ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Hi folks,
White scores very heavily this month, but as usual, the score doesn’t tell the full story. However, many of these lines can be difficult for Black to handle in practice, and precise theoretical knowledge is required. Hopefully this update will go some way towards outlining the correct paths for Black in these instances.

Download PGN of October ’22 Anti-Sicilian games

>> Previous Update >>

c3-Sicilian: 2...d5 3 exd5 Qxd5 4 d4 g6 5 Nf3 Bg7 6 Nbd2!? [B22]

The game Stefansson, V - Wadsworth, M is a fascinating encounter from the 26th HIT Open in Nova Gorica. Both players followed my analysis from the July update for several moves:

White deviated from 12 Bb3 with 12 Re1, which should lead to similar play. Black reacted with the inaccurate 12...Nbd7? and White was soon able to pick up the e-pawn. White sacrificed a piece and developed a very strong attack. However,

he got a little carried away with 19 Qxf7+?!, which gave Black enough resources to defend. Black in turn unnecessarily sacrificed his Queen on move twenty-two, leaving White with a winning advantage yet again. White sacrificed a piece later on, misjudging the very unbalanced ending which arose, and after many further twists and turns, was lucky to escape to an ending with a pawn versus two Knights which was unwinnable for Black. A tremendous struggle overall, and this line with 6 Nbd2!? remains a stern test of Black’s opening concept.

Grand Prix Attack: 2 Nc3 d6 3 f4 g6 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 Bb5+ Bd7 6 Bc4!? [B23]

The game Kosteniuk, A - Wagner, D from the recent Women’s Grand Prix in Astana featured a line that I checked back in the May update:

Black played 8...Nge7?!, which isn’t the best response (see the notes for a summary of Black’s alternatives), and her further novelty on move ten was not an improvement over the variation I gave back in May. In fact, Kosteniuk played superbly and built up an overwhelming advantage, only to play a string of errors/inaccuracies from moves twenty to twenty-two, letting Black back into the game. A further blunder on move twenty-six left her clearly worse in the ending, and Black showed excellent technique in converting her advantage. This line requires precise defence from Black, however, and checking my analysis from the May update is still a good place to start!

Rossolimo Variation: 3 Bb5 e6 4 0-0 Nge7 5 Re1 Ng6 [B30]

Our next game features an ever-topical line of the Rossolimo, with Black playing yet another reasonable alternative on move five:

5...Ng6, featured in the game Boruchkovsky, A - Shenglia, D from the recently-concluded European Club Cup, has been seen before in the archives, and Sam also even checked White’s response in this game quite recently: 6 c3 d5 7 h4!? This certainly has a very modern feel to it! Black captured on e4 and White played a novelty on move nine,

namely, 9 d4?! I believe 9 h5! to be much stronger, and this is covered in the notes. The rest of the game is quite instructive from a strategic point of view, as both sides appear to underestimate the significance of White achieving h5-h6, and Black being forced to respond with ...g7-g6. Eventually, White sacrificed the exchange, and despite a valiant defensive effort, Black eventually played too ambitiously and was duly punished. This line deserves more tests (which I’m sure we’ll see soon!)

Rossolimo Variation: 3 Bb5 e6 4 0-0 Nge7 5 d4 cxd4 6 Nxd4 Ng6 [B30]

The game Fedorchuk, S - Gukesh, D, also from the ECC, featured another topical Rossolimo line involving ...Ne7-g6 in the following position:

We’ve covered this numerous times in the archives, and I’ve updated the analysis and references in this game. In the notes, I’ve also checked another recent Gukesh encounter from the Black side, against Volokitin, who chose 7 Be3 Be7 8 c3!?, which is the latest wrinkle in this line. Fedorchuk went for more standard play with 7 Be2 Be7 8 c4, and in the following position, he played a novelty:

10 Ndb5!? This attempt to gain the two Bishops by invading on d6 and capturing on c8 shouldn’t lead to any edge for White, but Fedorchuk soon managed to reduce the Indian super-talent to passivity and eventually picked up Black’s backward d-pawn. In general, this whole line appears to be somewhat more pleasant for White, but there remains much to be discovered.

