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A collection from a random assortment of events this month, with several important classical tournaments taking place, most notably the second half of the Candidates where several Anti-Sicilians were important for the final standings.

Download PGN of May ’21 Anti-Sicilian games

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c3-Sicilian Delayed d4 2...Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bc4 Nb6 6.Bb3 d5 7.exd6 c4 8.Bc2 Qxd6 [B22]

In Christiansen, J - Firouzja, A, Black met 9.0-0 with the solid 9...g6. For a time, the players followed Van Foreest - Dubov from Tata Steel 2021, with 10.b3 Bg7 11.Na3 cxb3 12.axb3, before Firouzja varied with the rare 12...Nd5:

This looks objectively dubious, but led to an unbalanced position where Christiansen quickly faltered.

c3-Sicilian: 2...g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.cxd4 d5 [B27]

In Carlsen, M - Nakamura, H, after 5.e5 Bg7 6.Nf3 Nh6 7.Bb5+ Nc6 8.0-0 0-0 9.h3 f6, Carlsen opted for the simple 10.exf6:

The resulting positions are complicated but look very dubious for Black, and Calrsen showed several thematic ideas, including Bb5-a4-b3 to put pressure on the d5-pawn.

c3-Sicilian: 2...e6 3.c3 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.d4 cxd4 6.cxd4 d6 7.Bc4 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 [B22]

Wang, H - Caruana, F was played during Wang Hao’s unfortunate collapse at the end of the Candidates, and featured the unusual 9.a3:

Caruana played a great game, showing how to play for a win from a very sterile and standard symmetrical IQP position.

Carlsen Variation: 2.Nc3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Qd2 g6 6.b3 [B23]

In Grischuk, A - Vachier Lagrave, M, after 6...Bh6 7.f4 Nf6 8.Bb2 e5, Grischuk uncorked an important novelty, 9.Nge2!?:

He played a model game where MVL’s heroic defence created a saving chance which he didn’t manage to exploit.

In Bogner, S - Baenziger, F, after 6...Bg7 7.Bb2 Nf6 8.0-0-0 0-0 9.f3, Black went for the dubious 9...a5:

White obtained excellent play in the resulting position with opposite side castling, and won a good game.

Rossolimo: 3...g6 4.0-0 Bg7 5.Re1 e5 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.d3 [B31]

In Carlsen, M - Dubov, D, Dubov varied from his earlier 7...Qe7 against Carlsen to try 7...a5:

Perhaps Dubov will show his idea later, but as far as I can see Carlsen closed the line in this blitz game.

Rossolimo/Moscow hybrid: 4.0-0 Bd7 5.Re1 [B51]

In Carlsen, M - Aronian, L, Aronian essayed the remarkable 5...e5 6.c3 g5?!:

The fact that White hasn’t played h3 makes this advance look pretty dubious and, despite some old correspondence games (where Black also did badly), the idea looks quite unplayable. Carlsen in rapid is the rough equivalent of a 2650/2700 at a classical time control, and he refuted the line in model fashion.

Delayed Alapin: 2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 Nf6 4.Bc4 [B50]

I’d never seen this line before, but Czech GM Vojtech Plat plays it all the time. In Plat, V - Borhy, M, Black essayed the critical (and good) 4...Nxe4:

After 5.Qa4+ Nc6 6.Bxf7+ Kxf7 7.Qxe4 Black had no complaints from the opening.

Till next time, Sam

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