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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Help in the closed sicilian (Read 44432 times)
ChevyBanginStyle
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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #46 - 03/08/10 at 11:35:25
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MNb wrote on 03/08/10 at 09:56:24:
ChevyBanginStyle wrote on 03/08/10 at 07:31:31:
I think that's also a good way to sharpen the game, but it has a completely different character from the 2...e6 systems and it falls into mainstream Closed Sicilian theory.


It falls into mainstream theory because it sharpens the game and hence is popular among players of the Sicilian. What is this with this obsession to deviate to get a dynamic game? If it was to avoid a truckload of theory I could understand it, but now I feel that people are on a quest for The Philosopher's Stone or the Holy Grail.

Play 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3/2.Nf3 h6 then. It is not even bad.

The only good reason to prefer 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 is because Black plays the Taimanov. Then 3.Nge2 a6 4.g3 b5 is playable. The surprise value of those variations with ...Be7 is close to zero; and then it will be a pleasant surprise ("nice, Black does not play the bishop to the most active square").


I'm not really looking for a philosopher's stone or holy grail - just something interesting a little outside the norm. One could say the Dragon is clearly superior to the Scheveningen because the bishop is more active and the French looks stupid next to the Caro-Kann because it locks out the light-squared bishop. In both cases, I believe the main lines of the Scheveningen and French tend to offer better winning chances for Black than the main lines of the Dragon and the Caro-Kann. Of course, it may sound like I am exaggerating the point, but there are certain advantages to keeping the bishop on the f8-a3 diagonal.

I am not advocating 2...h6. "It is not even bad." OK, so what's point then? There are concrete reasons for that move that are more connected to the Sveshnikov/Kalishnikov complex than e6 Sicilians. I am not sure how they are connected to this system. (?)

Also it's not like the Taimanov is the only e6 Sicilian, so I don't understand what you mean by that.

"The surprise value of those variations with ...Be7 is close to zero; and then it will be a pleasant surprise ("nice, Black does not play the bishop to the most active square")."

If my opponent thinks that, then all the better. A false sense of confidence is more dangerous than a lack of knowledge, because the first admits the latter with an even greater psychological burden. When I noticed that Palliser recommended 5.f4 d5 6.e5 and superficially described it as a favorable KIA, that got my attention especially after I found that several strong GMs were quite willing to play the position as Black. I examined the IQP positions and compared some existing theory of 2.Nc3 e6 3.g3 d5. Then I examined a secondary approach allowing transpositions to the Scheveningen.

I'm sorry, but the Scheveningen is about as mainstream as it gets. The truth is that many good ideas in mainstream theory are often overlooked in different settings. It's not like I'm some ditz talking about games I played with Fritz 8. I even admitted that I like several standard approaches as well. It is a crime to expand my horizons?
  
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MNb
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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #45 - 03/08/10 at 09:56:24
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ChevyBanginStyle wrote on 03/08/10 at 07:31:31:
I think that's also a good way to sharpen the game, but it has a completely different character from the 2...e6 systems and it falls into mainstream Closed Sicilian theory.


It falls into mainstream theory because it sharpens the game and hence is popular among players of the Sicilian. What is this with this obsession to deviate to get a dynamic game? If it was to avoid a truckload of theory I could understand it, but now I feel that people are on a quest for The Philosopher's Stone or the Holy Grail.

Play 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3/2.Nf3 h6 then. It is not even bad.

The only good reason to prefer 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 is because Black plays the Taimanov. Then 3.Nge2 a6 4.g3 b5 is playable. The surprise value of those variations with ...Be7 is close to zero; and then it will be a pleasant surprise ("nice, Black does not play the bishop to the most active square").
  

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ChevyBanginStyle
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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #44 - 03/08/10 at 07:39:07
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Regarding 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 e6 5.Nge2 Be7 6.0-0 0-0 7.d3, I am now inclined to think 7...Rb8 may be a little more efficient than 7...a6. After 8.a4, I think Black can still play the same ideas with 8...Nb4. My feeling is that the interpolation of Bf4 and d6 probably does not benefit White much as the options of d4 and f4 are cut out while the bishop is on f4.
  
