Nigel Short is off to a fantastic start in Reggio Emilia, winning his first two games against Gashimov and Morozevich. A surprising debut, considering his less than stellar performance in London earlier this month. In London, Nigel played very interesting sidelines, deviating from book as early as possible to avoid any theoretical battles with the world’s elite. This was not entirely the case in Reggio Emilia. In his first game with Gashimov, Nigel played the white side of the Sicilian Najdorf, English attack with 6.Be3, however after 6…e5 retreated his knight to the modest post on f3 and then castled kingside. This classical setup is not as daring as going queenside and trying to light up black’s king with a pawn storm. However, while modest, it’s also solid, and tempted Gashimov into a potentially reckless sacrifice.
In his second game, again with the white pieces, Nigel played a fashionable opening, this time in the French. Perhaps feeling frisky after his first win, he went all out in his second game against Moro, castling queenside and launching a kinghunt. It’s good to see Nigel back in form. I wonder if he may have performed better in London if he had not played such provocative openings. After two rounds in Reggio Emilia, he leads the field by half a point.