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Dear Chessfriends, I wish you a Happy New Year!
Last month I was asked to cover an important, but somewhat forgotten Sveshnikov line with 12...Ne7!?, so that's why we have Dominguez - MVL, which was played back in November. In general this Update should suit Sveshnikov fans as we have more games in this section.

Download PGN of January ’24 Open Sicilian games

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Sveshnikov 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5 Ne7 9.c3 [B33]

We start with Erigaisi, A - Predke, A, where Arjun was trying to confuse his opponent by choosing the relatively unfashionable 9.c3, but it looks like Alexandr was ready for it.

The position after 18.b3 was tested in correspondence games, when the previously played 18...Bf5 seems to convincingly solve all the issues. Although 18...b6, as played by GM Predke, is somewhat committal, White still didn't manage to claim any advantage. Moreover, the inaccurate 22.c4?! even let Black activate his heavy pieces and take over the initiative. Luckily for Gm Erigaisi his opponent immediately returned the favor with 26...Bg4? and later failed to defend the slightly inferior endgame.

Sveshnikov 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5..12.c3 Ne7 [B33]

The game Dominguez, L - Vachier Lagrave, M saw an interesting theoretical discussion in the well-forgotten line with 12...Ne7!? which was very popular decades ago. The players entered a critical position after 18...Nf5:

Perhaps the surprise effect worked, as Leinier decided not to challenge his opponent with 19.g4!?, and instead chose 19.f3 which has a drawing tendency because of a probable move repetition. A draw was agreed at move 24.

In general, 12...Ne7!? looks playable for Black, although White has a few ways to deviate from Dominguez's play.

Sveshnikov 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5... 12.c3 Rb8 [B33]

In the next game, Paravyan, D - Ansat, A , the players entered a well-known theoretical position after 16...Be6:

At this point David deviated from the previously covered Piorun - Mamedov with 17.Rd1. It is a strategically risky approach because Black's stable dark-squared bishop makes White's kingside permanently uncomfortable. Indeed, 21...d5, followed by 22...f5 allowed Black to develop powerful play on the kingside that eventually ended in a nice attack. Although White's position after 17.Rd1 remains acceptable, I do not expect further tests of Paravyan's innovation.

The Four Knights 6.a3 Be7 [B45]

The game Yu, Y - Vachier Lagraeve saw Black come up with a natural novelty, 13...dxe5:

This was most likely deeply analyzed by both players before the game. In fact, it was White who went for a brave sacrifice with 15.Qf4, letting Black capture b2 and a1. It was definitely a well-played game by both players, where the only inaccurate move by Maxime, 21...Ra7?!, could have put his king in big danger. On the other hand, finding 23.c4! in a rapid game would be a tough task for any elite player.

We shall no doubt see more practical tests of the exciting middlegame position that emerges after White's exchange sacrifice.

Taimanov 5...a6 6.Qd3!? [B46]

The next game, Lagarde, M - Klekowski, M, also has exceptional theoretical value. Maxime played 9.f3!?:

, reasonably deviating from the previously covered Eljanov - Neksans. Black reacted naturally with 9...Bb7 but 10.a4! allowed White to quickly seize the initiative on the queenside. In general, this game was full of mutual mistakes, when 17...Qd6? practically decided it in White's favor.

Taimanov 5...Qc7 6.a3 b5 [B47]

In Grigoriants, S - Gukesh, D Black played 10...Rc8, following my recommendation from the notes to Motylev - Kezin.

This could have worked smoothly for Black had GM Gukesh played 12...Qc4 or 13...h6, but the careless 13...Bc5? should have led to a quick collapse. Luckily for Dommaraju, his experienced opponent erred at the last moment, so the point was shared after a perpetual.

Najdorf 6.h3 e5 7.Nde2 h5 8.g3 [B90]

The game Fedorchuk, S - Firouzja, A saw Sergey trying to deviate from well-known paths with 9.Be3:

This move doesn't seem to offer White anything special, but it looks like it managed to somewhat confuse Alireza, who went astray with 15...b4? which could have led to a strategically difficult endgame had White found 16.Bf1! Instead, Sergey returned the favor with 17.c3?! and eventually got outplayed.

Poisoned Pawn Najdorf 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd3 [B97]

The last game, Svane, F - Donchenko, A saw Alexander opt for the relatively rare 10...Qa5!?:

As we can see from the notes, this continuation seems equally good as the main 10....Be7, while Alexander's move requires less complex lines to memorize. Frederik responded with the ambitious 11.Bd2 e5 12.Nde2, maintaining full compensation for the pawn. Somewhat later White made a dubious decision to spend 2 tempi on 17.a4?!, followed by 19.c4?! but GM Donchenko immediately returned the favor by accepting a draw.

In general, 10...Qa5!? seems like a good way to meet the tricky 8.Qd3.

See you next month, Michael

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