3 Bb5+ Sicilian [B52]
The Moscow Variation comes under scrutiny this month thanks to a request from Tony Surmer from Southampton. He had noticed the game Delchev - Ivanchuk and wanted to take a closer look at the line, which begins: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 Bb5+ Bd7 4 Bxd7+ Qxd7 5 c4 Nf6 6 Nc3 g6 7 0-0 Bg7:
Basically, Ivanchuk plays a kingside fianchetto but avoids an playing ...Nc6 and then finds a clever way to secure equality, with an early draw the result.
This example prompted ChessPublishing contributor Tony Kosten to try it out in one of his own games against top class opposition. Rabiega - Kosten sees Black creating a winning position only to throw it all away before finally grasping a draw.
The Kuba - Witmann is another great advert for the line because Black emerges from the opening with equal chances and is soon on top.
Curiously, these last two games were both played the same weekend by the same Austrian club team, after team-mate Stefan Kindermann suggested the line one evening over dinner!
Star game of the month
The star game of the month is Firman - Nevednichy which is a C3 Sicilian featuring 2...d5. It caught my eye because after Black exchanges pawns on d4 White takes back with the knight which is a bit odd:
White is a strong player but his innovation doesn't quite convince.
Opening Survey - The Nimzovitch Variation 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6
A special request from reader Jeff Hipolito to explore this intriguing line is welcome. I know that White has to be aware of the complicated lines but it can certainly catch a few people out purely on surprise value:
The first game is Alonso - Hoffman where we take a closer look at one of the main lines 3 e5 Nd5 4 Nc3.
Black wins the game in the example Staeger - Murey because White is baffled by the opening and soon goes astray.
Grachev - Belozerov is another Black triumph and the use of the Nimzovitch by strong players is an indication that there is still room for improvement on the old lines.
Finally, the recent game Cernousek - Stojkovic sees Black trying to innovate in a well know line and it all goes horribly wrong.
I welcome e-mails and games from subscribers, and you can always write on the Anti-Sicilians Forum.