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This Update is full of early fresh ideas in well-known theoretical positions. Also, I am glad to finally include one of my own games in the Kan that I recently played in a team event. Enjoy!

Download PGN of March ’24 Open Sicilian games

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Kan 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.Qc2 [B42]

We start with Rodshtein, M - Smirin, I, which saw White play the relatively rare 7.Qc2:

Ilya responded with the most common 7...Qc7, but the middlegame a-la Hedgehog that arose after 10.f4! turned out to be rather uncomfortable for Black. Rodshtein's energetic play - 14.g4!, followed by 19.b4! made his position practically winning, and only the inaccurate 42.Nxg6? let Ilya escape in this exciting game.

In my opinion, Black should search for early deviations, such as 7...0-0!? - we should definitely see further practical tests of this line.

Kan 5.c4 5.Nf6 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.Qd3 [B42]

In the next game, Sokolovsky, Y - Roiz, M, my young opponent deviated from the main theoretical paths with 12.Rd1:

Yours truly reacted well with 13...a5! but unfortunately this decision took me a long time. Black didn't have any problems for most of the game, but my poor time management led me to commit a terrible blunder at the very end.

Even so, I find this game instructive enough for the Kan with 7.Qd3 - in most cases Black's activity should provide sufficient compensation for the pawn.

Taimanov 5...Qc7 6.Be2 Nf6 7.Ndb5 [B47]

The game Brkic, A - Shengelia, D saw an interesting theoretical discussion in one of the sharpest lines of the Taimanov. The players entered the critical position after 15.c3:

when Black's innovation 15...d4 doesn't seem to be that best solution. Even so, Davit managed to withstand White's pressure very well up to a point, but then 25...Qb2?? decided the struggle in White's favor.

Taimanov 5...Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.Bd3 [B48]

GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov is a rising star, who is known for his deep knowledge in various openings, including the sidelines. This time , in Abdusattorov, N - Kamsky, G, he introduced another fresh and powerful idea, 9.Qd2!, in a relatively uncommon Taimanov line:

Gata responded well with 12...Bc5 and later obtained an acceptable position. The really critical moment came on move 24, when 24...Bxd4? led to a quick collapse.

Undoubtedly, 9.Qd2! seems to offer White excellent attacking prospects and should be tested more.

Taimanov 5...Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.0-0-0 Be7 [B48]

In Yu, Yangyi - Erigaisi, A White came up with the very rare 9.g4!?:

, trying to confuse his well-prepared young opponent. It didn't really work as Arjun soon played 12...g5!, a powerful novelty. The rest of the game was well-played by both players, and a draw was agreed on move 25.

Sozin Attack 6.Bc4 e6 7.Be3 Bd7 [B89]

Another interesting theoretical idea was demonstrated in Kadric, D - Shevchenko, K. In one of the well-known positions of the Sozin Attack after 8.Bb3 Black played the rare 8...Nxd4!?:

The intention is to quickly gain counterplay with ....b7-b5. It worked perfectly, especially regarding the fact that 17.Ba2? turned out to be the decisive mistake that let Kirill win in style.

Undoubtedly, the ball is now in White's court after 8...Nxd4!?

Najdorf 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 Nbd7 9.Qd2 h5 [B90]

We end with 2 games that were played in one of the critical Najdorf lines with 6.Be3.

First, in Riehle, M - Vitiugov, N White went for the most aggressive 10.0-0-0, and the players soon reached a fashionable position after 12...Be7:

Marco quickly deviated from known paths with 13.f4 Qc7 14.Nd5, but this doesn't seem to pose Black any problems. Moreover, the natural 17.Be2? could have led to a quick collapse had Nikita found 17...exf4! Eventually the game was decided by the impulsive 28.g4? allowing Black to quickly ruin White's queenside by sacrificing on c3.

In another high-level game, Rodshtein, M - Korobov, A, White played 10.Nd5, and an interesting theoretical position after 13.c4 was reached:

It looks like Antom messed up in his preparation, since 13...b6 allowed White to quickly seize the initiative with 15.f4! The rest of the play was full of mutual mistakes, but Black was the last to err.

In my opinion, Anton's way of handling the position is worthy of attention, but Black should play 13...Qh4+!, which was tested in many correspondence games.

See you next month, Michael

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