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I'm delighted to say that we have some Richter-Rauzer coverage this month from one of the World's leading experts on it, Peter Wells. Elsewhere White continues to wage positional war against the Sveshnikov, albeit without great success, and we also take a look at a complex opening which never fades from grandmaster practice, the Classical Scheveningen.

Download PGN of July '08 Open Sicilian games

The Sveshnikov: 9 Nd5

We've devoted a fair amount of coverage of late to the popular positional line 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 Nd5 Be7 10 Bxf6 Bxf6 11 c4 b4 12 Nc2. Interest in this shows little sign of abating, although White is beginning to struggle to prove any advantage whatsoever. In Nisipeanu - Shirov play followed an existing path with 12...a5 13 g3 0-0 14 h4 Be6 15 Bh3, but after the active gambit 15...a4!? Black obtained an easy game:

Unfortunately just as Shirov was beginning to get on top in this game, he uncharacteristically lost his way in the complications. Meanwhile Movsesian appears to have switched from 13 g3 to 13 Qf3, but with another active queenside demonstration, Black obtained a decent enough position in Movsesian - Papadopoulos: 13...Be6 14 Rd1 a4! 15 Be2 b3! 16 axb3 Rb8 and Black enjoyed good compensation:

The Classical Sicilian: The Richter-Rauzer

Now it's time to hand over to Peter Wells:

The endgame which arises after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Bg5 e6 7 Qd2 Be7 8 0-0-0 0-0 9 f4 Nxd4 10 Qxd4 Qa5 11 e5 dxe5 12 Qxe5 Qxe5 13 fxe5 Nd5 14 Bxe7 Nxe7 may not be the ultimate crowd-puller, but it is of enormous theoretical importance and so too, I believe, is the game Motylev - Miroshnichenko:

The 'threat' of 11 e5 as a 'drawish weapon' will not be going anywhere fast - although in fairness the intricacies of this ending do not make their demands exclusively upon Black - but it would be likely to make for much more entertaining 11th move choices in the future if a clear route to equal play could be demonstrated here.

Heading for the tabiya which arises after Black's 10th move has sometimes been a fairly lonely activity and on occasions a difficult one:

At times both 11 Bc4!? (see Caruana - Baramidze) and 11 Kb1 have put considerable strain on Black's resources, whilst 11 e5 has always had some irritation value - especially for the Black player seeking to compete for the full point. However, I now believe both that Black's task is looking a bit rosier than usual against the alternatives and that 11 e5!? is looking significantly more of a threat than hitherto.

In Carlsson - Huerga Leache we feature another system with which I have dabbled from time to time, but one which frankly also appears to be under some pressure, namely 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Bg5 e6 7 Qd2 a6 8 0-0-0 Bd7 9 f4 h6 10 Bh4 g5 11 fxg5 Ng4:

The ambitious idea of playing ...g5 in order to control the e5-square - much in the style of the Browne system in the Najdorf - is of course laudable enough. However, the f7-square looks distinctly vulnerable in several lines and winning back the pawn may itself be far from simple in the most testing variations.

The Scheveningen: Classical Variation

(Back to Richard.)

There's something almost timeless about the Classical Variation of the Scheveningen, which has been about the leading all-play-alls for many a decade now. This month we examine the key tabiya after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be2 e6 7 0-0 Be7 8 Be3 Nc6 9 a4 0-0 10 f4 Qc7 11 Kh1 Re8 12 Bf3 to use but one move order:

Recent grandmaster praxis has seen Black often begin by continuing his kingside regrouping with 12...Bf8 and after 13 Qd2, 13...Rb8 appears better than Topalov's 13...Na5. In Ivanchuk - Van Wely White doesn't get anywhere with 14 Rfd1, and 14 Qf2!? is probably a more critical try. Jakovenko - Rublevsky follows an earlier game of Rublevsky's against Grischuk until move 18 when, rather than offer a draw as Grischuk did, Jakovenko comes prepared with a rather dangerous exchange sacrifice. I'm not certain that it's sufficient for an objective advantage, but the defensive task was certainly beyond Rublevsky, although he was later able to salvage a draw.

The Najdorf: 6 Bg5

Against the Gelfand Variation (1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bg5 e6 7 f4 Nbd7), White usually goes 8 Qf3, but 8 Bc4!? is a sharp alternative. In Gashimov - Volokitin he comes armed with the pawn sacrifice 8...Qb6 9 Bb3 Be7 10 f5 Nc5 11 Qf3!?:

It is possible to accept the pawn, but after 11...Ncxe4 12 Nxe4 Qxd4 13 Bxf6 Volokitin failed to find the correct recapture on f6 and was swiftly put to the sword.

Dare I say that the English Attack will return next month?!

Until then, Richard


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