Notes by Murray Chandler
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3!? # These days 3 Bb5 is popular - as I played against Dan Dolejs in round one of Kaikoura - and I believe there are even DVDs recommending the move. And I still play Open Sicilians with 3 d4 from time to time. However 3 Nc3 can be a nice finesse en route to an Open Sicilian, if your opponent has the Sveshnikov variation in his repertoire
3...d6 Played after some thought. To keep trying for a Sveshnikov Black needs to play 3...Nf6, i.e. 4 d4 cxd4 5 Nxd4 e5. However White's alternative possibility of 4 Bb5!? needs to be taken into account.
4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Bg5 The shadow boxing over, I was happy to be in a Rauzer variation which I have played frequently with both colours
6...e6 7.Qd2 Be7 8.0-0-0 0-0 9.Nb3 a5 10.a4 d5 11.Bb5! Mikhail Tal's old remedy is the reason this particular line is not too popular for Black. If 11...Nxe4 now, White keeps an endgame initiative with 12 Nxe4 dxe4 13 Qxd8 Bxd8 14 Bxd8 Nxd8 15 Nc5 as in Tal-Sisniega, Taxco Interzonal 1985
11...Nb4 12.Rhe1 Bd7!? 13.exd5 Bxb5 14.d6! Bc6 [Roger makes a spirited attempt to improve on 14...Bxd6 15.Qxd6 Qxd6 16.Rxd6 Bc6 when my assessment was that White must be better in the endgame, e.g. 17.Bxf6 gxf6 18.Red1 claiming the d-file]
15.Qf4! As far as I know this is a new idea. By unexpectedly deferring the recapture on e7 for a move, White disrupts Black's coordination just long enough to cause real problems.
15...Re8 16.dxe7 Qxe7 17.Nd4 Suddenly the threat Nf5 looms. Perhaps 17...Rad8 is best here, as 18 Nf5? would be a mistake due to 18...Rxd1+ and White has no good recapture. But, as in the game, Black is going to get an inferior ending if White starts exchanging on f6 and c6
17...e5 18.Bxf6 Qxf6 19.Qxf6 gxf6 20.Nxc6 bxc6 21.Ne4 Re6 22.Nc5 Re7 23.Rd6 I played this quickly, confident White had a clearly decisive advantage in the endgame, due to Black's damaged pawn structure. But after the game the annoying computer (Fritz) pointed out Black's most stubborn defensive resource here - 23...Nd5. The counter-intuitive idea is 24 Rxc6? Nb4! 25 Rxf6 Rac8.
23...f5? 24.Rf6 Back on track - now Black really is losing a pawn. If 24...f4 25 Rxf4 exploits the pin on the e-file.
24...Rd8 25.c3 Nd3+ 26.Nxd3 Rxd3 27.Rxf5 Rd5 28.Rf6 Rc5 29.Re4 Kg7 30.Rf5 Kg6 31.g4 Rd5 #
32.c4 I was reluctant to play such an anti-positional pawn advance, but eventually persuaded myself that the tactics favoured white.
32...Rc5 [After this Black's rook is immobilised on c5, and White can win at leisure. Most of my time had been spent calculating Black's active defense with 32...Rd3 33.Rfxe5 Rxe5 34.Rxe5 Rd4! 35.b3 Rxg4 36.Rxa5 Rg2 . However I satisfied myself that after 37.Rc5 Rxf2 38.a5 Rxh2 39.a6 Ra2 40.Rxc6+ Kg5 41.Kb1 Ra5 42.Kb2 f5 43.b4 Ra4 44.Kb3 Ra1 45.b5 the White queenside pawns are too many and too quick.]
33.Kc2 f6 34.Kc3 # with the threat of snaring a whole rook with 35 b4 axb4 36 Kxb4. To defend against this Black has to go passive, and await White'sbreakthrough
34...Rb7 35.b3 h6 36.Rh5 Rb8 37.f4 Ra8 38.fxe5 Re8 39.Kd4 Rcxe5 40.Rhxe5 fxe5+ 41.Rxe5 Rf8 42.Rxa5 Rf4+ 43.Kc5 Rxg4 44.Kxc6 Rh4 45.Ra8 Rxh2 46.a5 Rb2 47.a6 as after 47...Rxb3 48 a7 Ra3 White has 49 Rg8+ followed by queens with 50 a8=Q. 1-0