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ChevyBanginStyle
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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #43 - 03/08/10 at 07:31:31
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MNb wrote on 03/07/10 at 21:07:12:
ChevyBanginStyle wrote on 03/07/10 at 12:11:12:
The only problem I see is that you need to be able to play the fianchetto Scheveningen which is hardly simple, likely ruling out its relevance to most amateurs who play the Sicilian! Tongue


In that case why not 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 Rb8 ? Black's bishop is more active on g7, Black probably can do without ...a6 and Black has all options still open in the centre. Black should make sure though to answer g3-g4 with f7-f5, so maybe 5...e6 and 6...Rb8 is slightly more precise.


That's a good line, but I wanted to find something a little different. I believe Karel van der Weide uses that move order often. Palliser's recommendation was probably influenced by his NIC survey on the Geller system a while back. I think Karel van der Weide uses that move order with the intention of transposing with ...Nf6 after White commits to f4. I've played 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.Be3 Rb8 (recommended in Gallagher's Beating the Anti-Sicilians I believe - the idea being to play for an early b5 after White has committed to Be3) and the Geller system as well. I think that's also a good way to sharpen the game, but it has a completely different character from the 2...e6 systems and it falls into mainstream Closed Sicilian theory. It's less common than the e6 fianchetto main lines, but what surprise value it once had has probably been lost, now that it has been recommended for Black in two popular repertoire books (Alburt, Dzindzichashvili, & Perelshteyn is the other one). Tongue

Of course, Rb8 can be mixed with the e6 approach, but from my understanding, playing for an early b5 can often be inconsistent with that approach as Black sometimes prefers the stability associated with ...b6. I've always played different variations of the standard g6 systems and I'm not entirely dissatisfied either. For some reason, I decided to come up with something completely different. I used to be a Dragon player my whole life, but now my attention has more lately shifted to the Scheveningen, Taimanov, and Kan.
  
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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #42 - 03/08/10 at 07:04:48
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Equal and draw are not the same in chess, in a game much depends on players' strength. As for speculating that Black won't play early ...d5 because it won't give him enough winning chances, well, if this ever happens you can expect Black to play any acceptable deviation from "dead equal" theory. After all, in many unbalanced games a stronger Black is only too happy to deviate from best theory as long as she gets a playable position against her opponents' skills rather than books.
As for meeting 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 a6 with 3.a4: so far Black has made useful moves : a6 controls b5, enables e5 and sometimes b5, etc. It is a sicilian where White is supposed to launch an early attack, how can a4 help him in this respect and how can it be useful at move 3 ? if White plays a slow setup with d3-g3 he'll be a tempo down in an already equal position, with added Black control on d5 thanks to the hole in b4. At least 3.a3 wouldn't be so detrimental. Perhaps White's idea is to wait for ...d6 before playing Bc4, but a4 is an odd waiting move in my opinion.


I am not sure if this was directed to me, but I was addressing the problem from Black's perspective. I was attempting to find such a deviation for Black as my last post explains and I took inspiration from some strong Black players when I investigated this line in a database search. Stocek and Kramnik are two memorable players that have adopted the delayed ...d5 approach. Fier and Sveshnikov also had a number of games, but they tend to play ...d5 immediately.

I agree that the early interpolation of a6 and a4 benefits Black more than White; however, I don't think it carries a great cost for White. Practically, I can see it taking advantage of an inflexible Black player unfamiliar with the subtleties of the Closed Sicilian as a whole.
  
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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #41 - 03/08/10 at 06:44:07
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After 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 White can still enter the Open Sicilian, so Black has to play something coherent with his favourite system. In the old times we were trying to guess if our opponent would play the Jaenisch Gambit (hint: beard), now we're trying to sense the Bb5 sicilian (hint: googles).


One of the advantages of the system I outlined is that it can be reached from both 2.Nc3 Nc6 and 2.Nc3 e6 move orders. It is probably most relevant to people who play e6 Sicilians (especially the Scheveningen) and are seeking a system to sharpen the game. It also helps if you're not afraid of the French. I think 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.g3 d5 is a great system to have in one's arsenal as a simple equalizer, but sometimes it's useful to have something more complex that imbalances the game and gets the opponent out of his preparation. 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.g3 d5 is such a well-known antidote, that a lot of White players likely know how to play on in these positions with little risk.

