Sicilian Defense - How to Play the e-pawn Openings - The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

Book Seven

How to Play the e-pawn Openings

Sicilian Defense

Like the French Defense, the Sicilian Defense immediately puts a veto on White’s intended choice of opening. The characteristic 1…c5 is more aggressive than the French, and also riskier. If you like a complicated game with chances for both sides, the Sicilian is an ideal defense.

An important point to remember is this: White generally plays an early d2-d4 in order to get more space for his pieces in the center. After Black captures White’s d-pawn with his c-pawn, the c-file is half open (from Black’s side). By playing his queen rook - and sometimes his queen as well - to the c-file, Black can often exert considerable pressure along the file.

On the other hand, White has an important attacking motif in advancing his f-pawn, f2-f4. This often gives him a powerful position in the middle game, when he threatens e4-e5 or f4-f5.

(a) Dragon Variation

Sicilian Defense

White - Black

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be2

If 6.Be3 g6 7.Qd2 Bg7 8.0-0-0 0-0 9.Be2 intending a pawn-storming attack on the kingside. However, after 9…Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Qa5 Black has good counterplay.

6…g6 7.Be3 Bg7 8.0-0 0-0

Here the simplifying move 8…Ng4? looks tempting, for if 9.Bxg4 Bxg4 10.Qxg4? Nxd4 and Black holds his own. But instead White plays 10.Nxc6! and no matter how Black replies, he loses a piece.

9.Nb3 Be6 10.f4 Qc8!

Chiefly played to prevent f4-f5, which may lead to troublesome complications. Thus after the alternative 10…Na5 there might follow 11.f5 Bc4 12.Nxa5 Bxe2 13.Qxe2 Qxa5 14.g4! Nd7 15.Nd5! and White has a strong initiative. (D)


Position after 10…Qc8!

If White plays 11.h3 (intending g2-g4 and f4-f5), Black counters energetically with 11…Rd8!. Then if 12.g4 d5! or 12.Bf3 Bc4!. Black has a solid position with good prospects for the middlegame. Note that his fianchettoed bishop exerts strong pressure along the long diagonal.

(b) Scheveningen Variation

Sicilian Defense

White - Black

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be2 e6 7.0-0 a6 (D)


Position after 7…a6

Compare this pawn formation with the one in Diagram 62. Black’s bishops have very little scope.

Aside from the following line, White can also proceed with 8.Be3 Qc7 9.f4 Be7 10.Nb3 b5 11.Bf3 Bb7 12.Qe1! followed by Qg3 with a strong attacking formation.

8.Kh1 Qc7 9.f4 Be7 10.Bf3 0-0 11.g4! Bd7 12.g5 Ne8 13.a4 Na5

White continues 14.f5! with a powerful initiative, thanks to the advance of his kingside pawns. Black’s position is constricted and limited to purely passive defense.

(c) 2…e6 Variation

Sicilian Defense

White - Black

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 (D)


Position after 5.Nc3

Black’s position is difficult. If he plays 5…Bb4 there follows 6.e5! Nd5 7.Bd2 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Be7 9.Qg4 with an aggressive position for White.

5…Nc6 6.Ndb5

Black’s game remains difficult because of the early advance of his e-pawn. If Black tries to prevent Nd6+ with 6…d6, the reply 7.Bf4 is embarrassing: note that 7…Ne5? is wrong because of 8.Qd4! winning a pawn, while if 7…e5 8.Bg5 and Black has a bad “hole” at d5.

6…Bb4 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.Nxc3 d5 9.exd5 exd5 10.Bd3 0-0 11.0-0

White’s position is definitely more promising. His two bishops are a distinct asset for the endgame, and Black’s isolated pawn is just as distinct a liability in an ending.

(d) Nimzo-Rubinstein Defense

Sicilian Defense

White - Black

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 (D)


Position after 3…Nd5

This line of play is a forerunner of Alekhine’s Defense. Black allows his king knight to be driven away in the hope that White’s e-pawn will be weakened by advancing - a futile hope.

4.d4! cxd4 5.Qxd4! e6 6.Bc4! Nc6 7.Qe4 Nb6

This is one opening in which an early development of the queen does no harm, as White’s queen has a commanding position and Black’s development is backward.

8.Bb3 Na5 9.Nc3 Nxb3 10.axb3 d5 11.exd6 Bxd6

White has superior development and open lines. Here is one likely way for him to gain the initiative: 12.0-0 0-0 13.Rd1 Qe7 14.Nb5! Bb8 15.Be3 and White wins a pawn (his chief threat is 16.Bxb6).

(e) Closed Sicilian

Sicilian Defense

White - Black

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 (D)


Position after 4…Bg7

White deliberately keeps the game closed, avoiding d2-d4. He trusts to superior maneuvering ability to obtain an advantage. However, with careful play Black maintains equality.

5.d3 e6! 6.Be3 Qa5!

More promising than 6…Nd4 7.Nce2! with a view to dislodging the advanced knight by c2-c3. (If 7…Nxe2 8.Nxe2 Bxb2 9.Rb1 Qa5+ 10.Bd2 Qxa2 11.Rxb2! Qxb2 12.Bc3!.)

7.Nge2 Nd4 8.Qd2 Ne7 9.Nc1 0-0 10.0-0 d6

Even game. Black has done well to centralize his powerful queen knight, supported directly by the fianchettoed bishop. White must play for kingside attack by f2-f4 etc.

(f) Wing Gambit

Sicilian Defense

White - Black

1.e4 c5 2.b4

This is the Wing Gambit, played with the idea of getting a big lead in development and a powerful pawn center (through the removal of Black’s c-pawn).

2…cxb4 3.a3 d5!

Energetic counterplay in the center is the key to Black’s policy against the gambit. White’s reply is virtually forced, for after 4.e5? Nc6 5.d4 Qc7 6.Nf3 Bg4 Black has a positional as well as a material advantage.

4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Nf3

Black was threatening 5…Qe4+.

5…e5 6.axb4 Bxb4 (D)


Position after 6…Bxb4

The gambit has turned out to be a miserable failure, for Black is ahead in development as well as material!

Black is well prepared for complications, for example 7.Na3 Bd7! 8.Nc4 Nc6! 9.Nb6 Qe4+ 10.Be2 Rd8 with a very good game. Or 8.Bb2 Nc6 9.Nb5 Rc8! 10.Nxa7 Nxa7 11.Rxa7 e4! 12.Bxg7 exf3 13.gxf3 Bc5! with a winning attack.

7.c3 Bc5 8.Na3 Nf6 9.Nb5 0-0! 10.Be2

Note that 10.Nc7 is answered by 10…Bxf2+!.

10…e4! 11.Nfd4 Nc6 12.Nc7 Qg5 13.Nxa8

Or 13.Nxc6 Qxg2 14.Rf1 bxc6 15.Nxa8 Ng4 and Black must win.

13…Qxg2 14.Rf1 Ne5

Black has a winning attack, for example 15.d3 Bh3 16.dxe4 Nxe4 etc.