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2.c3 Sicilian 2...d5 - 5 Nf3 Bg4 6 Nbd2 [B22]
My strong teammate in the Bundesliga, Alexander Areshchenko, is usually an opening theory machine. But he went astray against the rare but tricky 6.Nbd2 sideline after 5...Bg4:
In Heberla - Areshchenko, White got the dream position against his higher-rated opponent and collected a big scalp. But as I show in the notes, Black can hope for a draw at best against this sideline, even with best play, so it's a very practical choice for White.
Universal Rossolimo (Moscow/Rossolimo Hybrid) 7.Bc4 [B51]
Fellow Chess Publishing associate Gawain Jones won the strong (and lucrative!) 2016 Dubai Open thanks to a smashing win in the last round against tournament leader Boris Savchenko. Please forgive me some final-column self-congratulation as I smugly report that it was thanks in part to my analysis of 7.Bc4 in past months:
This sideline really impresses me and yet for some reason, it still continues to fly under the radar for most players. Gawain got a winning position straight out of the opening in Jones - Savchenko and had no problems converting the point.
Rossolimo Variation 3...g6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.0-0 Bg7 6.Re1 [B31]
A special focus is on the 3...g6 variation of the Rossolimo. Following on from last week, Caruana - Kasparov (yes, THAT Kasparov!) looks at 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.0-0 again.
Ironically, the earliest game from the diagram in the ChessPublishing archives was Kasparov-Salov from 1992! I've analysed this position a few times and I think it gives White dangerous attacking chances. In this game it's Black who pulls out the big aggressive cards in a game reminiscent of many fine Kasparov attacks, but White didn't have to allow this. In particular, improvements on move 17 for White would have given Caruana a clear advantage after Kasparov's dubious novelty 15...g5?!. In fact, if you take the analysis to this game along with that of Naiditsch-Bu and Jakovenko-Cornette, you'll be very dangerous against anyone who tries 3...g6 against you!
Rossolimo Variation 3...g6 4.0-0 [B31]
On the other hand, White also has some neat ideas in the quieter 4.0-0 variation. This variation is more subtle in nature but you can get a good idea of the intricacies in Fenwick - Epure, a high-level correspondence game from last year with a rare decisive result! White won surprisingly easily after the rare but strong 7.h3!:
In the notes, I explain how powerful this position can be if handled correctly, and also exactly why this little move is so important. But to really understand why the more popular 7.d4 isn't as good, you'll have to check out Nozdrachev - Motylev, our one black victory for this month. It's all about the rare 7...d5!, when White needs to think about equalizing.
Delayed Alapin 2...d6 3.c3 Nf6 4.Be2 [B50]
To fittingly hand over the column to Sam, I've decided to annotate a recent game of his. Not only is he a great analyst and writer but he also uses anti-Sicilians to potent effect in his games. In Collins - Palliser he lets yet another former Antis columnist for this site off the hook. (We really keep it in the family, huh?):
But theoretically speaking, neither Sam nor I can understand why the popularity of this system for White has died down, as the first player has excellent attacking chances from the diagram.
Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.0-0 a6 5.Bd3 Ngf6 [B51]
Topalov, the Moscow, 3...Nd7 4.0-0 a6 5.Bd3 Ngf6... yeh, we've been here before. But no ...g5 novelty this time! On the white side, Topa cuts out this possibility straight away with the rare 6.a4!?:
It's not a bad little wrinkle to be honest, though it can't objectively promise an advantage. Still, it leads to a very playable position with more space and easy development, which White was able to cultivate to a win in Topalov - Vachier Lagrave.
Moscow Variation 3...Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.c4 [B52]
Our final game for the month, and my final one as an analyst, is another correspondence game. I wanted to present the ultimate 'truth' of the Maroczy setup after 3.Bb5+ Bd7, and we see that in Serner - Batrakov.
This recent game shows that while Black should equalize in the long run, White can - with keen accuracy - prevent Black from breaking out and immediately clarifying the centre. This is the main point for most 3.Bb5+ players: they just want a position with more space and most importantly control over their opponent's breaks so as to try and outplay them. A key resource to do this is the queen move Qd3, keeping an eye on b5 and d5. In the game White reaches a slightly more pleasant endgame that in correspondence chess wasn't enough for serious winning chances, but White's life is definitely more comfortable.
And with that, "Smerdon out". I wish you enjoyable reading, good fortune, and great victories! Dave
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