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A couple of 2.c3's and a couple of 3.Bb5's, but the real focus this month is on what I've termed the '3.c3 Anti Advanced French' - at least, until someone corrects me! This is a relatively understudied line, but can crop up quite frequently and is a useful addition to any Antis repertoire that involves 2.c3 or 3.Bb5(+), so it's worth paying attention.

Download PGN of June '14 Anti-Sicilian games

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2 c3 Sicilian 2...Nf6, ...e6 & ...d6, 9 Bd2 [B22]

Kicking things off, I've taken a look at the popular ...e6/d6 system after 2...Nf6. Alekseev - Grischuk features a recent approach whereby Black delays ...Nc6 until after he has castled. This generally leads to the diagram, although I've listed a bunch of White's promising alternatives to 9.Bd2 in the notes.

Grischuk chose to immediately head for an endgame with 10...Nb6, but with accurate play White can register a comfortable endgame advantage.

In Kobalia - Dominguez Black preferred swapping on e5 on move 10:

and then c3 after which he soon equalised and then gradually outplayed his strong opponent. However, in this line I too believe White has good chances to maintain lasting pressure after a couple of accurate moves. Honestly, if White knows a minimally sufficient amount of theory (as I've laid out for you!), I can't see the attraction in this set-up for Black. And it's in fashion - good practical news for us on the white side!

2.c3 Sicilian 2...Nf6, 5...Nc6 6 Bc4 [B22]

Speaking of practical chess, Landa - Shirov is a good line to keep tucked away in the memory bank for a rainy day. Against the old main line of 2...Nf6, I've analysed what I believe to be almost a practically drawn line that White can force.

This may sound theoretically irrelevant, but from time to time there do crop up such occasions where White would be more than happy to take half a point, whether because of a far stronger opponent or because of the tournament situation. This may not be the most exciting game for this month, but it could well prove to be the most useful some day!

Rossolimo/Moscow Hybrid 4 Bxc6+ [B51]

Negi - Vishnu sees the extremely talented Indian Grandmaster going for the simplest solution against the ...d6/Nc6 hybrid variation of 3.Bb5. By immediately exchanging on c6 and following up with e5, White immediately puts the question to Black's damaged structure. His opponent game up with a novelty, 5...e6!?, leading to the diagram:

Negi was successful in rounding up the c5 pawn, and indeed White should be better as I demonstrate in the notes. However, Black's counter-chances in these lines with the two bishops and rolling kingside pawns should never be underestimated.

Anti Advanced French 2 Nf3 e6 3 c3 d5 4 e5 d4 [B40]

We now turn to an unusual and under-analysed variation that, as you can see, I don't really know how to name! However, it's an important system for all Anti-Sicilian players to know, particularly those whose repertoire is based around 3.Bb5. For many of you who begin with 2.Nf3, you'll prefer to answer 2...e6 with 3.c3, transposing to the 2.c3 Sicilian while cutting out a lot of Black's options. For those of you who include the Advanced French in your repertoire, you might even like to play 3...d5 4.e5, hoping to take your Sicilian foe into unfamiliar French territory. If this is the case, you'd better be prepared for 4...d4, Black's natural reaction to avoid the transposition:

The resulting structures are unusual and very interesting, with Black temporarily gaining both a space and development advantage, while White has the long-term structural plan of simply rounding up and capturing the cheeky black d-pawn.

Lagno - Ambartsumova is a good place to start. White moves her queen's knight a little earlier than usual:

but the game quickly transposes into a typical position for this variation. In the game, which by the way was only a blitz game, Black never really gets going with making use of her space advantage, and in fact White quickly takes over control of the board with the symmetric a4-a5 and h4-h5 marches. This is a good example of how White can clean up if Black is unfamiliar with this system.

Grischuk - Vitiugov, on the other hand, sees Black take a more active approach to the opening. The unusual deployment of the black queen's bishop to c6 may seem optically appealing, but Black may quickly regret the difficulties this causes his queen's knight:

Overall, this system is probably no worse than the main line, although Black still has to be careful - in this game, Grischuk was successful in employing the normal plan, and Nikita's d-pawn didn't last long. By the way, I've included more variations for the main line with ...Nc6 and ...Nge7-g6 in this game, so don't forget to check out the notes.

Finally, Kovalenko - Miezis demonstrates Black's boldest take on this variation: a swift march of the g-pawn!

It can certainly lead to some unorthodox positions, and I quite like the concept, but ultimately I feel that the long-term difficulties it causes the black king probably outweigh its usefulness. Still, worth knowing, particularly if you should wish to add it to your black arsenal.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4 d4 cxd4, 6 c4 [B51]

Finally, Muzychuk - Zhu looks at a new idea for this site after 3...Nd7. Anna tried 6.c4!? in the recent World Women's Blitz Championship, with great success:

This rare move has a great track record to date (80%!), and is a useful surprise weapon as Black has to reply fairly accurately. However, if she does so, I don't believe 6.c4 can ultimately gain an advantage.

Till next time, enjoy your Summer, my fellow Northerners! To my southern readers: Winter is coming!


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