For instance, in the lines I gave above:

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 e6 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.Nge2 d5 6.exd5 exd5

After 7.d4, we get an isolated queen's pawn structure. I feel this creates an imbalance that offers Black decent winning chances. However, 7.d3 is also a good quiet line that allows White to play for a win with little risk. An example of play in structures like this is Fischer - Spassky, Belgrade 1992 (m/17). Maybe "drawish" is an overstatement, but I feel Black's winning chances are significantly reduced and I think many Closed Sicilian players would be comfortable in a safe position like this.

Palliser recommends both 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.f4 d5 and 2.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 e6 against the Grand Prix. The first line is very good, but I think the second line tends to offer better winning chances. Also the second line can be reached through both 2...e6 and 2...Nc6 move orders, so the 2...e6 player can alternate lines to suit practical purposes. Against the Closed Sicilian, Palliser recommends 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.g3 d5 and the Geller system (fianchetto systems with Nf6 tested in the 1968 Spassky-Geller match). The Geller system carries a bit of risk and has a completely different character from the 2...e6 systems. This was my attempt to find a system that complements 2...e6 in the same way the Grand Prix systems he recommends complement each other.
« Last Edit: 03/08/10 at 07:50:34 by ChevyBanginStyle »  
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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #40 - 03/07/10 at 23:41:16
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After 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 White can still enter the Open Sicilian, so Black has to play something coherent with his favourite system. In the old times we were trying to guess if our opponent would play the Jaenisch Gambit (hint: beard), now we're trying to sense the Bb5 sicilian (hint: googles).
  
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MNb
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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #39 - 03/07/10 at 21:07:12
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ChevyBanginStyle wrote on 03/07/10 at 12:11:12:
The only problem I see is that you need to be able to play the fianchetto Scheveningen which is hardly simple, likely ruling out its relevance to most amateurs who play the Sicilian! Tongue


In that case why not 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 Rb8 ? Black's bishop is more active on g7, Black probably can do without ...a6 and Black has all options still open in the centre. Black should make sure though to answer g3-g4 with f7-f5, so maybe 5...e6 and 6...Rb8 is slightly more precise.
  

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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #38 - 03/07/10 at 19:53:43
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Equal and draw are not the same in chess, in a game much depends on players' strength. As for speculating that Black won't play early ...d5 because it won't give him enough winning chances, well, if this ever happens you can expect Black to play any acceptable deviation from "dead equal" theory. After all, in many unbalanced games a stronger Black is only too happy to deviate from best theory as long as she gets a playable position against her opponents' skills rather than books.
As for meeting 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 a6 with 3.a4: so far Black has made useful moves : a6 controls b5, enables e5 and sometimes b5, etc. It is a sicilian where White is supposed to launch an early attack, how can a4 help him in this respect and how can it be useful at move 3 ? if White plays a slow setup with d3-g3 he'll be a tempo down in an already equal position, with added Black control on d5 thanks to the hole in b4. At least 3.a3 wouldn't be so detrimental. Perhaps White's idea is to wait for ...d6 before playing Bc4, but a4 is an odd waiting move in my opinion.
« Last Edit: 03/08/10 at 00:02:42 by »  
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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #37 - 03/07/10 at 12:11:12
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So that's my proposed "simple yet dynamic" solution to the Closed Sicilian. The only problem I see is that you need to be able to play the fianchetto Scheveningen which is hardly simple, likely ruling out its relevance to most amateurs who play the Sicilian! Tongue

(Otherwise I think Black is comfortable, but the Scheveningen transposition is the major bluff in this system if you don't know to play it! The good news is that there's only one variation of the Scheveningen you need to study and you're not confined to the 2...e6 move order if you don't normally play e6 Sicilians.)
  
