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It prevents Nb5-c7. That's the main point behind the move. Just take a look at the disaster a careless move like 6...g6? could lead to. 6...a6 is not the only option, though. Black can try for instance 6...Bf5 (which is indeed more popular), intending to reply to 7.Nb5 with 7...Rc8. 6..e6 is another common move. A good reason to prefer 6...a6 could be ...

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