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    Entries in 2.c3 Sicilian (1)

    Wednesday
    Nov032010

    Reflections on a Book Sample

    A very long time ago, I played the Smith-Morra Pawn Loss (as Danny Olim liked to call it), and then later on took up its safer brother the 2.c3 Sicilian. It has been over a decade since I've used either in a tournament, but I'm always at least curious to see when there are interesting new developments in those variations. It's therefore noteworthy that the king of 2.c3, Evgeny Sveshnikov, has just released a nearly 600-page tome on the variation.

    There's a downloadable sample (see the link above), but I have to say that it makes the book seem less rather than more attractive to me, so I'm hoping that one of my readers has the book and can address the concerns.

    (1) On page 6 of the sample (p. 58 of the book) he presents one of his games against Viktor Kupreichik (Kiev 1984), which starts like this: 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Qa5?! 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.a3!? and now instead of the game's 4...e6 he mentions and dismisses 4...d6 as follows: 5.b4 cxb4 6.cxb4 Nxb4 7.axb4 Qxa1 8.Bb5+ "with a strong attack". Well, maybe. It's clear that White has some attack, but he's also down the exchange and a pawn, and after 8...Bd7 9.Bxd7+ Kxd7 White's best approach isn't obvious. Should he play 10.Qb3, hitting f7 and aiming to castle and then play Bb2? Or maybe 10.Ba3 followed by Qa4+? 10.Nc3 looks natural too, but no approach looks obviously right and Black has plenty of resources in any case. The variations are interesting, but more should probably be said. So my question is, does he say more about this in an explicitly theoretical section, or is that it?

    (2) A minor question: on p. 10 of the sample (p. 330 in the book) he offers some conclusions about the ...e6 and ...b6 setup in the ...Nf6 lines. One curious feature is that in recapitulating the moves, he gives 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c3 etc. Of course this move order is possible, but is there some special reason for it? (One obvious "problem" with 2.Nf3 is that after 2...d6 one can no longer get a traditional Sveshnikov. Whether or not that's a bad thing I'll leave to the readers to decide.) Is there some discussion of the pros and cons of that move order, or was this just an odd bit of carelessness?

    (3) In the game Sveshnikov-Taimanov, Salekhard 2001 (starting on p. 330 and continuing to the end of the sample), after the moves 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Bc4 d6 6.d4 cxd4 7.cxd4 dxe5 8.dxe5 Bb4+?! 9.Bd2 Be7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Qe2 Bd7 12.Nc3 Bc6 13.Rad1 Nd7 14.Nd4 Nc5 Sveshnikov looks at three moves: 15.b4, 15.Qh5 and 15.Qg4. The first move was suggested by Spassky after the game; Sveshnikov saw it but rejected it for a bad reason, but notes that Black has a reasonable way to meet it. The second move might be best, he says, and he gives his choice, 15.Qg4, as dubious. Black played 15...Kh8, which is more or less forced, as he notes, and then the game went on with 16.Nxc6 when White may have been slightly better. However, a consultation with the little fish (Rybka) suggests that White is clearly better after 16.Bxd5 followed by 17.Be3. (One example: 16.Bxd5 Bxd5 17.Be3 Nd7 18.Nxd5 Nxe5 19.Nxe6 Nxg4 20.Nxd8 Bxd8 21.Bd4, when Black can either stay semi-paralyzed or head for an unpleasant rook ending after 21...Nf6 22.Nxf6+ Bxf6 23.Bxf6 gxf6 24.Rd7.) So this leads to a question: does Sveshnikov give any indication of using strong, recent software-hardware combos?

    I'm sure the book will be valuable to 2.c3 fans in any case, but I am curious about the issues raised above.