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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #36 - 03/07/10 at 10:47:20
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I had a look at this line again. (Incidentally, I first looked at this line soon after my computer crashed which pushed me to use an actual chess set in my analysis. For some reason, pulling out the chess set caused me to think about the Closed Sicilian as though I were a beginner approaching the opening for the first time. "What are the most natural moves?")

I think kylemeister's find is perhaps the most challenging to this concept. If White has an advantage through this slow traditional Closed Sicilian approach, then the delayed ...d5 approach looks flawed as a method for obtaining independent play with decent winning chances. Theoretically, I think this is a non-issue in a larger sense, since it appears that Black is OK after 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 e6 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.Nge2 d5, but I don't think Black has very good winning chances in the line 6.exd5 exd5 7.d3 which seems to effectively transpose to a drawish variation known through 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.g3 d5. Acquiescing to that variation would defeat my intentions (although I admit sometimes you don't have a choice if your opponent really wants a draw). So Black has two options: 1) invite the drawish 7.d3 and the IQP positions with 7.d4; or 2) invite a transposition to a known line in the fianchetto Scheveningen.

As far as meeting my intended goals through my exploration of this variation, I think #2 is the only realistic option. It's an established Open Sicilian line after all, so the winning chances are there. Also my guess is that many Closed Sicilian players are not so familiar with those positions either. I think the only real potential barrier is when White holds back on d4 and f4 with normal Closed Sicilian moves as pointed out by kylemeister:

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 e6 5.Nge2 Be7 6.0-0 0-0 7.d3

Once again, I don't think 7...d5 is a bad move, but it comes back to the problem I stated earlier: 8.exd5 seems to transpose back to lines that give 2...e6 a solid but drawish reputation.

Here's my attempt to continue the Scheveningen approach:

7...a6!? 8.a4

Now 8...Rb8 9.Be3 b5 10.axb5 axb5 has been tested in several master games, but I think I actually like White's chances here. He can play for d4 or f4. I don't think achieving b5 is as desirable as it first appears. Control of the a-file appears to be a useful asset for White.

Black can build up more slowly after a move like 8...d6 and patiently develop the queenside, but often his development can become congested (e.g. after moves like d6, Bd7), while White seems to be able to expand more freely on the kingside. If this is the case, I believe White has a definite advantage.

I propose a third approach:

8...Nb4!?

which exploits the temporary opening of the b4 square by 8.a4. Instead of 8.a4, White could allow ...b5 and play a3 later, but Black can build up on the queenside with ...a5 and ...b4 with an important difference being that after axb4, Black can recapture with ...cxb4 as in Murey - Kramnik.

As strange as it looks, the main idea of 8...Nb4 is to be able to play ...d5 and recapture with a piece twice upon exd5 and Nxd5.

9.d4 cxd4 10.Nxd4 d5 seems to completely neutralize White's play.

9.f4 d5 10.e5 Nd7 once again looks like a good French structure. I don't think the knight on e2 is ideally placed here. Black can consider ...f6 to undermine the e5 wedge.

9.e5 Ng4!? looks interesting to me. I don't see problems here for Black either. 10.d4 cxd4 11.Qd4 h5 12.Be4 Qc7 looks strong on first impression. 10.f4 h5!? looks interesting and appears to be the best continuation for White. It looks a bit odd, but I think Black is OK. (Edit: On further reflection, I think 10.f4 d6! is strongest: 11.h3 Nh6 12.g4 dxe5 13.fxe5 Bg5 is one idea.)

The funny thing is that after all this thought, I'll probably end up playing the reliable g6+e6 Closed Sicilian main lines anyway. Tongue
« Last Edit: 03/07/10 at 13:37:59 by ChevyBanginStyle »  
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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #35 - 02/28/10 at 02:44:41
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kylemeister wrote on 02/27/10 at 23:02:58:
I notice that several sources consider the Scheveningen reached after 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 e6 5. Nge2 Be7 6. 0-0 0-0 7. d4 cd 8. Nxd4 d6 to be unclear.  It may be that the most challenging to the approach you just laid out is 7. d3 Rb8 8. a4 a6 9. h3 (still keeping the f4-square free ...); e.g., the Russian encyclopedia cites Hort-Vladimirov, Leningrad 1967 as slightly better for White.


