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Hi all,
This month’s updates features games (exclusively at classical time controls) from strong team competitions in Germany, Italy and the UK, with several efforts by 2700+ GMs.

Download PGN of May ’19 Anti-Sicilian games

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Rossolimo Variation 3...e5 4.0-0 Bd6 [B30]

Giri, A - Rapport, R features this offbeat line in which Jobava has achieved good results. Black was doing well after 5.c3 a6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.d4 exd4 8.cxd4 Bg4 when the white centre was under pressure:

but White has better options at move 6 (although no clear route to an advantage as far as I can see).

Anti-Sveshnikov Variation 6.Nd2 Nf6 7.Nf1 Nd7 8.Ne3 [B30]

In Harikrishna, P - Nihal, S the players reached an important position after 6.Nd2 Nf6 7.Nf1 Nd7 8.Ne3:

Magnus has not yet shown the way here for Black, and the position remained complicated and balanced before experience prevailed in an opposite-coloured bishop endgame.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.c3 Nfg6 5.Qe2 a6 6.Ba4 [B51]

One of my own efforts proceeded 6...Qc7 7.0-0 c4, trying to prevent White from obtaining a full centre:

In Collins, S - Bates, R I got a pleasant position out of the opening and retained some pressure throughout the game, although Richard missed a late chance to enter a (probably) drawn bishop endgame.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.Ba4 Ngf6 5.0-0 [B51]

Jones, G - Sadzikowski, D was another outing for this fashionable line. I like Black’s choice of 5...e6!? which, by threatening to capture on e4, aims to force Re1:

Gawain has a lot of experience in this c4-d3-e4 structure (including in his Qe2 systems against the 2...e6 Sicilian and the French), and he won convincingly after his opponent played a little too ambitiously.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.d4 cxd4 5.Qxd4 a6 6.Bxd7+ Bxd7 7.Nc3 [B51]

Gawain is on fire at the moment and, in Jones, G - Saric, I, he essayed the rare 7...Rc8 8.e5:

After 8...dxe5 9.Nxe5 Saric played 9...f6?! (perhaps fearing the rare 9...Nf6 10.Bf4!?), but needed to be quite careful in the endgame. Gawain skilfully nursed his initiative against the exposed black king and won a game which, although a computer would never have lost, is a typical example of his very enterprising style which poses real problems for his opponents.

7...e5 avoids the line from Jones - Saric and was tried in Fressinet, L - Bates, R. After 8.Qd3 h6 9.Nd2 Nf6 10.Nc4 Be6 11.0-0 Qc7 12.Ne3 the players reached a typical position for this line:

White had a pleasant edge but, overcoming a substantial rating deficit, Black defended excellently to secure a draw.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.0-0 a6 5.Bd3 Nfg6 6.c3 [B51]

This line (in place of the more standard 6.Re1) has been the recent fashion and one of its top exponents (with both colours) was in action in Svidler, P - Van Wely, L. After 6...e6 7.Bc2 b5 8.d4 Bb7 9.Re1 Be7 10.Nbd2 (all of which we’ve discussed before) I prefer White based on his central space advantage, though of course Black has his trumps.

Van Wely defended excellently in the early middlegame until a late mistake caused him to shed some pawns.

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

It seems to me that this line, which was once viewed as a clean equaliser, is being avoided by Black, perhaps for fear of being tortured with little counterplay in a Maroczy structure. Lupulescu, C - Griffiths, R largely followed that narrative after 5...Nc6 (I believe 5...Nf6 is more accurate, forcing White to play precisely to avoid Ivanchuk’s familiar drawing idea) 6.Nc3 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 Nf6 10.f3 0-0 11.Rc1 Rfc8 12.b3:

This game (a welcome distraction to me from my own battle on the adjacent board against Daniel Fridman, which ended badly) is a model example of White’s reaction to a ...b5-break.

Till next time, Sam

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