ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
This month's update begins with a surprise... Mickey Adams popping up on the black side of a likely Kalashnikov! I just hope that he continues to employ the opening over the coming months. Elsewhere it's also great to see Joe Gallagher back advancing Najdorf theory in a topical line.

Download PGN of June '10 Open Sicilian games

The Kalashnikov

Well, I say Kalashnikov. Khachiyan - Adams actually begins 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 e5 5 Nf5, so I dare say it's possible that the English no.1 would have preferred the Lowenthal in the event of 5 Nb5. The alternative knight forward leap is rare and for good reason:

Here I would be tempted by 5...Nf6!?, keeping ...d5 in reserve for a move, but the immediate 5...d5 is quite an easy equalizer. Our featured game continues 6 Qxd5 Qxd5 7 exd5 Bxf5 8 dxc6 bxc6 9 Bd3 Bxd3 10 cxd3, which must be fine for Black, although in the game White is able to earn a small edge with some precise play.

More critical is, of course, 5 Nb5 when 5...d6 remains pretty topical. We check out the latest developments in Jobava - Kusnetsov, which features 6 N1c3 (rather than 6 c4 which folk keep employing against Radjabov) 6...a6 7 Na3 b5 8 Nd5. At this juncture I fear that Black is best advised to offer a transposition to the Sveshnikov with 8...Nf6. Instead 8...Nce7?! has its adherents, but after 9 Bg5 h6 10 Bxb5+! axb5 11 Nxb5 Ra7 12 Nxa7 Qa5+ I suspect that Jobava's straightforward but new plan of 13 Nc3! Qxa7 14 Be3 followed by Qd3 and 0-0-0 may just bury the line:

Black does have two pieces for the rook and two pawns, but his kingside just takes too long to untangle and in the meantime White is very likely to pick up d6.

The Scheveningen

We begin our exploration of this venerable opening with a line of the English Attack which cannot arise from a Najdorf move order, viz. 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6 6 Be3 Nc6 7 f3 Be7 8 Qd2 0-0 9 0-0-0 d5:

Until quite recently White used to exchange on d5 or try to build up some pressure with 10 Qe1, but of late a third option has become popular: 10 Be2!?. Central exchanges appear to give White a small but clear edge, so perhaps Black is best advised to retain the tension for a move with 10...a6!?. All is explained in Navara - Rasik.

With White often eschewing the Keres Attack these days, I suspect that we will see more of the Classical variation, as well as an English Attack approach. In Alekseev - Svidler White went in for 6 Be2 Be7 7 0-0 0-0 8 f4 Nc6 9 Be3, no doubt hoping for a very complex middlegame after 9...a6 10 a4 Bd7, but Svidler avoided those double-edged and pretty theoretical lines with 9...e5:

This central reaction used to be regularly employed by both Spassky and Kasparov, and it still looks to be in good shape. Alekseev fails to prove any advantage and soon has to settle for early simplification and a draw, but in any case the ball is very much in White's court here.

The Najdorf: 6 Be3

Much remains in a state of flux in the English Attack, not least various continuations after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e6 7 f3 b5 8 Qd2 Nbd7 9 g4. Here I don't entirely trust 9...Nb6 10 a4! for Black, but 9...h6 10 0-0-0 b4 11 Nce2 Qc7 remains quite viable:

At this point 12 h4 d5 13 Nf4 was that amazing game, Morozevich-Vachier Lagrave, Biel 2009, but 12 Bg2!? has received a fair amount of correspondence testing according to Tim Harding's excellent new CD, Ultra Corr 3A. White went on to win with a series of powerful blows in Svetushkin - Wang Hao, but matters were hardly clear until Black overlooked a fiendish sacrifice.

Moving on to 6 Bg5 and we find 6...Nbd7 continuing to grow in popularity, with no lesser Najdorf authority than Joe Gallagher having taken it up. After 7 f4 Black continues to score well with 7...Qc7, but both 7...h6 and especially 7...e5!? are two badly-unexplored byways which may merit closer examination. The queen move was, though, employed in Kanovsky - Navara, which continued 8 Qf3 h6 9 Bh4 g5! 10 fxg5 hxg5 11 Bxg5 Qc5 12 Nf5 e6:

As subscribers will be aware, Black has decent compensation should White exchange on f6, but the new sacrificial attempt 13 Be3?! Qb4 14 0-0-0 exf5 15 Qxf5 failed to convince after Navara's strong counter, 15...Rh5!.

Alternatives to 7 f4 are considered in Bosiocic - Gallagher, where we chiefly focus on developments after the sensible option 7 Bc4 e6 8 0-0. I quite like ...Qb6 either here or a move earlier, but the Anglo-Swiss Grandmaster makes a decent case for 8...Qa5!?:

Van Wely cannot have pleasant memories of the Gelfand System (6...e6 7 f4 Nbd7) after this year's Wijk aan Zee, but he remained loyal to it in Gashimov - Van Wely. After 8 Bc4 Qb6 9 Bxf6 Nxf6 Gashimov introduced a new move and one which echoes his favourite line against the Poisoned Pawn, namely 10 Qd3!?:

This gave White reasonable play for the pawn, but no more than that and, indeed, Gashimov soon found himself somewhat on the back foot.

That's all for this month, but I hope to bring you further Sicilian contributions from Messrs Adams and Gallagher over the coming months.

Until then, Richard


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