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2.c3 Sicilian 2...d5, Main line 6 Na3 [B22]
We kick things off with a look at the 2...d5 with ...e6 system. Two top clashes saw White try Na3, which, as we've seen in the past, offers White good chances for a pleasant pull. Salgado Lopez-Svidler saw Pete opt for the main line 6...Qd8:
I really believe that 7.Nc4! deserves more attention here, and I've repeated and extended my old analysis in the notes. However, Ivan tried the more typical 7.Nc2 and didn't get a whole lot.
Nakamura - Yu saw Hikaru give this idea a whirl, but via the tricky delayed-d4 variation:
This can be a bit of a handful if Black doesn't know what he's doing and tries to transpose back into the above lines, and in this game that proved to be the case. Hikaru got a great IQP out of the opening, although 4.Na3 can't really blow 2...d5 out of the water, of course.
2.c3 Sicilian 2...d5, Main line 6 Be3 [B22]
Nabaty - Nakamura saw Hikaru on the black side of things, and on move eight he tried the very odd retreat 8...Qd8?!:
I've always thought this move is almost child-like, but I guess Hikaru just wanted to get his opponent out of theory. It has, to be fair, also been played by other grandmasters! White can get a very pleasant IQP in a number of ways, but, as so often happens, the pressure of playing the great Red Bull posterboy was too much for White in this game.
2.c3 Sicilian 2...d6 [B22/07]
Robertson - Jones is a sad game for ChessPub fans, as one of our own authors takes a bit of a hammering. Gawain tries 2...d6, a common attempt by stronger players to mix up the contest against weaker 2.c3 devotees. However, White is guaranteed an edge in my opinion, and Peter plays this line in great fashion. In fact, Gawain was *so* lost that on move 25, White even had a mate in 13! Yes, that's "mate in thirteen". Can you spot it?!
Amazingly, Gawain held the draw - this is one of those games that you should really follow through to the end, if only for entertainment value!
Nf3/Nc3/Be2 systems [B40]
I'm not sure this line has a name. Harikrishna - Muzychuk sees White take the same approach of "just playing chess" that Hikaru has made famous:
Actually, 4.Be2 is not as uncommon as you think. Against best play, though, White probably should transpose back into an open Sicilian of a sort of Taimanov nature, so some knowledge of these lines is probably necessary if you want to play this sort of Anti. Anna instead tries to punish her 2700+ (!) opponent, but it backfires.
Rossolimo Variation 3...e6 4.b3!? [B30]
Vandenbussche - Vovk sees the very rare 3...e6 4.b3!?:
This most often transposes to the far more common 4.0-0 Nge7 5.b3 variation, which also hasn't been well covered on ChessPublishing. While less forcing, it certainly doesn't seem like a bad option for White, and is very easy to play. Worth checking out to add to the arsenal.
Moscow Variation 3...Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Nxd7!? [B52]
Howell - Nakamura is our third Naka game! Again, Hikaru quickly takes his opponent off the more well-trodden paths by playing 4...Nxd7!?:
This is a rare but not necessarily bad variation, so I suggest you check out the notes to White's sixth move to see the easiest way to handle this as White. David tries something a little more orthodox, but fails to get any advantage and soon finds himself outplayed in the middlegame. It's a real testament to his fighting spirit that he managed to steal half a point from this game, especially seeing as Hikaru was absolutely on fire in Gibraltar!
Prins Variation 5.f3!? e5 6.Bb5+ [B55]
Finally, a pseudo-Anti to finish. This cannot be recommended, but Black needs to know what he's doing:
Rodriguez - Vila sees the modern-day expert of the white side strutting his stuff, so at least we get to witness the cutting-edge of this offbeat system. With best play, White can avoid being worse, while Black does have a lot of opportunities to go wrong, so it's not 'terrible'! See in particular the notes to move 12.
That's it for now! Dave
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