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Hi all,
Lots of interesting examples from the Airthings Masters, especially with MVL’s emphatic defence of Black’s chances against various Anti-Sicilians.

Download PGN of January ’21 Anti-Sicilian games

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Rossolimo Variation 3...e6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.d3 Qc7 [B30]

Aronian, L - Radjabov, T featured a modern trend after 5.d3 Qc7 6.0-0 Ne7, the enterprising 7.h4!?:

Aronian had some chances but the game ended in a draw.

Rossolimo 3...g6 4.0-0 Bg7 5.Bxc6 bxc6 6.Re1 Nh6 7.c3 [B31]

In Carlsen, M - Dubov, D Dubov played his main repertoire against the World Champion, and the position after 5.Bxc6 bxc6 6.Re1 Nh6 7.c3 0-0 8.d4 cxd4 9.cxd4 d5 10.e5 f6 11.h3 fxe5 12.dxe5:

, when Dubov uncorked 12...c5! He obtained good drawing chances but Carlsen won a long endgame.

Rossolimo 3...g6 4.0-0 Bg7 5.c3 [B31]

In Moussard, J - Plat, V White played 5.c3 Nf6 6.Re1 0-0 7.h3 a6 8.Bxc6 dxc6 9.d4 cxd4 10.cxd4. Black played the slow 10...Ne8:

and got a difficult position.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.0-0 a6 5.Bd3 Ngf6 6.c3 [B51]

MVL cleaned up on the black side of this variation in the Airthings Masters, not by virtue of superior preparation, but because of his fantastic feeling for Sicilian positions, combined with his abilities at rapid time controls.

After 4.0-0 a6 5.Bd3 Ngf6 6.c3 b5 7.a4 Bb7 8.axb5 axb5 9.Rxa8 Qxa8, he faced two trappy lines:

10.Na3 was tried in Dubov, D - MVL, while Harikrishna, P - MVL featured a sharp piece sacrifice after 10.Bxb5 Bxe4 11.d4:

Black players need to know what they’re doing here.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.0-0 a6 5.Bxd7+ Bxd7 6.c3 [B51]

After 4.0-0 a6, Dubov, D - MVL featured the rare 5.Bxd7+ Bxd7 6.c3 Nf6 7.Re1, which, after 7...Bc6 8.d4 transposes to a line in the Hybrid Variation:

This pawn sacrifice looks quite dangerous for Black, though MVL prevailed in the complications.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.d4 cxd4 5.Qxd4 a6 6.Be2 [B51]

Grischuk, A - MVL showed a new twist after 4.d4 cxd4 5.Qxd4 a6 6.Be2 Ngf6 7.0-0 g6, the immediate 8.e5:

White gets some light pressure but it was easily neutalised.

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

Harikrishna has used this line to good effect:

However, in Harikrishna, P - Nepomniachtchi, I Black obtained a good version of the Dragon after 6...g6 7.0-0 Bg7 8.Rd1 0-0 9.h3 Be6 10.Nc3 Rc8.

Till next time, Sam

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