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Quite a few interesting novelties and rare lines this month. Several games discuss systems developed by Boris Gelfand, who has done the most over the past few years for Black's cause against the Anti-Sicilians.

Download PGN of November ’16 Anti-Sicilian games

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2.c3 Sicilian 2...Nf6 Delayed d4, 7...Qc7 8.0-0!? [B22]

Zelbel, P - Nijboer, F features one of several enterprising pawn sacrifices White can choose after 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bc4 Nb6 6.Bb3 c4 7.Bc2 Qc7, namely 8.0-0!?:

Nijboer reacts very poorly and gets crushed, but even against Black's best defences I like White's compensation.

2 c3 Sicilian 2...d5 Main line 6 Bd3 [B22]

In Pap, M - Markus, R we see a rare move in a topical variation, 8...b6!?:

I like Pap's reaction with 9.c4, but thereafter White needs to play energetically to retain hopes of an advantage.

2.c3 Sicilian 2...d5, 5...Bg4 6.Be2 old Mainline [B22]

In Baklan, V - Oparin, G , Oparin rejects the well tested 11...Qd6 for the highly unusual 11...Qd7?!. This works out very badly and he loses a pawn for insufficient compensation.

Rossolimo: 3...g6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.0-0 Bg7 6.Re1 Nh6 7.c3 0-0 [B31]

Anand, V - Gelfand, B is the latest heavyweight battle in the 4...bxc6 line (which, as Anand noted, is "exploding" right now), and Gelfand's sacrifice with which he enjoyed such success against Inarkiev. Anand showed not just a novelty but an entirely new approach with 15.Ne4!?, aiming for a very advantageous position with opposite coloured bishops:

He showed chess of the highest class, winning convincingly against an out-of-form Gelfand, although Boris has already done some repair work on his gambit, drawing easily with Svidler in the same tournament (as shown in the notes).

Quesada Perez, Y - Kuzubov, Y is another test for Caruana's 11.Na3 novelty (which he deployed against Eljanov).

Rather than trying to round up the e6-pawn, Kuzubov chose a much better plan of central counterplay with ...Rfd8 and ...d5, easily gaining equality. I have little doubt that this is the way Black should handle this line.

Since White is facing serious challenges demonstrating an advantage after 8.h3, it is interesting to consider the direct 8.d4. In Antipov, M - Ganguly, S, after a logical sequence, Antipov tested the aggressive 11.e6:

He went on to win an excellent game, but Black can demonstrate good counterplay in several ways.

Anti-Sveshnikov: 3.Nc3 e5, 5...Nf6 6.0-0 0-0 7.Ng5 [B30]

So, W - Harika, D features another line developed by Boris Gelfand, the interesting 9...Bd6!?:

Harika shows excellent preparation and rapidly gains the better position against one of the strongest and best-prepared players in the world.

Rossolimo 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Variation [B23]

In Hou, Y - Hemant, S Black goes for a bad variation, 3...g6?! 4.Bxc6 dxc6:

White has an improved Rossolimo and Hou Yifan demonstrates several thematic attacking ideas (being several tempi up on known positions).

Till next time, Sam

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