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Nepo Special!
This month's column features no less than four games by Russian GM Ian Nepomniatchtchi, who we are usually used to seeing on the white side of our favourite Antis. Not this time around, however; we have four games with Nepo having the black pieces, including three games where he faced anti-Sicilians by Hikaru in their mini-match in Baku.

Download PGN of October '15 Anti-Sicilian games

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Wing Gambit 3 a3 d5 [B20]

First, however, a brief detour into one of my favourite offbeat gambits: the mighty Wing!

It really deserves a little more respect in my opinion, but I'm sure many of my GM colleagues would disagree with me here. Still, in Come - Riff, White had the chance to get a nice advantage against his 2500+ opponent in one of the main lines.

2.c3 Sicilian 2...Nf6 delayed d4, 6...d5 [B22]

Okay, now into the 'real' stuff. First, in the old main line after 2...Nf6, Nakamura tried 8.Na3!? twice in his match with Nepo:

I like the early knight jump, but like all of the options for White in this variation, Black should be able to equalize with best play. The problem for Black is really being able to remember the right responses against each of White's (many!) options - which include 8.Na3, 9.Na3 and, yes, 10.Na3! Anyway, after 8...Be6 Naka mixed it up in the tie-break by trying out both 9.0-0 (Nakamura - Nepomniatchtchi) and 9.d4 (Nakamura - Nepomniatchtchi); my preference is for the latter.

2.c3 Sicilian 2...Nf6 ...e6/...d6 system 7.a3 [B22]

Nygren - Cramling then investigates an unusual option for Black in the ...e6/d6 variation if White tries the old main line with 7.a3 Nc6 8.Bd3. Perhaps for a change, Black can actually get away with a kingside fianchetto here:

or at least Pia believes so - and I tend to agree!

Grand Prix Attack 5.Bc4 [B51]

Then, for yet another change, we take a look at a good old fashioned Bc4 Grand Prix. In Najer - Riazantsev, Black kindly gives White everything he could ask for, by slowly pushing ...d7-d6-d5:

This is really far too compliant. It leads almost by force into a long tactical sequence in which White emerges with a slight advantage as well as dangerous attacking chances. Najer quickly gains a winning advantage without too many problems, only to throw it away in time trouble.

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

Finally, we take a little journey into 3.Bb5+ Nd7 territory. Naka and Nepo kick us off again.

In one of the main battle grounds after 4.0-0 a6 5.Bd3, Nakamura tried 8.Re1 in our third (!) Nakamura - Nepomniatchtchi (I'm getting used to the spelling now!), and got a very nice bind on the queenside. I think this is the way to go for White in this line.

I'm less impressed by 8.Qe2, a Kobalia speciality that he tried out against - you guessed it - Nepomniatchtchi!

Even though I'm somewhat skeptical of this approach, I have to admit that Kobalia time and again gets a small edge with the white pieces in this variation, and this game is no exception, see Kobalia - Nepomniatchtchi.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.d4 [B51]

Our final game is more of a refresher than anything else. In Duda - Gordievsky, the young Polish GM picked up a cheap point on his way to the World Junior title by employing a well-known shot:

Here 7.Rb1!! gives White a clear advantage, which Duda had no problems converting. Worth remembering, if you haven't seen this before!

Til next month, Dave

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