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Hello, and welcome to the Noah's Ark edition of your regular anti-Sicilian column. This month, we're doing things two-by-two!

Download PGN of June '15 Anti-Sicilian games

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2.c3 Sicilian 2...Nf6 old mainline 6 Bc4, 10...dxc3 [B22]

We start off with a couple of classic old-school main lines of the 2...Nf6 variation. Berg - Westerberg is definitely one worth checking out. White generally is not supposed to get very much against the old main line with ...d6/Nc6, but Emanuel shows us that Black's life isn't completely rosy after 11.Bxe6!?:

I don't believe that White should be able to win against correct defense, but it's definitely a worthy practical weapon.

2.c3 Sicilian 2...Nf6 ...e6/d6 setup [B22]

Zvjaginsev - Svidler was a high-levelled clash in the popular ...e6/d6 setup.

As I've said many times before, I'm not a big fan of voluntarily capturing on d6 with White in this variation, but it's seen often in practice. Still, Svidler's 11...Nf6 looks like a safe equalizer to me.

Rossolimo Variation 3...e6 4.0-0 Nge7 5.d4!? [B30]

Our next pair involves 3...e6. Vachier Lagrave-Gelfand was a super strong test of Caruana's favourite 5.d4!?:

I still feel that White gets a little something after the normal 9.c4, but MVL's novelty 9.Nc3!? is interesting and certainly sharper. Still, Gelfand handled things well and the game quickly filtered down to a draw.

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

A bit more life was seen in Malakhov - Reshetnikov. I quite like the sideline 6.h4 for White, but reasonably similar positions are seen in the main line of 6.Qe2:

This must surely only be a main line in terms of popularity, because White's position is both visually appealing and much easier to play - and probably simply better.

Anti-Advance French 4.e5 d4 [B40]

Our third 'couple' steps on French territory. Sjugirov - Svidler investigates this attempt by Black to avoid the French Defense transposition that can occur in the 2.c3 Sicilian:

I've studied this a few times before on this site, concluding that White has good chances to present her opponent with problems to solve over-the-board. Svidler has some prior experience in this variation, however, and defended well, eventually even picking up the full point.

King's Indian Attack [C00/A08]

Our second French transposition is Andreikin - Bukavshin.

We're once again checking out the King's Indian Attack, another popular 2...e6 antidote. White can seriously drum up some decent attacking chances in this forgotten weapon. Check out the notes to Black's tenth move to see how White has been creating problems in the main line recently.

Zaitsev Variation 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Qd3 [B53]

Finally, something I haven't looked at in a while: 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4!?. There's been some action in this variation of late. The heavily-analysed Nepomniachtchi - Sjugirov will get you started. The first little wrinkle is the recent trend towards 6.c4!?:

although the game usually transposes back into main lines. I'm not sure why Black doesn't seem to want to profit from this move-order; see my notes to Black's sixth move to grasp the possibilities.

In the main line, however, White seems to be able to create some not-insignificant problems, as seen in both this game and also Malakhov - Gabrielian. The latter game follows the popular main line down past move fifteen:

Like so many Antis, this variation promises nothing more than equality against best play, but excellent practical chances for White against the unaware opponent!

Cheers, Dave

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