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Hello everyone,
This time we had many exciting tournaments to follow and only selecting 8 games wasn't an easy task. So, I decided to focus on 3 events - the Aeroflot Open, the Bundesliga and the St Louis Spring A. I think this update will mostly please Sveshnikov fans as we rarely find 3 such important games in just one update.

Download PGN of March ’19 Open Sicilian games

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Sveshnikov 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c3 Rb8 12.Nc2 Bg5 13.a4 [B33]

Our first game, Tari, A - Kasimdzhanov, R, saw the players enter an extremely sharp theoretical position after 21.Be2:

At this moment Rustam played 21...e3!?, which I previously considered dubious in my notes to Ganguly - Shirov, from the archives. In return, on move 23, Aryan chose the quiet 23.g3 that doesn't seem to pose Black any problems. The really critical moment came on move 25, when the careless 25.0-0?! allowed Black to seize the initiative, and eventually win the game.

Anyway, 21...e3!? should be tested more in practice, while 23.h5 still seems the most challenging.

Sveshnikov 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c4 b4 12.Nc2 0-0 12.g3 [B33]

Another interesting theoretical discussion took place in Le, Quang Liem - Tari, A. In the well-known theoretical position after 15...Be6:

White employed the relatively rare 16.f4!?, and after the careless 18...Nb8? managed to quickly develop a powerful initiative on the k-side. However, after that the higher-rated player failed to play precisely and let Black solve all his problems.

Undoubtedly the aggressive 16.f4!? deserves serious attention, though after 18...exf4 Black's position looks acceptable.

Sveshnikov 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.Bd3 Be6 12.0-0 Bxd5... 14.Re1 [B33]

In the next game, Robson, R - Kasimdzhanov, R, the players tested one more long theoretical line, that was previously covered in Inarkiev - Gelfand 2 years ago. Rustam deviated from that game with 20...Qb6:

that seems to have been analyzed in detail by both players. A few moves later White went for a positional exchange sacrifice, following in Topalov's footsteps. Black reacted well with a natural novelty 23...R4e5 and got a solid position, but a few moves later Rustam unnecessarily returned the material with 27...Rxe3? and faced big problems. In general, it was a very well-played game by GM Ray Robson.

Taimanov Be3, Bd3 setup [B48]

The next game, Vachier Lagrave, M - Kamsky, G, saw Maxime choosing the somewhat unfashionable 7.Bd3 system vs the Taimanov. In reply, Gata reacted with the risky 8...h5 that was already seen on our site a long time ago:

Perhaps this rare line came as a sort of surprise for Maxim, as he didn't managed to handle it precisely. Still, had he played 16.Rd1! White would have obtained a powerful initiative, but instead 16.b3?!, followed by 18.Qf2?!, allowed Gata to seize the initiative with his powerful bishops. The further play was full of mutual mistakes, but Black was never in danger, and at the end GM Kamsky scored a nice victory.

To sum up, the setup with Bd3 doesn't seem to pose Black serious problems, but I wouldn't recommend the risky 8...h5.

Taimanov 6.Be3 a6 7.Qf3 Nf6 8.0-0-0 Ne5 9.Qg3 b5 10.f4 Neg4 [B48]

In my opinion, the game Caruana, F - Shankland, S has exceptional theoretical value. 3 years ago, in Edouard Neksans, White introduced the fresh 11.Bd2!? and managed to develop a powerful initiative. Since then, this idea was never seen in our PGN Archive, and now Fabiano decided to test his opponent on this territory. Well, it looks like Sam analyzed it in detail, and came up with the important novelty 12...h5!:

The subsequent natural play from both players moves led to the critical moment on move 20, when Fabiano went astray with 20.Qf2?!, that made his position dicey. However, GM Shankland quickly returned the favor with 21...a4?!, when 21...Bxd4! would have posed White serious practical problems. Moreover, at the end it was Fabiano who missed definite winning chances, so the game ended in a draw after some spectacular play.

Najdorf/Scheveningen 6.h3 e6 7.g4 Be7 8.Bg2 Be7 [B81/90]

In the next game, Praggnanadhaa, R - Kevlishvili, R the young Indian Grandmaster came up with the dangerous novelty 9.Qd3!?:

and after 9...0-0?! White quickly developed a powerful attack. However, at some pointed White started to play inaccurately, and after 23.Bh6? Black managed to secure his king at the cost of some material. After that the play was very double-edged, so all 3 results were possible for a long time. Alas, at the end the game was decided by a terrible blunder from Robby's side.

Anyway, at the moment after 9.Qd3 the ball is in Black's court.

Najdorf 6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Bg3 Bg7 10.Be2 h5 11.h4 [B90]

The game Sasikiran, K - Kulaots, K saw Sasikiran challenge his opponent in the fashionable line with 11.h4 where Kaido lost a memorable game 3 years ago. It looks like GM Kulaots did his homework, though, and on move 19 correctly deviated with 19...Bxb3!:

Most probably this was still analyzed by Krishnan in detail, but his innovation 25.b4 failed to pose Black any serious problems, and a draw was agreed after decent play from both sides.

Najdorf 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Re1 [B92]

In the last game, Sasikiran, K - Korobov, A, White employed the relatively unexplored 10.Be3!?:

The strategic merits of White's setup were well illustrated in this game, since Anton unsuccessfully deviated from his preceding encounter with 14...Nf8?! and came under permanent positional pressure. Undoubtedly, Anton's desperate attempt to complicate matters with 20...Qxc3? made White's task easier, but it was no fun for Black anyway. Regarding the opening, there are few clear ways to improve over Anton's play. Possibly 10...Nc6!? has to be preferred.

See you next month, Michael

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