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As ever in Europe it's been a busy summer of chess. Plenty of exciting Sicilians have been played from Biel to Torquay to Mainz, and I've tried to supply some of the most lively struggles this month.

Download PGN of August '09 Open Sicilian games

2...Nc6 & 4...d5

The solid, non-theoretical variation 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 d5!? remains without a proper name, but it has been mentioned that I didn't cover this unlike various other Dangerous Weapons lines in the last update.

While most Sicilian players are after quite an unbalanced middlegame, I'm amazed that this line hasn't caught on more with positional types. White appears to have a small edge at best, and one doesn't need to memorize many lines to play this way as Black. A legendary Sicilian killer took on 4...d5 in Kotronias - Todorov, but Black equalized and drew without too many difficulties.

The Sveshnikov: 9 Bxf6

The concept of sacrificing on b5 in the Chelyabinsk after 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 f5 just won't totally go away. We've previously devoted quite a bit of space to 11 Bd3 Be6 12 c3 Bg7 13 Nxb5!?, but recently Vallejo preferred 11 Bxb5!? axb5 12 Nxb5 Ra4 13 Nbc7+ Kd7 14 0-0:

This had been considered good for Black, but unfortunately for us Black erred in a critical position on move 18 in Vallejo Pons-San Segundo. In the notes I've pointed out various ideas which both sides might wish to explore further, but for now I think we'll have to wait and see if Vallejo repeats the bishop sacrifice.

The Kan: 5 Bd3

That variation 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6 5 Bd3 Bc5 often leads to a well-contested, complex middlegame. Following 6 Nb3 Be7 7 0-0 d6 8 c4 Nf6 9 Nc3 b6 10 f4 Nbd7 11 Qe2 Bb7 Black usually lands up going short:

However, in Panchanathan - Rowson our colleague unfortunately tried too hard to be creative. Admittedly 12 Kh1 Qc7 13 Bd2 h5?! did tempt White into some very direct, sacrificial play, but sadly Jonathan quickly lost his way in the ensuing complications.

The Taimanov: Classical Lines

The variation 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Be3 Nf6 7 Be2 a6 8 0-0 Bb4 9 Na4 Be7 10 Nxc6 bxc6 11 Nb6 Rb8 12 Nxc8 Qxc8 13 Bd4 has been considered slightly better for White in recent years. Black has often continued with the solid 13...c5 14 Be5 Rb6, but after 15 b3 d6 16 Bb2 0-0 17 Qd3 we've seen Bacrot demonstrating White's potential:

Rather than 17...Nd7, Black should quite possibly break with 17...d5 as he did in Vachier Lagrave-Nisipeanu, and after the logical novelty 18 exd5 Nxd5 19 Rad1 Nf4! he equalized without any difficulty.

The Classical: The Velimirovic Attack

A key tabiya in the Velimirovic arises after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 d6 6 Bc4 e6 7 Be3 Be7 8 Qe2 a6 9 0-0-0 Qc7 10 Bb3 Na5 11 g4 b5 12 g5 Nxb3+ 13 axb3 Nd7 14 Nf5!?:

This hasn't been covered of late on ChessPub, and it was clearly time to do something about that! Thus I've presented an overview of both theory's take and some recent developments in the notes to Lane - Wells.

The Najdorf: The English Attack

After 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e6 7 f3 b5 8 Qd2 Black has a few extremely unbalancing options, including 8...Nbd7 9 g4 h6 10 0-0-0 b4!? when play can continue 11 Nce2 Qc7 12 h4 d5:

White has tried a number of moves in this position, but in Morozevich - Vachier Lagrave he came up with a very direct novelty, 13 Nf4!?. I'm far from certain that this is theoretically good, but the result was undoubtedly one of the most entertaining games of 2009.

The Scheveningen-like 6...e6 remains quite viable, but of late 6...e5 has been more popular. After 7 Nb3 Be6 8 f3 Black essayed Topalov's 8...h5 in Eggleston - Gordon, emerging with a promising position after 9 Qd2 Nbd7 10 0-0-0 b5 11 f4?! Be7 12 f5 Bc4:

White cannot afford to play so routinely against 8...h5, which is why he should have leapt with his knight to d5 on either move 9 or 11.

The Najdorf: 6 Qf3

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Qf3!? continues to attract supporters. Black is probably best advised to respond with a Dragon-like set-up, but in practice many have preferred the Scheveningen-like 6...e6. Following 7 Be3 Be7 8 g4 Nc6 9 g5 Nd7 10 h4 we have a Keres Attack in which White's queen has been deployed in a slightly unusual manner:

Still, I quite like White's attacking chances here, and Black was certainly unable to solve his problems in Jones - Eggleston.

That's all for this month. I'll be back in September with several 6 Bg5 Najdorfs!

Until then, Richard


Please feel free to share any of your thoughts with me, whatever they are, suggestions, criticisms (just the polite ones, please), etc. Drop me a line at the Open Sicilians Forum, or subscribers can write directly to