Top-Level Repertoire against the Sicilian - Part 2
Here is GM Ivan Cheparinov’s second and final part on the main Sicilian lines. While Part 1 was dedicated to the lines with 2...d6, this database covers all the remaining options. As always, GM Cheparinov comes up with cutting-edge analysis which are designed to put tremendous practical problems for every opponent.
The course consists of 10 huge Chapters and the first half of them is dedicated to the variations after 2..Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 as follows:
Chapter 1 covers the Grivas variation 4…Qb6, to which the most aggressive plan with 5.Nb3 Nf6 6.Nc3 e6 7.Qe2 is recommended. The readers will find information about 4…Qc7 as well – White is not consent with the normal Taimanov and preference is given to 5.c4!
This tendency for seizing space in the centre by the c2-c4 advance is extended in Chapter 2 by a review of all sorts of the Accelerated Dragon and the Maroczy bind in particular. The author is starting with the deviations on moves 3 and 4 from the sequence 2…g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Bg7, in which Black delays Nb8-c6 for a while. Alternatively, 2…Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 reaches the same initial position.
After 5…Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 the path diverges:
- 7…Nxd4 is the usual answer, when after 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 the emphasis is on 10.Qd3, White is both overprotecting the central e4-pawn and has ambitious plans for his f-pawn;
- 7…Bg7 8.Be3 0-0 9.0-0 Bd7 is reaching another topical variation, in which Black is intending to bring this bishop to the long diagonal after trading Nd4. In case of 10.Qd2 the theory in many lines is lasting for more than 20 moves and this is one of the reasons behind the promotion of 10.h3 as the main reaction. White’s queen feels comfortably on the neighbouring c2-square and he often agrees on the relatively uncommon exchange of the dark-squared bishops in order to use the X-ray along the d-file.
The latter line usually arises via 5…Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Nc3 d6, so, apart from mentioning the possibilities after 7…Ng4 8.Qxg4 Nxd4 9.Qd1 and White’s best replies respectively, an attention is paid to 6…Qb6!?, which has lately gained a lot in popularity.
Chapter 3 deals with the sharp 4…e5 5.Nb5 a6 6.Nd6 Bxd6 7.Qxd6 Qf6
Cheparinov's suggestion 8.Qd2, in combination with queenside fianchetto, may well be the predecessor of the early deviation 2.Nc3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Qd2. Besides, the Kalashnikov with 5…d6 is the main continuation when the suppressing 6.c4 is back into the limelight again. The author analyzes both the usual set-ups with …Be7, and the trendy 6…g6!? - some of the lines are even transposing to Chapter 2.
In the next two Chapters the latest developments in the Pelikan/Sveshnikov variation 4…Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 are examined, namely after 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5, which has won many devotees since the World Championship match Caruana – Carlsen.
Chapter 4 is about 7…Ne7 8.c4 Ng6, while the consequences of the alternative 8…Nb8 are examined in Chapter 5.
The subjects of the second half of the database are the various set-ups with e7-e6. As usual, the rare systems are coming first, so Chapter 6 presents 2…a6 and 2…Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nc3 e6, while analysis about the tactical tricks after 2…e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Qb6/Bc5 and the Pin variation 4…Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 can be found in Chapter 7.
In Chapter 8 the so-called 4 knights system 2…e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6
Now, in case of 6.Ndb5, White should reckon with either 6…Bb4 or 6…d6, which excludes the aforementioned line with 7.Nd5 on the way to the Pelikan/Sveshnikov variation. Therefore 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Nd5 8.Ne4, threatening 9.c4, is preferred - the author explains in great detail the ensuing numerous move orders.
Yet another deviation from the Taimanov can be seen in Chapter 9, where Black’s featured second moves are combined. After 2…e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 the recommendation 5.Bf4!? may come as a surprise even to a thoroughly prepared opponent.
This new weapon of White’s has already appeared at the highest level, grabbing the attention of no one else, but Magnus Carlsen.
Finally, it is not a wonder that the Paulsen variation 2…e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 is challenged by the principled 5.c4! in Chapter 10.
After 5…Nf6 6.Nc3 the author has entirely concentrated on meeting 6…Qc7 with 7.Be2 and the trendy 6…Bb4 7.Qd3! He shares the overall opinion that it is hard for Black to find a safe path to equality.