ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Many players reach a stage in their evolution where it becomes necessary to play an occasional c3-Sicilian, or even more than that. After years promising this wouldn’t happen to me, I find myself not only playing it but even finding novelties in it. Elsewhere, we look at the superstrong Qatar Masters.

Download PGN of September ’23 Anti-Sicilian games

>> Previous Update >>

2 c3 Sicilian, delayed d2-d4, 5.Bc4 Nb6 6.Bb3 c4 7.Bc2 Qc7 8.0-0 [B22]

Back to a theoretical debate which I thought had been settled, but turns out to be a little more complicated than that. Play continues 5...Nb6 6.Bb3 c4 7.Bc2 Qc7 (all but committing to accept a very dangerous pawn) 8.0-0 Nxe5 9.Nxe5 Qxe5 10.Re1 Qc7 11.a4 e6:

In the first game Chen, Q - Karthikeyan, M (the Black player went on to beat Carlsen in the same event!) White pushed 12.a5, which I suspect is not most accurate, but Black has to be very cold-blooded in grabbing this pawn at exactly the right moment. The early middlegame was extremely topsy-turvy and the endgame also not without its adventures.

In the second game Sadhwani, R - Korobov, A White chose the tried and tested 12.d3 cxd3 13.Qxd3:

Here I give some notes on the superior 13...Be7, before moving on to the game move 13...Nc4, which is extremely natural but, as we shall see, almost losing already.

Rossolimo with 3...g6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.d4 Bg7 [B31]

An absolute pleasure to annotate was this recent game from the Qatar Masters, Sarin, N - Fawzy, A. The crucial moment seems to arise after 9.Re1:

Here I think Black needs to play either the normal 9...Nf6, or the creative 9...a5 10.Nb3 Qb6 11.a4 and now 11...Nh6!? to maintain equality.

Delayed Alapin with 2.Nf3 e6 3.c3 d5 4.e5 d4 [B40]

Another double-header and this time a very fashionable one, since the world top-100 seem to be attracted to this line in droves with White. Looking through the results (at least of the opening battles) it’s easy to see why, but a forgettable game for White recently was Anton Guijarro, D - Gadimbayli, A. That continued 5.d3 Nc6 6.g3 Nge7 7.Bg2:

Black opted for the mature 7...dxc3 8.bxc3 b6 9.0-0 Bb7 (wisely eschewing 9...Ba6) and for a while followed the correct strategy of tying White down to the d3-pawn, before an exchange of tactical mistakes left them unexpectedly winning.

Another solid neutralisation of this line against substantially higher-rated opposition was Giri, A - Mittal, A. There Black played 7...Ng6 8.Qe2 Qc7 (trying to highlight White’s problems with the e5-pawn) and White responded with the testing 9.Na3:

It is probably unwise to take on e5, and after some thought Black chose the correct 9...Bd7. White has some tries, but none especially successful; I don’t expect this fashion to continue long.

Delayed Alapin/French with 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 e6 4.d4 d5 [B22/C09]

Time for my own outing with the Alapin and while it was a successful one, I didn’t get a chance to execute the idea I had in mind and which I now share with the readers. In Fernandez, D - Nestorovic, N I went for 5.exd5:

My opponent chose 5...exd5 and we played a typical IQP game with a thematic kingside counterattack for Black, but it is also worth checking the ideas starting with 5...Qxd5 6.Bd3 in the notes.

Moscow Variation with 3...Nc6 4.0-0 Bd7 5.Re1 Nf6 [B51]

Finally, another game from the Qatar Masters. In Vokhidov, S - Nakamura, H White went down the main line before choosing 8.h3 rather than 8.d4 (I give my updated thoughts on the latter in the notes.) Having done so, the natural moves 8...Bxf3 9.Qxf3 e6 10.Na3 Be7 11.Nc2 0-0 precipitated another critical opening decision for White:

My opinion is that 12.Qd1, followed potentially even by 13.g3 before initiating central action, was a better bet for an advantage compared to the game’s 12.d4.

Until next time, Daniel

>> 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.