Update in the Sicilian Four Knights Variation

by ChessBase
8/6/2021 – In ChessBase Magazine #201 (May/June 2021) IM Robert Ris presented an interesting line in the Sicilian Four Knights Variation: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Nd5 8.Ne4 Qc7 9.f4 and now 9...Rb8. The rook move is an interesting alternative to the deeply analysed main line 9...Qb6. Meanwhile, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in particular has tried 9...Rb8 in a number of games, and Levon Aronian recently came up with an entirely new move: 9...Bb7. In the current issue of ChessBase Magazine Extra #202 Robert Ris analyses these new developments on a video. Take a look!

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Update in the Sicilian Four Knights Variation

Robert Ris checks the latest trends, 9...Rb8 and 9...Bb7

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Nd5 8.Ne4 Qc7 9.f4, one of the main lines of the Sicilian Four Knights Variation, the following position arises:

The reference function of ChessBase 16 and the Mega Database 2021 show that a) 9...Qb6 is by far the most popular move though b) 9...Rb8 is a trendy alternative!

In ChessBase Magazine #201 (May/June 2021) IM Robert Ris published an opening article about the line 9…Rb8 – an interesting alternative to the main line where some lines are analysed to death until the 30th move and beyond: "In practice, Black has excellent results with this variation, which I don't think is surprising because his position is easier to play. Beautiful tactical ideas were demonstrated in various games. White, with his king stuck in the center, suffers from a lack of coordination." (Robert Ris in CBM 201)

Meanwhile, 9…Rb8 has been tried by a number of top players, first of all by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. In the CBM Extra #202 Robert Ris provides an update to the most recent developments after 9...Rb8 when White answers with 10.a3 and 10.Le3.

In the second part of Ris' update he looks at another new idea: 9…Bb7 – Levon Aronian used this move to win a brilliancy against GM Alan Pichot in May. After 10.c4 Bb4+ 11.Ke2 0-0 Black sacrificed a piece for a pawn, a strong center, and an exposed white king!

The video in CBM Extra #202 is 35:55 minutes long. Here's a sample:

Video analysis by Robert Ris from CBM Extra #202 (sample)

Video runtime in CBM Extra 202: 35:55 min

In the second opening video in CBM Extra #202 Mihail Marin takes a look at the English Opening with 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 Bc5 – taking the game Wesley So - Fabiano Caruana from the Superbet tournament in Bucharest 2021 as a point of departure. Video runtime: 28:39 min.

ChessBase Magazin Extra #202

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