Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Two Knights Sicilian, Part Four: Guseinov's Anti-Paulsen Gambit

White to play. What's the best move?

I recently posted my analysis of Guseinov's Anti-Paulsen Gambit complete with a PGN file so that you can continue on your own (which you will need to do in some lines where things remain a bit murky for me). The position above arises after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 (I typically reverse the order of the Knights with 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 to allow the Grand Prix against some Black choices) 3...a6 4.g3 b5 5.d4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Bb7 7.Bg2 Nf6 8.O-O! b4 9.Na4 Bxe4 10.Bxe4 Nxe4 11.Re1 d5(?) 12.c4! dxc3 13.Nxc3 Nxc3 (see diagram). And now GM Gadir Guseinov has analyzed a stunning novelty to a clear advantage for White (at least a pawn plus against perfect play by Black, but often much more).

Can you imagine what that move might be?

My analysis of this line is an important addition to my notes on the Two Knights Sicilian (see Part One, Part Two, and Part Three). I think you'll find it fits nicely with the Grand Prix Attack (see my Grand Prix Attack Bibliography and Grand Prix Attack, Explained) as part of the overall Knightmare Repertoire as a way of meeting some of Black's better anti-Grand Prix set-ups.

Against Black's Paulsen move order (with 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 or 2...a6), the Grand Prix Attack does not work out so well, so White needs some other system to supplement it. I had previously relied upon a transposition to the traditional Closed Sicilian (as illustrated in my game from last year against Ken Chieu), which is often recommended when Black plays an early ...a6, since that move is usually not necessary in the Closed and therefore looks like a wasted tempo. But it's hard to take advantage of a wasted tempo in a closed opening and, more recently, I have had trouble finding an edge for White against the Instant French Set-up with 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.f4 d5! followed by ...dxe4.

Finding little in the Grand Prix against 2...e6, I began playing 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3, when White gets a nice edge against the frequently-played 3...d5?! after 4.exd5 exd5 5.Bb5+ etc. and can transpose to some interesting lines of the Bb5 Sicilian after 3...Nc6 4.Bb5 or play the fianchetto lines with 4.g3--only later deciding whether to go into Open Sicilian territory with d4 or to stay in a sort of Closed Sicilian with Nf3 (as described by Joel Benjamin in Part Four and Five of his Anti-Sicilian series at the JeremySilman website).

Of course, if Black plays 3...a6 (or even 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 a6 followed by 3...e6, which I see frequently) then I more or less have to fianchetto the Bishop if I want to avoid Sicilian main lines. And since I do find I prefer the open games to the slow maneuvering of the Closed Sicilian, I generally try to play an early d4. Hence my interest in Guseinov's Anti-Paulsen Gambit, which seems an absolute necessity to master if I am going to continue on this course.... For those put off by the murkier lines, I have included some coverage of Benjamin's recommended lines, but you'll have to see his articles to supplement my notes if that is your choice.

If anyone has some additional analysis they would like to share (either in the Comments section or via e-mail to kenilworthian@kenilworthchessclub.org), I welcome it since some lines have me stumped.

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