[April 15, 2018] Updated Opening Article by GM Aleksandar Kovačević:
April 01, 2018 Revisited: Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation: Bastrikov Variation

Our original main line of this variation still follows A. Morozevich – I. Bukavshin, Moscow (rapid) 2015, a marvelous tactical masterpiece by the former World No. 2. New theoretically important developments have appeared since our last update that included a game between the former and the current challenger to the throne (S. Karjakin – F. Caruana, London 2017), so it seemed logical to revisit this double-edged line just two weeks after the previous installment.

[Diagram: Black to Move] The diagrammed position is from M. Vachier Lagrave – V. Anand, Karlsruhe/Baden Baden 2018, the most recent key game in this variation. The French superstar’s sneaky-great preparation streamlined the game to a line where engines constanly claim Black’s full equality. However, it turned out that there was a catch – Black did have the opportunity to equalize, but it was an extremely tricky one that proved too difficult to find over the board; Anand faltered, and MVL showed no mercy. Can you, by any chance, improve upon the former World Champion’s passive response (21… Rfe8)?

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