The O'Kelly [B28]
In Panarin - Sergienko we start with White's rare 3rd move replies to 2...a6. There are many interesting moves, like 3.Be2:
but nothing to dissuade a budding O'Kelly player.
Paikidze - Baklan shows that if White tries to play in Open style with 3.Nc3 and 4.d4 then Black can keep the game in O'Kelly channels with 4...e6!?:
In Kekic - Kurajica we reach one of White's two serious threats to the O'Kelly - 3.c4. Many transpositions to usual Open positions are possible, but this game covers a line where Black steers the game towards independent paths with 3...d6 4.d4 Bg4:
I used to think this line was unplayable, but it seems Black has acceptable play, even if equality is not guaranteed.
The last line is the critical threat to the O'Kelly - 3.c3. Black has many non-theoretical replies, but in Dabetic - Baklan I have focussed on the recently popular choice of O'Kelly specialists - 3...d6 4.d4 Qc7!?:
White may have an edge, but Black has a playable position.
The Modern Grand Prix [B23]
For those who are not interested in the O'Kelly I will offer a recent example from my own practice of 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5 (the Modern Grand Prix as David Vigorito logically calls it). I do practise what I preach, and test the lines I recommend in my own games. The game Shaw - McClement offers a new position in the 7.a4 line:
but with the usual anti-Sicilian verdict - Black can equalize and then both sides can play for a win.
The c3-Sicilian [B22]
The c3-Sicilian is my last topic of the month.
The game Looshnikov - Gabrielian is related to the line I suggest against 3.c3 in the O'Kelly. 2.c3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Bd3 Qc7 is one way to avoid a lot of theory and play for a win against the c3-Sicilian:
White will start the middlegame with a space advantage, but a complicated fight is likely.
Shaw - Dreev is an unpleasant memory from 2005, but I don't think it has appeared in the Archives so I should warn c3-practitioners that one particular book recommendation for White is worth avoiding. In the trendy 2...d5 and 4...g6 line White should not try the central advance 6.c4 and 7.d5:
Pinski - Brodsky shows a wild deviation for White from the main lines and common sense. White's sac is unsound and can only work as a surprise weapon:
so Black players should scan my recommended refutation.
Best wishes, John