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New Year's Resolutions tend to focus on areas of our lives which could do with some trimming or tidying. In that spirit, this update is largely devoted to problem lines in the Anti-Sicilians where Black poses tough questions to White.

Download PGN of January '12 Anti-Sicilian games

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c3 Sicilian 2...Nf6 [B22]

Skripchenko - Cmilyte focuses on the tough 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.cxd4 d6 7.Bc4 dxe5 line in the c3-Sicilian:

I have been too dismissive of this move in the past and, in fact, Black's position looks thoroughly sound. Perhaps the best consolation from White's viewpoint is that she has the choice between an unbalanced middlegame (8.Bxd5!?) or the solid endgame continuation played in the game where White is at least not worse.

Pavasovic - Kraemer is another look at the 7...Nb6 8.Bb3 d5 line which has been covered on ChessPub before. I agree with Messrs. Shaw and Vigorito that this is a good attempt for Black to keep pieces on the board in a French-type position. Still, I think White tends to get a slightly favourable version of the French Tarrasch, as indicated in the notes.

Sevillano - Arnold is a quick white win in a tricky line, 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bc4 Nb6 6.Bb3 d5 7.exd6 Qxd6 8.d4 cxd4 9.Na3:

but theory has long liked Black in these positions and this game does nothing to shake that verdict.

c3 Sicilian: 2...d5 [B22]

Howell - Wang Yue features the little-known 5...Bf5!?:

Certainly Howell was ill-prepared since he quickly went a pawn down with a bad position. However, hopefully the notes indicate that White needn't resign just yet...

c3 Sicilian: 2...e6 [B22]

Howell - Short features the solid 2...e6 line in the c3-Sicilian, which is clearly informed by (and sometimes transposes into) the French:

I've said for a while that this is a sound defence, whose lack of popularity derives from the difficulty of handling both the Sicilian and the French well.

Rossolimo Variation 3...g6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 [B31]

Andriasen - Grigoryan features opposite-side castling:

with interesting, unbalanced play.

Moscow Variation 3...Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 [B52]

Collins - Arnold is another example of the line featured in Howell - Socko:

I fared a bit better than David, but not sufficiently to shake my previous assessment of comfortable equality for Black.

Rozenthalis - Socko is an example of passive Black play in the Maroczy Bind with h3.

Till next month, Sam

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