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Hello everyone! I'm back on Anti-Sicilians duty, replacing the outstanding David Smerdon. For my first update back I decided to focus on two top recent tournaments: the recently completed European Championships, and Shamkir (where Anish Giri is, at present, on 1.5/2 on the Black side of two Anti Sicilians).

Download PGN of June ’16 Anti-Sicilian games

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2.c3 Sicilian 2...Nf6 Mainline ...d6, ...dxe5 [B22]

In Mamedov - Giri, the Dutch star opts for one of the safest lines from Black's perspective, the ending arising after 7...dxe5 8.dxe5 Ndb4, and then follows his wife's earlier game with 10...Bg4:

In reply Mamedov opts for the safe 10.Bd2 rather than the critical 10.0-0!, and doesn't get much.

Closed Sicilian 6.f4 Nf6 [B25]

Neverov - Jones shows a straightforward approach for Black to meet the Closed Sicilian, namely 7...Bg4:

Gawain plays consistently for the dark-squares and gets an interesting and fully playable position.

Moscow/Rossolimo Hybrid 7.Bc4 [B51]

Howell - Antipov is another game in the fresh 7.Bc4!? line, the analysis of which was pioneered by Dave Smerdon on this site:

Black players have yet to neutralise this tricky line, and Howell definitely had his chances to gain a sizeable edge in this game.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.d4 cxd4 5.Qxd4 a6 [B51]

Several games with 3...Nd7 this month.

Kovalev - Saric features a position after move 10 which was tested in a World Championship match:

Rather than Magnus' approach of 11.Qd3, 12.Nd4 and chopping the bishop on c6, Kovalev leaves this bishop alive and, facing the bishop pair with no compensation, severely damages his own position, resulting in a model win for Saric.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.0-0 a6 5.Bd3 Ngf6 [B51]

Kovalev did a lot better in a subsequent round, Kovalev - Volokitin, where Black avoided the topical 6...b5 7.c4!? line by playing 6...e6:

This has been tried by strong players including Ragger, but Volokitin stumbled into a wonderful sacrificial attack.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.0-0 Ngf6 5.Re1 a6 6.Bf1 [B51]

Ter Sahakyan - Valsecchi features a sideline after 6.Bf1, namely 6...e5:

The problem with many ...e5 systems in the Anti-Sicilians is that Black risks ending up in an inferior Ruy Lopez, as happened here.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.c4 [B51]

Safarli - Giri features a line I had never seen before, meeting 3...Nd7 with 4.c4:

I don't know why the bishop's on b5 here and after very natural moves I think White already needs to equalise.

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

Hammer - Esen features an underrated response to White's move order with 4.c4, namely 9...Nbxd7!?:

This seems very comfortable for Black. In the game Hammer quickly got into trouble after Black executed a thematic ...d5-break.

Till next time, Sam

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