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I have continued to concentrate on anti-Sicilian games played by highly rated players. This month there is the traditional range of tricky ideas that demand detailed and precise solutions. However, there are also a couple of examples of White playing standard theory and then Black runs out of theory too early. With the ever-increasing strength of the engines, now more than ever a chess player will be punished for failing to do his or her homework.

Download PGN of May '11 Anti-Sicilian games

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

When I saw the game Khamrakulov - Holmirzaev it brought back bad memories of one of my old games that I had happily forgotten. After 1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nc6 5.Nf3 e5!?:

one logical continuation offers White the chance to grab the b7-pawn. Don't do it!

The next two c3-Sicilian games are the examples I mentioned above, which show that Black needs to do his homework to stay out of trouble.

In Ragger - Vega Gutierrez Black followed at least 15 moves of theory but it was not enough. After 1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 e6 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.cxd4 Nc6 8.Nc3 Qd6 9.a3 Be7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Be3 b6 12.Qe2 Bb7 13.Rad1 Rad8 14.Rfe1 Rfe8 15.Bb1:

the players reached a well-known position where Black needs to know (or find) a few more accurate moves.

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

In Godena - Sreeves Black ran out of theory a little earlier. After 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bc4 Nb6 6.Bb3 d5 7.exd6 Qxd6 8.Na3 Be6 9.d4 Bxb3 10.Qxb3 cxd4 11.Nb5:

he came up with a losing novelty.

Grand Prix Attack 4.d4 [B23]

Istratescu - Sebag shows a tricky sideline White can try: 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4 g6 4.d4!?

My notes suggest that a well-prepared Black player will score well.

2 Nf3 various 2nd Moves - 2...g6 [B27]

Vocaturo - Leon Hoyos uses a slightly unusual move order to get to a position normally reached by 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6:

The evidence suggests Black can solve his problems or at least limit his disadvantage to tiny proportions.

2...b6 [B27]

Vianin - Bauer is a rare look at the 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 b6 line. Following 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Bb7 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Qc7:

I have long recommended that White sac a pawn. In the game White avoided my recommendation, but my analysis supports my old favourite.

Quiet System/anti-Kan [B40]

Klimov - Shimanov features what I might call an anti-Kan line: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 a6 4.g3 b5 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.d3 d6 7.0-0

White has a crude plan of Ng5 and f2-f4. An unclear middlegame is White's aim and he usually achieves it. I have a suggestion in the notes of how Black can attempt a forcing solution.

Moscow Variation 3...Bd7 [B52]

In Vorobiov - Dubov, after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.0-0 Nf6 6.Re1 Nc6 7.c3 e6 8.d4, Black avoided the usual capture on d4 in favour of 8...d5:

The game suggests Black should stick to the old line.

Till next month, John Shaw

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