Nice find! This Russian encyclopedia sounds huge.

I have noticed that several games have continued with 9...b5 10.axb5 axb5, but in many lines I think b5 can turn out to be liability when played immediately in this situation! I think I would prefer 9...d6, leaving the standard Scheveningen option still open. If White continues to hold back on d4 or f4, then I think 10...Nb4!? is an option to consider, taking advantage of a4 to prepare d5, where I think Black could meet 11.d4 with ...cxd4 and ...e5 with a Classical or Najdorf style of development.

This is just a sketch of an idea I have. I'll need to do more research, but my impression is that the position is still complex and I think I could find interesting resources to complicate the game. I still assess the line as unclear! Smiley

Fun fact: A young Vladimir Kramnik beat Jacob Murrey with this line as Black in 1992.
  
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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #34 - 02/27/10 at 23:02:58
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I notice that several sources consider the Scheveningen reached after 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 e6 5. Nge2 Be7 6. 0-0 0-0 7. d4 cd 8. Nxd4 d6 to be unclear.  It may be that the most challenging to the approach you just laid out is 7. d3 Rb8 8. a4 a6 9. h3 (still keeping the f4-square free ...); e.g., the Russian encyclopedia cites Hort-Vladimirov, Leningrad 1967 as slightly better for White.
  
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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #33 - 02/27/10 at 21:09:48
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Probably "recent" was more accurate than "existing." I had a feeling it might have been covered more in older books when I saw several games by Sveshnikov. By "gap" I really meant a noticeable lack in depth of coverage in proportion to the mainlines with 2...Nc6 3.g3 g6 and 2...e6 3.g3 d5. For such natural centralizing moves, I find this absence of coverage interesting. Part of this may be the numerous transpositions this move over invites. For instance, in line (a), 7.d3 appears to bring the game back into a line normally covered via the 2...e6 3.g3 d5 move order. However, a delayed ...d5 presents interesting problems for White when he plays 5.Nge2 or 5.d3. In this case, White's best approach is probably to transpose to an Open Sicilian, but this is not a pleasant thing to admit in a Closed Sicilian book.

In fact, the more I think about it, the approach of a delayed ...d5 against moves other than 5.f4 seems very appealing from a practical standpoint. I think Black's best approach here is to play ...Be7, ...0-0, and ...Rb8 while White refrains from either f4 or d4. If White plays d4, I think Black should be in a good position to play along fianchetto Scheveningen lines. If White plays f4, Black can play ...d5 and we reach positions similar to line (b). I don't see much point in White refraining from either of these moves indefinitely. What do you think? Closed Sicilian: ChevyBanginStyle Wink

Really the only potential "drawback" I see to this approach is that Black must be familiar with positions tranposing or similar to the French and fianchetto Scheveningen. For a flexible player of the Black pieces, I think this will tend to present more problems for White in practical play. It appears Black can direct the game away from traditional Closed Sicilian paths without disadvantage.
  
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Re: Help in the closed sicilian
Reply #32 - 02/27/10 at 19:24:45
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Ugh, I had a couple of paragraphs prepared and completely lost them!

Thanks for informing me of those references. I used to have NCO and BCO2, yet I haven't felt the desire to get an opening encyclopedia again. I would agree with equal and unclear in these positions! Soon after I wrote the last post, I noticed Palliser assessed 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 as "slightly better" for White in his Starting Out book by transposition (p. 171, citing R. Fischer - Bertok, Zagreb 1970). I do get the feeling he would more seriously consider Black's chances in a more serious book, but unfortunately most books on the Closed Sicilian tend to have such bias in evaluation and coverage.

In my opinion, line (a) (especially the 7.d3 approach) is the biggest obstacle to obtaining winning chances through this move order. I am very happy with Black's chances in line (b). I may consider holding back on d5 like Stocek in line (a), accepting potential transpositions to a fianchetto Taimanov or Scheveningen. The idea would be to wait until White has committed to a move like f4 until playing d5, but I would need to think about the move order carefully to make sure I don't allow an unfavorable Open Sicilian transposition.
  
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