4.d4 cxd4 White played the rare 5.Nxd4!?:

Duda responded precisely with 5...Ngf6 6.Bd3 Nc5! and obtained a decent position.

Moscow Variation 3...Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bg7 [B52]

In So, W - Carlsen, M, Wesley So created a great ad for his Chessable course, playing his recommendation 9.f3 0-0 10.Be3 Rc8 11.b3 to win against the World Champion:

Although the opening wasn’t the cause.

Zaitsev Variation 4...Nc6 5.Qe3 Nf6 6.Be2 [B53]

Esipenko, A - Vachier Lagrave, M should be a source of inspiration for black players facing this very solid setup. After 6...g6 7.0-0 Bg7 8.Rd1 0-0, White avoided the common 9.h3 in favour of 9.Nc3:

MVL responded aggressively and creatively, finding a very promising queen sacrifice a few moves later.

Till next time, Sam

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