Delayed Queenside Fianchetto: 2 Nf3 e6 3 b3 Nc6 4 Bb2 a6 5 c4 [B40]

b2-b3 in all its guises has grown in popularity in recent years, and even though this particular line has been around for quite a while at this stage, there remains plenty of unexplored territory. This variation is a speciality of Hungarian GM Zoltan Varga, who essayed it in the ECC in Varga, Z - Bogner, S:

White went for 6 g3, which is the most popular continuation. After 6...Nf6, he retained maximum flexibility by playing 7 Qe2, whilst the immediate 7 e5!? is also worthy of attention. However, his subsequent 10 g4?! looked a bit dubious, even though he has tested it before against high-level opposition. Black was doing well until a blunder on move fifteen left him in a very difficult position, which Varga converted in instructive fashion. I’ve checked many alternative plans for both sides in the notes. There are plenty of possibilities left to be discovered in this line.

Moscow Variation: 3 Bb5+ Nd7 4 a4!? Ngf6 5 Nc3 g6 [B51]

Next, we’ll take another look at a recommendation from So’s 1 e4 Chessable course for White which we covered in the July update:

This time, the theme of our investigation is the plan involving ...a7-a6 and ...Nd7-b8 against various different setups from White. We’ll take the game Niemann, H - Duda, J from the Julius Baer Cup as our primary example, but this idea has been tested several times recently in different positions, which I’ve collected and analysed in the notes. Duda went wrong on move ten in response to White’s typical e4-e5 break, and he would have been better served following my recommendation of 10...Ne8 from the July update. White achieved a huge advantage, which he was well on the road to converting, before a slip on move forty gave Black a chance to equalise. Having missed this chance, there was no other opportunity to recover for Black and he duly lost. In general, I still think ...b7-b5 is a more reliable option than Black’s time-consuming Knight redeployment, but it’s certainly an interesting concept.

Moscow Variation: 3 Bb5+ Nd7 4 Ba4 Ngf6 5 0-0! Nxe4?! [B51]

Our next game features a very risky line for Black that Sam has covered in the past. Omidi, A - Neverov, V from the inaugural Bikaner Open featured a risky pawn grab on move five from Black, resulting in the following position:

7...cxd4 seems to be the best shot for Black and Sam analysed this previously. I’ve taken a look at all of Black’s alternatives in the notes. The position is exceptionally dangerous for Black. If we fast forward to move twelve,

White uncorked the spectacular 12 Nc6?! This eventually worked out well in the game, but White could have achieved the same position with his Queen’s Knight developed on c3 instead of the pawn on c5 if he had played more accurately on the previous move. This would have been crushing for White, but in the version that occurred in the game, Black had a defensive idea which would have been winning for him. The advantage changed hands a couple of times before White eventually won a pawn in the endgame and converted it smoothly after that. 5...Nxe4?! is not to be recommended at all!

Prins Variation: 5 f3 e5 6 Nb3 d5 [B54]

Finally, we’ll take a look at a line which borders on Open Sicilian territory. In the game Ivanchuk, V - Duda, J from the Julius Baer Cup, the Ukrainian legend essayed a line that he’s quite fond of,

namely, 5 f3. Black continued with 5...e5 6 Nb3 d5 (I also provide a brief update on 6...Be6 in the notes), which is considered to be the cleanest theoretical equaliser. The only ambitious move for White is 7 Bg5 and now Black has a couple of choices. The Polish star went for the most solid move, 7...Be6, but 7...d4!? is an ambitious alternative that has recently been recommended by Cheparinov in his Najdorf repertoire for Chessable. This can lead to absolutely wild complications, and I’ve delved deeply into these in the notes. In general, this is an even bigger theoretical challenge for White than Duda’s choice, and White needs to be prepared to grab material and defend against a fierce attack in some of the critical lines. In the main game, I’ve taken a look at the theoretical alternatives for both sides up to move fifteen, where Duda took a step in the wrong direction. The game was far from error-free, but White made the second-last mistake and converted smoothly after that. In general, this line leads to interesting play and both sides have various options that are worth exploring.

Until next month, David

>> Previous Update >>

Please post you queries on the Anti-Sicilians Forum, or subscribers can write to me at if you have any questions or queries.