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It's been a great summer of chess, and this month we have games from the Poikovsky, Biel, Mainz and the ongoing Tal Memorial in Moscow. As is so often the case, the Sveshnikov and Najdorf rather dominate!

Download PGN of August '08 Open Sicilian games

The Sveshnikov: 9 Nd5

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 Ndb5 d6 7 Bg5 a6 8 Na3 b5 9 Nd5 remains the choice of the elite. We begin with Volokitin - Shirov in which White meets 9...Be7 10 Bxf6 Bxf6 11 c3 Bg5 with Anand's 12 Nc2 0-0 13 a4 bxa4 14 Rxa4 a5 15 Bc4 Rb8 16 b3 Kh8 17 Nce3 g6 18 Qe2. Shirov came well prepared, though, and his novelty 18...f5 19 h4 Bxe3 20 Qxe3 f4! appears to give Black a satisfactory game:

Many players continue to prefer the less ambitious approach which is 11 c4. Even in Morozevich - Shirov sparks failed to fly and this game is just another example that the line 11...b4 12 Nc2 a5 13 g3 0-0 is fine for Black.

The Sveshnikov: 9 Bxf6 gxf6 10 Nd5

At all levels below 2700 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 Ndb5 d6 7 Bg5 a6 8 Na3 b5 9 Bxf6 gxf6 10 Nd5 is still seen a fair amount. We round up a number of developments after 10...f5 in Istratescu - Moiseenko, which mainly features the critical piece sacrifice 11 Bd3 Be6 12 c3 Bg7 13 Nxb5!? axb5 14 Bxb5 Bd7 15 exf5 0-0:

Surprisingly Istratescu chose 16 Qg4 at this point when Black obtained a good game after the novelty 16...Kh8!, but 16 0-0 remains a superior option.

A popular positional alternative is 12 0-0 Bxd5 13 exd5 Ne7 and here we examine 14 Qh5 as well as White's other approaches in Shabalov - Moiseenko.

The Scheveningen: Classical Variation

The old 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6 6 Be2 Be7 7 Be3 Nc6 8 0-0 0-0 9 f4 a6 10 Qe1 received a fairly-rare outing in Kamsky - Mamedyarov. Black responded actively with 10...Nxd4 11 Bxd4 b5 12 a3 Bb7 13 Qg3 g6 14 Bf3 a5!? and this just seems to give him a good game:

The Najdorf: Rare Approaches

Back at this year's Melody Amber, both Carlsen and Karjakin scored striking wins with 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 h3. Their main idea was to meet 6...e6 7 g4 b5 with 8 Bg2 Bb7 9 0-0!?:

The fairly direct idea is to sacrifice a knight on d5. In Carlsen - Dominguez Black introduced the novelty 9...Nc6!? and after 10 Nxc6 Bxc6 11 Re1 Nd7! 12 Nd5! Bb7 a sharp and rather unclear position was quickly reached.

The Najdorf: 6 Bg5

We begin by examining the 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bg5 e6 7 f4 Qc7 variation. I'm grateful to Goh Wei Ming for annotating the game Wei Ming-Galyas, in which he makes a case for the natural 8 Bd3. That is quite tricky, but Black should be OK in my view. I've also embedded a critical correspondence game in the notes - my thanks to Michael Freeman for that.

We can also return to that Poisoned Pawn variation, namely 7...Qb6 8 Qd2 Qxb2 9 Rb1 Qa3 10 e5!? h6 11 Bh4 dxe5 12 fxe5 Nfd7 13 Ne4 Qxa2 14 Rd1 Qd5 15 Qe3:

There have been developments after Najer's 15...Bc5, which will we examine, but our main game Najer (!) - Nepomniachtchi features the main line, 15...Qxe5 16 Be2 Bc5 17 Bg3 Bxd4 18 Rxd4 Qa5+ 19 Rd2 0-0 20 Bd6 Nc6, and after 21 0-0 f5 22 Bxf8 Nxf8 23 Nd6 the young Russian star introduced a decent novelty: 23...Ne5!?:

Finally, it's time to hand back to Goh Wei Ming for an instructive outing in the old main line - Wei Ming-Sandy.

Not a bad month for Black...let's hope his success with the Sicilian continues in the final rounds of the Tal Memorial!

Until next month, Richard


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