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A couple of years ago I wrote a few columns on the anti-Sicilians. This month I am back to have a look at relevant games played in the last few weeks. The games cover a range of lines and I did not intend that they would share a common theme, but one seems to have crept in on its own - Black is fine if he answers the anti-Sicilian openings with the main lines, but quickly runs into trouble if he replies with a sideline. Since the main lines often lead to drawish positions, the age-old problem of playing for a win with Black against the anti-Sicilians is as tough as ever.

Download PGN of June '10 Anti-Sicilian games

2.c3 Sicilian [B22]

Sevillano - Young backs up one of my long-held beliefs about the c3-Sicilian. If Black studies the theory of the main lines then White has minimal winning chances, even if there is a large grading gap.

Playing for a win with Black against the c3-Sicilian is a much tougher task than equalizing. Deviatkin - Novikov shows a line I used to try with Black, but White's 10.d5 pawn sac is still causing trouble:

Rossolimo [B23]

The line 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5 (does this have a name?) continues to be popular and even appeared this month at the elite level:

Radjabov - Carlsen was not an opening success for White, but I think he can improve.

Abergel - Brunner reached what passes for the main line of this variation and quickly went in White's favour.

Moscow Variation [B52]

Smirin - Vachier-Lagrave shows that in the 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ lines if Black is happy with half a point then 3...Bd7 is still looking good. IM David Vigorito has mentioned this line before, but I think a reminder is useful - most of the fun fighting lines after 3.Bb5+ require Black's cooperation:

I believe heading for this position is Black's most principled reaction.

In the past month the Chinese GM Ni Hua has played 3.Bb5+ four times, scoring a disappointing 1½/4. Ni Hua - Ji Dan was his only win. Black chose a line which has a poor reputation and then tried a new move, but it still fails to impress.

Morra Gambit [B21]

Finally, Dimitrov - Parligras shows the Morra Gambit can take the scalp of a 2550 GM:

Here White played 13.e5!, and finished with a nice mating combination. However, White still needs a good answer to the generally-approved defence that Black avoids in this game.

Best wishes, John

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