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Hey peeps. There have been lots of interesting new ideas essayed in some of the more obscure Antis' sidelines of late, which as far as I'm concerned is good news. It's nice to see the odd 2700 breathing some life back into some of my old quirky favourites - sometimes successfully, sometimes dubiously, but always providing decent entertainment.

Download PGN of November '13 Anti-Sicilian games

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2 b3, 3...d5 [B20]

Kramnik kicks us off in Game 1, showing that his 2.b3 Sicilian in the World Cup wasn't a one-off. Inarkiev is a very strong grandmaster, but I'm not sure he will be keen to repeat his opening choice.

From the diagram, Black's 4...d5 really doesn't seem to be the best way to meet the queenside fianchetto, which, I'm starting to think, has a little more bite to it than modern theory tells us.

Morra Gambit ...e6 and ...a6 [B21]

Berg - Miezis saw a rare Morra Gambit clash between two grandmasters. To be honest, I have a lot of respect for the Morra (at least compared to other grandmasters), but seeing as it can be declined into a 2.c3 Sicilian anyway, I've never seen any reason to push the d-pawn over the c-pawn on move two. Still, if you are prepared to put a bit more time into learning the gambit, it may well be worth it for when Black accepts - see Esserman's fantastic new book for further info.

In the diagram, after playing one of the standard black defences, Miezis goes his own way with the wacky 9...g5!?. White soon sacrifices a piece and the ensuing fight is incredibly complex, but Black prevails in the end.

2.c3 Sicilian 2...d5, 5...Bf5 [B22]

Only one 2.c3 game this month - and double apologies, because it's my own! I faced the topical 2...d5/5...Bf5 line when playing Sue Maroroa, Gawain Jones' wife. I quickly tried to get out of her/his preparation by heading for an endgame in the diagram:

but it wasn't particularly ambitious. However, as annoying as the line is for aggressive proponents of the white pieces, it has lost a lot of its bite now that the tricks are well known, and White has a couple of ways to push for a small edge.

Rossolimo/Moscow Hybrid ...d6 and ...Nc6 [B51]

In general, White seems to be in good stead in this variation. Elite GM Alekseev decided to try a sideline against an opponent 500 points his inferior in Belenkaya - Alekseev, but the youngster quickly made him doubt this decision. With an extremely aggressive response, she quickly took over the initiative with a flurry of pawn launches:

and achieved a winning position, though the GM managed to swindle a draw.

Rossolimo 3...e6 4 0-0 Nge7 5 d4!? [B30]

Caruana - Gelfand and Caruana - Radjabov saw two recent top level examples of Caruana's new pet line against 3...e6, with 5.d4:

ChessPub has looked at almost every white move instead of this, but it certainly contains a great deal of venom if White is prepared to play Maroczy-type structures. So far, at least, it's working out for Caruana!

Rossolimo 3...g6 4 0-0, 6 b4!? [B31]

Rapport - Granda Zuniga saw the talented young Hungarian star try out a rare gambit against 3...g6:

Actually, 6.b4 has been around since the sixties, but has been largely ignored as Black worked out how to defend, up until the past couple of years. Some new ideas for White seem to have breathed fresh life into the sacrifice, and indeed from what I can tell, it's currently looking very promising.

Anti-Sveshnikov 3...e5 4.Bc4 [B30]

Finally, speaking of rare sacrifices, Shanava - Kotronias features a real beauty. In the 3...e5 4.Bc4 variation, it's hard to imagine anyone behind the white pieces playing 6.Ng5 without following it up with 7.f4, but the game saw something different. After 7.0-0 h6 White then hit out with 8.f4!, a very dangerous idea:

Fortunately for us spectators, Kotronias, a theoretician of principle, isn't one to shy away from a challenge, and we get to witness a fantastic struggle in true King's-Gambit-romantic fashion. And joy aside, I think the gambit's got a lot of promise.

Til next month, Dave

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