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Hi folks,
I’m a different Irish IM to the one you were expecting, but I’ll be stepping in to update the column instead of Sam for the moment. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to write for ChessPub as it’s given me so much help over the years. I’ve played Anti-Sicilians for both colours for my entire chess career and I’m hoping to add something of value to theory with these updates.

Download PGN of May ’22 Anti-Sicilian games

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c3-Sicilian: 2...d5 3 exd5 Qxd5 4 d4 Nc6 5 Nf3 Nf6!? [B22]

We’ll start off this update by taking a look at the game Gledura, B - Jones, G, Black played a relatively uncommon line which appears to be quite sound, developing both Knights immediately:

The critical approach is to capture on c5 straight away with 6 dxc5, but after 6...Qxd1+ 7 Kxd1 and now 7...Bf5!?, I believe Black gets full compensation for the pawn in every line. In the game, White played 6 Na3?! which Gawain could have punished by playing 6...Bg4! followed by castling Queenside. Instead, he elected to transpose into another main variation with 6...Bf5, so I’ve updated the analysis on that line too. The game was very topsy-turvy and ultimately White missed a tactical detail which turned a win into a loss. The opening in general looks pretty good for Black, however.

c3-Sicilian: 2...d5 3 exd5 Nf6!? 4 Bb5+ [B22]

Our next game features the World Champion trying out a gambit idea that’s been around for a good while. It’s been checked a few times in the archives but not since 2017, so I felt it was worth updating. In Grandelius, N - Carlsen, M, I’ve taken a look at four alternatives for White on move four in addition to Grandelius’ 4 Bb5+ (including the other critical try, 4 Qa4+).

Carlsen recaptured with the Queen on d7, but I actually prefer capturing with the Bishop, which seems ok for Black. Grandelius’ 7 d4?! was not the most precise and after 7...e6! Carlsen equalised immediately and was soon much better. The rest of the game was up and down until a final blunder from Grandelius allowed Carlsen to prevail. As for the opening, I think the gambit is more or less sound and it remains a very useful surprise weapon.

Grand Prix Attack: 2 Nc3 d6 3 f4 Nc6 4 Nf3 g6 5 Bb5 Bd7 [B23]

In Kadric, D - Atanasov, A, White went for a dangerous line involving Queenside castling that Sam took a look at a few months back, namely 6 d3 Bg7 7 Bc4 Na5:

and now 8 Bd2!?, which continues to score well. In addition to this line, I’ve also checked 6 Bc4 Bg7 7 0-0 and Black’s alternatives to 7...Na5 in the main game. There remains a lot of fresh territory to explore here with many interesting and double-edged positions.

Rossolimo Variation: 3...Nd4 4 Nf3 e6 5 0-0 a6 6 Bd3 Nc6 7 Nd5!? [B30]

The first Rossolimo game w’ll look at this month is Rapport, R - Shevchenko, K from the recently concluded Superbet Blitz. The game itself wasn’t of great quality but it gives us an opportunity to take a look at a topical pseudo-piece sacrifice that was recently recommended by Gawain Jones in his “1 e4 Coffeehouse Repertoire” for Quality Chess. I’ve given a detailed survey of all of Black’s alternatives on move seven and indicated several novelties in addition to current practice and Gawain’s analysis. In the game itself, Shevchenko chose 7...g6, which was also Gawain’s mainline in his book:

Rapport elected to omit Gawain’s recommended 8 Re1 in favour of the immediate 8 c3. However, he retreated the Knight prematurely from d5, allowing Black to achieve the ...d7-d5 break and take over the initiative. He fought back well to equalise, went badly wrong in the middle of a tactical sequence, and was extremely lucky to draw in the end. Such is blitz! However, the opening remains fresh, interesting and relatively unexplored.

Rossolimo: 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Nf3 g6 4 Bb5 Bg7 5 0-0 [B31]

Next up is a high-level test of a line that I think is somewhat under-rated for White against the 3...g6 Rossolimo, namely 4 Nc3. In Adams, M - Navara, D from the Sigeman and Co all-play-all in Malmo, Navara chose 5...Nd4 and I’ve also checked some other alternatives in the notes. Mickey responded with 6 Ba4 which was answered by 6...Qa5:

Now White has another promising option in addition to Mickey’s 7 Bb3, namely 7 Rb1!? which I’ve analysed extensively. I think I would prefer this to Mickey’s choice even though both of these moves are quite promising for White. The structure that arises after ...Nd4xb3, c2xb3 and a subsequent d2-d4, c5xd4, Nxd4 is more pleasant for White, but it’s difficult to make real progress. In the game, Navara defended well and equalised before embarking a very risky plan to open up the Kingside. White then had chances for an advantage but Black was able to soak up the pressure and this hard-fought game went all the way to bare Kings before a draw was agreed. The opening looks quite promising for White and deserves more tests.

Rossolimo: 3...e5 4 0-0 Bd6 5 d4!? [B30]

We’ll take another look at one of the biggest novelties of 2020, Grischuk’s 5 d4 idea in this topical line of the Rossolimo. In Demchenko, A - Ibarra Jerez, JC, Black captured on d4 with the Knight and I’ve checked the alternative 5...exd4 in the notes (it often transposes into lines beginning with 5 c3). After 5...Nxd4:

I think the move 6 Bc4!? Deserves serious attention. Demchenko chose the natural 6 Nxd4 cxd4 7 c3 but his subsequent play was not very convincing. However, after a couple of mistakes by Black on moves fifteen and sixteen, he managed to drum up a huge attack with opposite-coloured Bishops and successfully (for the most part!) kept a lid on Black’s counterplay to win with another direct attack in the endgame. 5 d4 is here to stay!

Rossolimo: 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 e6 4 Bxc6 bxc6 5 b3!? [B30]

In the game Esipenko, A - Moiseenko, A from the Bundesliga, White went for a line that was one of the main battlegrounds in the Anand - Gelfand World Championship Match in 2012. Black chose 5...d6 and after the critical 6 e5!:

he went for a new move for our site, namely 6...f6!? The arising positions are always complex and difficult to judge, but I do tend to prefer White’s better structure to Black’s Bishops. I’ve also updated the analysis of 6...dxe5 and taken a fresh look at some of Black’s alternatives on move five. In the game itself, Black missed some chances to gain counterplay (including an incredible resource on move twelve) and White managed to win with a direct Kingside attack.

Hungarian Variation: 2 Nf3 d6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 d4 cxd4 5 Qxd4 Nc6 6 Qd3!? [B53]

Finally, we’ll take a look at some recent games of American GM Jeffrey Xiong playing this early Qd1xd4-d3 idea from the White side in various positions.

Our main game is Xiong, J - Yilmaz, M where Black reacted with the sensible 6...g6. White’s idea is to continue with 7 Nd5 Bg7 8 c3!? followed by an early Bc1-g5. White is far from forcing an edge with this approach, but it could be a very useful surprise weapon. White was pressing for the entire game but Black managed to hold on in the end.

I hope you enjoy the update. See you next month!


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