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Hi all,
This month’s update draws heavily on the Batumi Olympiad, where Anti-Sicilians were essayed with White by many players from the world’s elite.

Download PGN of October ’18 Anti-Sicilian games

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Rossolimo, Move-Order Tricks 4...Qc7 5.0-0 e6 [B30]

Karjakin, S - Cordova, E was a tough battle in the line after 4...Qc7 5.0-0 e6 6.Re1 Ng4 7.Bxc6 bxc6. Karjakin avoided the most ambitious 8.e5, preferring 8.d3:

Black was fine out of the opening and was only outplayed around the time control.

Move-Order Tricks 4...e5 [B30]

Anand, V - Delgado Ramirez, N featured a quirky line: 4...e5 5.Bxc6 dxc6 6.Nxe5 Nxe4 7.Nxe4 Qd4. Anand repeated the 8.Qe2 Qxe5 9.f4!:

which he had used against Kramnik in Monte Carlo in the early 2000’s and quickly obtained a crushing position. This line doesn’t look playable for Black.

Rossolimo 3...g6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.d3 Bg7 6.h3 Nf6 7.Nc3 0-0 [B31]

In Caruana, F - Gelfand, B, Caruana opted for the immediate 8.0-0, reaching an interesting position after 8...Ne8 9.Be3 b6 10.e5!:

Gelfand played in a principled way, taking on e5 and sacrificing an exchange on f3, but Caruana prevailed in a complex battle.

Moscow 3...Nd7 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 [B51]

This trendy line was essayed in Vachier Lagrave, M - Saric, I where, after 5...a6 6.c4 g6 7.Nc3 Bg7 White opted for the ambitious 8.h3, aiming to play d4:

Saric has been playing very well recently and defended excellently, sacrificing a pawn for good counterplay on the queenside.

In Hakobyan, A - Donchenko, A, we consider another major defensive setup with 5...g6 6.Re1 Bg7 7.c3 0-0 8.d4:

White won an excellent game but I’ve identified several improvements for Black.

Moscow Variation 3...Nd7 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nc3 cxd4 6.Qxd4 e5 7.Qd3 h6 [B51]

Sam Shankland has been in the zone for about a year now, and in Shankland, S - Brkic, A he won an excellent game essaying the rare 8.a4:

Black was in big trouble from the opening, but could have obtained a reasonable position at several moments.

Zaitsev Variation 4...Nc6 5.Qe3 [B53]

A couple of good wins by strong GMs in this system, which has become increasingly popular since Magnus relied on it in his World Championship tiebreak with Karjakin.

Harikrishna, P - Preotu, R featured 4...Nc6 5.Qe3 Nf6 6.Be2:

a line which has been tried by several strong GMs (including Harikrishna in an earlier game against Navara). Black had several interesting options in the opening (some suggested by Ganguly in his excellent Olympiad coverage), but in the game White quickly obtained an overwhelming advantage.

Zaitsev Variation 4...a6 5.h3 [B53]

After 4...a6 5.h3 Nc6 6.Qe3 g6 7.Be2 Bg7 8.0-0 Nf6 9.c4 0-0 10.Nc3, in Navara, D - Johnson, J the direct 10...Ne8 11.b3 e5? 12.Rd1 Nd4? was elegantly refuted by 13.Nxd4! exd4 14.Rxd4 Bxd4 15.Qxd4:

It might not be immediately obvious (at least, it wasn’t to me), but this is just winning for White.

Till next time, Sam

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