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As regular readers of my column would be aware, I - despite my best intentions - am usually biased in my writings towards the white side of anti-Sicilians. Note that I strive my best not to let this get in the way of my objectivity when it comes to evaluating and analysing; what I mean is that I'm usually more inclined to hunt for new ideas for White than I am for Black. In any case, though, I've decided that it's high time I wrote a column specifically focussed towards a black repertoire, and that's what we'll be mainly looking at this time around. The theme will be a solid approach for Black against the Grand Prix and 3.Bb5(+) systems.

Download PGN of January '15 Anti-Sicilian games

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Of course, your own personal repertoire should depend largely on which Sicilian (or Sicilians) you employ. If you're a 2...e6 sort of cat, then 3.Bb5(+) stuff shouldn't worry you in the slightest. On the other hand, for example, the King's Indian Attack comes into play - see last month's column.

If you're a Najdorf player, then both 2.Nf3 and 2.Nc3 are most conveniently met by 2...d6, although 2...Nc6 (intending 3.Nf3 e5!?) is certainly possible. A Sveshnikov is likely to prefer 2...Nc6, though the 2...e6 move-order is a clever 'anti-Antis' approach if one is happy to play the whacky variation 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Nxc6!? bxc6 7.e5, etc. A Dragon player can essentially pick and choose between 2...d6 and 2...Nc6, while the extra option of 2...g6!? is preferred by some Dragon players on the ChessPub forum. I can't advise on all possible combinations, but it's worth bearing this in mind when choosing your black repertoire so as not to be 'move-ordered' by combinations of Nf3 and Nc3 on the second and third moves.

To cover as many based as possible, I'm suggesting a ...d6/Nc6 setup for Black against 3.Bb5 ideas. This Moscow/Rossolimo hybrid is underrated for Black in my opinion. It may seem strange to invite and encourage the pin on the c6 knight, but once one realises that 4.Bxc6+ is hardly threatening, the solidity and harmony of Black's pieces should offer some reassurance.

2.c3 Sicilian 2...d5, 5...Bf5 [B22]

However, to kick things off, we'll slightly digress with a brief touch on the 2.c3 Sicilian. Salgado Lopez-Antipov looks at a quirky option for White against the enduringly fashionable 2...d5 variation with ...Bf5. White chose to cut out all the tricks with an early 6.dxc5!?, immediately changing the nature of the contest:

We've seen this move a lot, but usually with a black bishop on g4 (and either Nc6 or Nf6). Here, Black no longer has the luxury of the pin on the f3 knight, but on the other hand, White's king can't access c2 in the endgame. All in all, my analysis seems to indicate that a draw is practically forced with best play by both sides, but both White and Black really need to know what they're doing along the way. This sideline is definitely worth remembering, for either colour - particularly as, in the game, Black is essentially lost after 6...Qxc5?.

2.Nc3 g6 3.Bc4 [B23]

Next, a special Anti for Dragon players. 2...g6 is a bit of a favourite among fire-breathing members of the ChessPub forum, leaving White without a target on the a4-e8 diagonal for the time being. However, White has an additional option of a barbaric attempt at Scholar's Mate:

In Anton Guijarro-Bu, the extremely strong Chinese 2700 shows the way, demonstrating that the time White spends on forcing Black's king to e7 is not at all time well spent. A perfect example of how to handle the black side of this line for those favouring the 2...g6 move-order.

Grand Prix Attack 2...d6 5 Bb5-c4 [B23]

From one Chinese champ to another: two wins by Hou Yifan illustrate what I believe is the way to go with regards to the popular Grand Prix Attack. In Hou - Ju, we take a look at what happens when Black opts for 2...d6 and White plays in the modern fashion with an Bb5+ followed by Bc4. We've looked at this before, but this time I go a bit deeper.

From the diagram, we'll cover both 7.0-0 and 7.d3, and, in the case of the latter, consider some excellent analysis suggested on the Forum by some of our generous members.

Grand Prix Attack 5 Bb5 Nd4 [B23]

Then Paehtz - Hou considers lines with ...Nc6 met by White's Bb5, which could come about either from the 2...Nc6 or 2...g6 move-orders.

This blitz game saw the diagram's cheeky 6.Bd3!?, which is perhaps less testing than 6.0-0, but after either move Black should equalise with only a rudimentary knowledge of the theory.

Moscow/Rossolimo Hybrid - 3.Bb5(+) [B51]

Finally, we move on to the crux of this edition: 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nc6!? (or 2...Nc6 3.Bb5 d6!?). If you are after a quick-and-dirty repertoire for Black against 3.Bb5, my aim is for this and next month's games to tide you over. This month, we will focus exclusively on the 4.0-0, 5.Re1, 6.c3 (or 5.c3, 6.Re1) system:

Nepomniachtchi - Vachier Lagrave looks at 7.Ba4, when I analyse several options for Black but am suggesting 7...c4!? as my primary recommendation.

Ter Sahakyan-Gasimov and Liang - Guramishvili both consider the most popular move 7.Bf1, which invariably leads to the following position:

Here, the former game analyses the main line after 9...g6, although I personally believe that White has good chances to keep an edge here. The latter sees Sopiko opting for 9...e6!?, which in my opinion is another underrated system, is more common in correspondence chess, and offers far better chances of equalising against best play:

So, I guess, check it out!

To wrap up, Muzychuk - Ju analyses the rare 7.Bxc6, which leads to a pawn sacrifice following 7...Bxc6 8.d4!?:

This gambit can be dangerous against the unprepared - but, of course, you won't be!

That should keep you going for now. Sicilian players, be proud: this month is your edition! Dave

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Please post you queries on the Anti-Sicilians Forum, or subscribers can write to me at if you have any questions or queries.