2 c3 [B22]
Shabanov - Bocharov features 8...b6:
A surprisingly rare move, but it is not obvious to me that White can punish Black directly so this seems like a viable approach.
A more conventional line is covered in Neubauer - Al Modhiaki where I give some thoughts on a fairly critical pawn sacrifice in the 2...d5 line
Can blitz games have theoretical value? I think so, especially when played by players over 2700, as was the case here. Grischuk shows that after 3.Bb5 e6 4.c3!? might be the way forward for White:
I have previously seen Short play this move, but it is not nearly as popular as 4.0-0 or 4.Bxc6. However, I suspect this may be about to change because although Black has many options, there is no single line that is obviously best, and Black may have to accept a complex IQP position, as the notes to the following two games suggest: Grischuk - Carlsen and Grischuk - Radjabov.
I wasn't sure whether to make the following game public, because it was played in India and never reached TWIC. However, I felt it was unlikely that I would gain anything by keeping it secret, and my duty here is to be as honest as possible about Anti-Sicilians so I hope it has some value for subscribers, see Rowson - Ramesh.
Quillan - Conquest is not particularly important theoretically, but for anybody wanting to play 3...Nf6 against the Rossolimo, it is worth getting some feel for the structures where White plays e5 and takes on c6, which is what happens here.
2 Na3 [B20]
2.Na3!? is still quite trendy, and played by several strong GMs. White didn't get much from the opening in Malakhov - Vorobiov, but I suggest a few places where he might have improved his play.
Closed Sicilian [B23]
Finally, I know I don't say much about the Closed Sicilian, so the following game in the 2...e6 and 3...d5 line goes some small way towards correcting that:
I was very impressed by White's thematic play in Chuprov - Tsigelnitskiy, and the way he took advantage of a slight inaccuracy by his opponent in the opening.
That's all for now. I hope you have been enjoying the Kramnik-Topalov match. Let's hope they find a way to continue! Jonathan