ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Greetings from the European Club Cup in Plovdiv! No doubt many exciting Sicilians from this rather strong event will feature in my next column, but for now I'm going to follow in the footsteps of many of my fellow columnists and chiefly focus on developments at the Olympiad. And developments in the Sicilian there most certainly were.

Download PGN of October '10 Open Sicilian games

The Kan

We begin with the variation 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6 5 Bd3 Bc5 6 Nb3 Ba7. This continues to look very solid for Black, especially the line 7 0-0 Nc6 8 c4 (8 Qg4!? is slightly more disruptive) 8...Nf6 9 Nc3 d6 10 Qe2 e5! 11 Be3 0-0:

Judit Polgar has plenty of experience on the white side of this line, but was outplayed in Polgar - Smirin, where Black eschews any early ...Nd4 ideas in return for a solid regrouping with ...Nd7-c5. Overall, 6...Ba7 appears to offer Black excellent chances to draw, although his winning chances are perhaps not so great, despite the course of Smirin's game.

5 Nc3 usually leads to sharper play, but a safe way for Black to play it is 5...b5 6 Bd3 Bb7, which I like so much I've awarded it an exclam in my notes to Felgaer - Kamsky. There White tried the fairly critical 7 0-0 Nc6 8 Nxc6 Bxc6 9 Qe2 Bc5 10 e5 whereupon Kamsky came up with a pretty ambitious novelty, 10...Bd4!?:

White has various tries to obtain the initiative here, usually involving a4 or Ne4-d6+ ideas, but in the game Felgaer strives too hard and finds that his bold rook sacrifice is insufficient.

Somewhat surprisingly Kamsky switched to the more risky 6...Qb6 sub-variation in two later games in Khanty-Mansiysk. His idea was to meet 7 Nf3! Nc6 8 0-0 not with 8...d6, but rather 8...Nge7:

Even here White appears to be for choice, not that Black needed whatsoever to fall for 9 Be3 Qc7? 10 Bxb5! in Sutovsky - Kamsky.

The Najdorf: 6 Be3

I couldn't help noticing that the positional line 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e5 7 Nf3 has been debated a fair bit of late and that at this point 7...Qc7 is continuing to stage something of a recovery:

One important discovery for Black has been Ivanchuk's idea of meeting 8 a4 Be7 9 Be2 0-0 10 a5 with 10...Nc6! 11 Bb6 Qb8 when White is yet to come up with anything at all. Thus in Adams - Esen, he tried 10 0-0 Be6 11 Ng5 (11 a5 h6 would transpose) 11...Bd7 12 a5 h6 13 Nf3 Be6 14 Nd5, but this was pretty comfortable too for Black after 14...Nxd5 15 exd5 Bg4.

The Najdorf: 6 h3

Svidler is the latest grandmaster to give 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 h3 a try, but I doubt that he'll be keen to repeat it after his experience in Svidler - Ivanisevic. Indeed, this game only really confirms that 6...e6 (6...e5!? is also in reasonable health, as we'll see too) 7 g4 b5 8 Bg2 Nfd7! gives Black decent counterplay:

After 9 Be3 Nc6 White has housed his king on both flanks, but without yet really coming close to demonstrating any advantage.

The Najdorf: 6 Bg5

Next month we'll return to the topical sub-variation 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bg5 Nbd7!?, but slightly more conventional lines require our attention this month. After 6...e6 7 f4 Nbd7 8 Qf3 is no longer an automatic choice, with 8 Qe2!? quickly catching up in the popularity stakes:

Indeed, this preparation for a timely e4-e5 was White's choice in a clash of opposing experts, Shirov - Berg. White eventually prevailed with some typically Shirovian resourcefulness, but there can be no doubt that for a while the Swedish Grandmaster's attack looked favourite to carry the day.

Finally, we come to the Poisoned Pawn where 7...Qb6 8 Qd2 Qxb2 9 Rb1 Qa3 10 e5 is still very much alive and kicking. As subscribers should be fully aware, Black usually counters with 10...h6 11 Bh4 dxe5 12 fxe5 and then 12...Nd7, but 12...Nd5!? was covered in the Rybka 3 Opening Book and has received a fair amount of correspondence testing, not to mention being subject to much scrutiny by some excellent analysts on the Forum:

Over-the-board tests have been pretty rare thus far, but perhaps the course of Motylev - Sutovsky will increase the number.

Bye for now, 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