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This month I have studied a mixture of lines. The common thread is that the games are the most recent and theoretically interesting efforts of the highest-rated anti-Sicilian practitioners.
As it turns out, most of the games are in the c3-variation.

Download PGN of March '11 Anti-Sicilian games

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2.c3 Variation 2...d5 [B22]

In Rozentalis - Mogranzini we take a look at the rare 5.dxc5:

After the queen exchange on d1 we have an accelerated version of a situation that is possible in various 2.c3 lines. I believe the differences favour Black who should have excellent compensation if White hangs onto the pawn.

2.c3 Variation 2...Nf6 [B22]

Kosteniuk - Salgado Lopez is a fresh example of the 13.a4 idea Radjabov unveiled at Linares 2009:

White varied from that game, but perhaps following it was a better idea.

The next diagram shows a key position in the 2.c3 line:

This was the setting for a theoretical debate in the Reykjavik Open between the Sveshnikovs (father and son Evgeny and Vladimir) and former World Junior Champion GM Ahmed Adly. The Sveshnikovs were White, naturally, but only scored one draw out of two games. However, it could have been so much more. The game is E. Sveshnikov-Adly (with an excerpt of V.Sveshnikov-Adly in the notes).

The next game, Vajda - Neubronner, is another 2.c3 line but I am taking a different approach with it. The diagram position is not a critical moment when a novelty is about to be unleashed. It is rather a fairly balanced position that GM Levente Vajda has won five times out of five:

Black players don't need a novelty, they need to become comfortable playing the middlegame. Accordingly, I have included all five of Vajda's games in the notes with brief annotations. I think this will help give a feel for standard plans and tricks.

In Zelbel - Nyzhnyk White tests a very rare line in a well-known position:

From the diagram White almost always plays 8.Qe2 with 8...g5 the well-analysed follow-up. Instead Zelbel played 8.0-0!? leaving the e5-pawn to its fate. White gains good compensation and the rising star playing Black had to find a lot of good moves to scrape a draw.

The 2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 Nf6 4.h3 System [B50]

In Nijboer - Rijnaarts we see a recent example of my favoured line against the 2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 Nf6 4.h3 system. That is 4...Nc6 5.Bd3 d5:

White plays a novelty and eventually wins, but I am still supporting Black.

Moscow/Rossolimo hybrid [B51]

Karjakin - Smirnov is just a blitz game but Karjakin uses an unusual idea that is worth a look. After 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nc6 4.0-0 Bd7 White tried the little known 5.c4!?:

There is also a little tactical trick for positional gains that Black should be aware of and avoid. In the game this trick worked well enough for Karjakin.

Regards, John Shaw

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