ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
This update is a little delayed, but I hope that subscribers have been busy enjoying Wijk, which I wanted to allow to approach its climax before beginning work myself. Indeed, we have three main games from the fantastic Dutch event this month, and there will be plenty more next month!

Download PGN of January '11 Open Sicilian games

>> Previous Update >>

The Sveshnikov

By subscriber demand we take a look at the variation 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 11 Bd3 Be6 12 Qh5:

This isn't considered too critical any longer, but might just catch out a few players new to the Sveshnikov. Play usually continues 12...Rg8 13 g3 and now all of 13...Rg5, 13...Rg4!?, 13...Rc8 and 13...Nd4 give Black enough counterplay, albeit in rather murky positions, with the last-named likely leading to a draw with best play, as we'll see in Romanenko - Uesugi.

A more topical alternative is 12 c3 Bg7 13 Nxb5!? axb5 14 Bxb5+ Bd7 15 exf5:

I've previously been quite a fan, but on the latest evidence Black has a few options which lead to quite drawish positions; the pawns and the piece roughly balancing each other out. I dread to imagine how long I spent analysing Stefansson - Stany, but I do hope subscribers enjoy both a great scrap there and some other highly-interesting encounters in the notes. Do especially check out Krasenkow's approach, 15...Rb8 16 a4 Rg8!?, obtaining some counterplay on the kingside while keeping the king in the centre where it should be safe enough.

The Kan

The Latvian Grandmaster Normunds Miezis rather likes the solid line 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Bd3 Nc6, which is certainly safer than another sub-variation which surfaced at Wijk, namely 6...Nf6 7 0-0 d6 8 f4 g6?!, well met by Vocaturo's 9 e5!. The critical continuation after 6...Nc6 is 7 Nxc6 dxc6 8 0-0 e5 9 f4 Nf6 10 Kh1 Bd6 11 f5:

Miezis remains true to his pet variation and 11...h5 in Shirov - Miezis, despite an earlier loss with the move to the same opponent. However, it turns out that his improvement isn't all that much of an improvement, and it will be interesting to see where he to turns next.

The Taimanov

After 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 Nf6 one attempt to cast doubt on the supposed purity and flexibility of Black's set-up is the bold 7 Qd2 Bb4 8 f3:

I find it hard to believe that White can play in such English Attack style when 8...d5 is next up, but after 9 0-0-0 Qa5 10 Nb3 Bxc3 11 Nxa5 Bxd2+ 12 Bxd2 dxe4 13 Nc4 White has enjoyed some success with his bishop-pair in the resulting queenless middlegame. Grischuk, though, shows the route to total equality for Black in Svidler - Grischuk.

A more common, closely-related approach is that of 5...Qc7 6 Be3 a6 7 Qd2 Nf6 8 0-0-0 when there have been developments, and important ones at that, after 8...Be7 in recent months:

Black appears to be in decent shape with the prophylactic 9 f3 h5!?, while Morozevich's 9...0-0 10 g4 b5 11 g5 has been rehabilitated by 11...Nh5!. We'll see those developments in the notes to Gashimov - Movsesian, where White prefers 9 f4, but this fails to impress after 9...b5 10 Bd3 b4.

The Scheveningen

An important Classical Scheveningen tabiya, 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6 6 Be2 Be7 7 0-0 0-0 8 Be3 a6 9 a4 Nc6 10 f4, comes under the spotlight this month. Black opts for 10...Bd7 11 Kh1 Qc7 in Efimenko - Navara, where 12 Qe1!? Nxd4 13 Bxd4 Bc6 14 Qg3 contains more sting than one might at first assume:

The leading Czech Grandmaster is quickly in some trouble after the overly-optimistic 14...b5?!, and may have wished he'd preferred 10...Qc7 11 Kh1 Re8, reaching a position he'd had at the Olympiad. Here the main line, 12 Bf3, seems to be holding up OK for Black, which may explain Njiboer's recent interest in 12 Qd2 Bd7 13 Nf3!?:

The Dutch Grandmaster scored a crushing victory with it last year, but comes badly unstuck in Nijboer - Le Quang Liem. Still, 13 Nf3 deserves further attention, with Volokitin's 17 a5 likely a move worthy of further exploration.

The Najdorf

Developments from Wijk in the solid line 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e5 7 Nf3 come under the microscope this month. This was White's choice in two important last-round games where Black really needed to win. Nyzhnyk opted for 7...Qc7, but the prodigy was soon depressingly worse against Vocaturo, whereas after 7...Be7 8 Bc4 0-0 9 0-0 Qc7!? Black soon had the sort of complex struggle he was after in Nepomniachtchi - Anand:

On the current evidence, White doesn't have anything here, with the Russian Champion's 10 Nd5 Nxd5 11 Bxd5 Nd7 12 c4 no more impressive than 10 Bb3, as we've considered before.

That's all for this update. I'll be back pretty soon with plenty more exciting and important Najdorf encounters from Wijk!


>> Previous Update >>


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