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Some useful opening ideas this month, including strong novelties for Black as early as moves 9 and even 5!

Download PGN of January '13 Anti-Sicilian games

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c3-Sicilian with 2...Nf6: Mainline with ...d6 and ...Nc6 [B22]

Vajda - Shirov went down the mainline with 8.Bb5. Often (as in about a dozen of Stevic's games) this is an invitation to an early draw, but Vajda introduced an interesting novelty with 13.Qh5!:

He gained some advantage out of the opening and, despite a late slip, went on to win a good game against extremely strong opposition.

2...Nf6: Universal system with ...d6 and ...e6 [B22]

Istratescu - Pavlovic was an interesting example of Istratescu, who was beaten by Carlsson, switching to the white side of this line with success! Vadja has pioneered this system with Nc3, while Pontus Carlsson's contribution is the inclusion of Rb1 and ...Rab8. Here Istratescu opted for 16.Bb3:

The game followed a familiar course for this variation: Pavlovic was not sufficiently aggressive on the queenside and allowed White a strong kingside initiative at no cost.

Paragua - Edouard featured the variation where White takes on d6 early:

This should be a relatively comfortable IQP from Black's perspective, and after some inaccurate play from White Edouard obtained the better chances and showed good technique to finish.

Delayed d4 [B22]

Tiviakov - Mamedov featured an even earlier capture on d6, allowing Black to recapture with the bishop:

This really should be nothing for White but Mamedov carelessly played into the type of position where Tiviakov has a miniscule structural edge and scores about 90%.

c3-Sicilian: 2...d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 g6 [B22]

Stevic - Cebalo is not the first battle between two these experts in this system, here featuring the main line with 10.Bxd4:

Cebalo improved on a previous encounter and held the draw, though he could have been a bit more precise.

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

Safarli - Vachier Lagrave featured an important novelty in the 6.Qe2 line, namely 9...0-0-0!:

Black had no problems and Safarli even had to be a little careful to make a draw.

Zaitsev Variation 4.Qxd4, 5.h3!? [B53]

After Magnus' success with 5.h3 against Gawain in London, it was easy to predict that this line would become more popular. However, instead of the universal 5...Nc6, in Stevic - Kozul Black varied with 5...Nf6!:

If Black aims for a Hedgehog it seems much more sensible to put the queen's knight on d7, and Kozul effortlessly achieved a good game. The finish was unfortunate, however - his blunder on move 25 was quite inexplicable.

See you next time, Sam

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