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This time all the games are selected from different tournaments. Also, this time we have a few original ideas in the main Sicilian tabias, and only 2 games are devoted to the Najdorf.

Download PGN of November ’22 Open Sicilian games

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Kan 5.h3!? [B41]

We start with Bacrot, E - Saric, A where Etienne surprised his lower-rated opponent with the rare 5.h3!?:

This modest move definitely doesn't pretend to refute the Kan, but it isn't as harmless as it looks. In fact, Ante's standard reaction 6...g6 led Black into a cramped position, and GM Bacrot managed to demonstrate all its drawbacks.

I am pretty sure that we will soon see more practical tests of 5.h3!?

The Four Knights 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Nd5 8.Ne4 Qc7 [B45]

The next game, Ganguly, S - Abasov, N, saw an interesting discussion in a sharp and fashionable line of the Four Knights. In the position after 10.a3:

Nijat played 10...a5, which wasn't covered on our site before.

Later, GM Ganguly came up with an interesting novelty, 14.Bd2, that could have posed Black certain problems. However, Nijat demonstrated his excellent understanding of those sharp positions, and a draw was agreed after a well-played game by both players.

Taimanov 5...Qc7 6.Ncb5!? [B47]

Another rare and interesting idea was tried by Sergei in Lobanov, S - Sankalp, G. White played 6.Ncb5!? with the intention to obtain a comfortable position a-la Maroczy with ..c2-c4.

Gupta reacted well, so an approximate balance was kept up till move 14 when Black carelessly played 14...Ne5? and was soon crushed by a direct attack.

As 6.Ncb5!? was already played against Magnus, I expect more practical tests of it soon.

Taimanov 5...Qc7 6.Be2 a6 7.Nxc6 [B47]

The game Muzychuk, A - Lei, T saw the players enter an important endgame, that was already analyzed in 2 games before on our site. In the position after 11...Bb7:

Anna came up with te original novelty 12.a4, but this surprise didn't really confuse her opponent - Black reacted well with 12...Nf6 and obtained an acceptable position. Even so, at some point Anna could have put Tingjie under some pressure had she played 23.g4!, but instead, 23.Rxd6 let Black achieve an effortless draw.

Classical Richter-Rauzer 6.Bg5 e6 7.Bb5 [B62]

In the next game, Kadric, D - Yoo, C, Denis seemed to confuse his opponent with the dangerous, but relatively rare, 7.Bb5!?:

In fact, Christopher's novelty 12...e5 led to a strategically difficult position for Black. GM Kadric managed to fully outplay his talented opponent, but 2 mistakes in a row - 24.Rd1? and 26.Rd1? - suddenly ruined White's position.

In my opinion, 7.Bb5!? is still a promising sideline.

Classical Richter-Rauzer 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Bd7 9.Kb1 [B67]

The game Beerdsen, T - Ernst, S illustrates White's attacking potential well in the line with the quiet 9.Kb1. In the theoretical position after 15.g4:

Sipke played the new (for our site) 15...Nd7. In reply, Thomas impulsively played 17.g5?! and after 17...d5! Black managed to activate most of his pieces and obtain decent counter-play. The really critical moment of the game came on move 29, when 29...gxh6? allowed White to quickly develop a crushing attack.

It looks, like 15...Nd7 doesn't offer Black comfortable play, as Thomas's play can definitely be improved.

Najdorf 6.h3 e6 7.g4 d5 [B90/B81]

The next game, Ponkratov, P - Nevostrujev, V, saw an interesting theoretical discussion in the somewhat forgotten line with 7...d5 8.exd5 Nxd5 9.Nde2:

Here Vladimir chose 9...Nxc3 , which leads to a solid but somewhat passive position for Black. Pavel later came up with the novelty 15.Ne2, and it had the perfect effect: Black soon went astray with 18...Kxc6? and Black's king got checkmated in the centre!

Instead of this, the cold-blooded 18...Kc8! would have solved all of Black's problems.

Despite such a brilliant win, I prefer the previously played 15.Bf4+, when Black still has to claim equality.

Najdorf 6.Bd3 g6 [B90]

The last game, Vaishali, R - Sethuraman, saw the higher-rated player avoid the main theoretical paths with 7...e5:

It looks, like Ramesh Babu wast confused by this choice and quickly erred with 12.f4? As a result, Black managed to put strong pressure on both the e4-pawn and on White's king by pushing the a-pawn. White's position was on the verge of collapse, but the brave 16.g4! provoked GM Sethuraman to wrongly accept the pawn sacrifice. The rest of the game was full of mutual mistakes, where Vaishali's attacking play eventually overwhelmed Black's extra material. A very spectacular game!

See you next month, Michael

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