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Hello everyone!
This was a month with lots of high level Anti-Sicilians, since important blitz and rapid tournaments were played, most notably the Grand Chess Tour events in Paris and Leuven. As one might expect, the quality and theoretical value of these games was rather uneven, so for the most part I've restricted myself to games between strong players at classical time controls.

Download PGN of July ’16 Anti-Sicilian games

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Anti-Sveshnikov 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 [B30]

MVL had an outstanding performance in the French Team Championships, again demonstrating that elite players can clean up when playing against mixed strength fields. In Vachier Lagrave - Komarov, he essayed the rare 13.Qd2 in an important variation:

Komarov reacted well and equalised, but subsequently faltered and lost.

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

In Caruana - Radjabov, we look at the last game of Caruana's remarkable winning streak in Shamkir. Caruana went for the popular 8.Bf4, which we have not covered previously:

Radjabov reacted poorly and soon faced a direct attack which Caruana executed magnificently.

Moscow/Rossolimo Hybrid 7.Bf1 Bg4 8.h3 [B51]

A variation which is somewhere between a surprise weapon and a straightforward mistake runs 4.0-0 Bd7 5.Re1 Nf6 6.c3 a6 7.Bf1 Bg4 8.h3 Bh5?!:

allowing 9.g4! Bg6 10.d4. Strong players keep going here as Black. In Naiditsch - Bailet, we see how White can get a very pleasant advantage by straightforward means against inaccurate defence.

In Kostenko - Ismagambetov, we look at the best defence for Black (10...cxd4 11.cxd4 e5), which has attracted GM attention with both colours but where I prefer White's chances.

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

Topalov tested a fresh new idea in rapid and blitz against MVL in the Leuven Grand Prix, 12...Be7!?:

MVL got nothing out of the opening and I think we can safely anticipate further top games in this line, see Vachier Lagrave - Topalov.

Moscow Variation 3...Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.c4 [B52]

Two games in this line this month. In Anton Guijarro - Anand, Anand allows the Maroczy Bind with the bishop on e3:

Unsurprisingly, Vishy is well prepared (improving on Carlsen - Vachier Lagrave, which was discussed in a previous update) and had no problems from the opening.

Cornette - Naiditsch features the unusual 5...e5!?:

This leads to out-of-the-way positions where White should be slightly better, though not after Cornette's treatment, which led to resignation before move 15!

Zaitsev Variation 4.Qxd4 Nc6 Mainline [B53]

Ganguly - Gao features a rare move in an important line of the 4.Qxd4 variation where White castles queenside, 13...Rd8:

This seems to be quite an elegant solution to Black's opening problems. I was particularly impressed by Gao's handling of the arising endgame, where he offset the weakness of the d5-square with activity on the kingside and queenside.

Until next time, Sam

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