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Sicilian Endgames: The Lines

  • GM BryanSmith
  • | May 29, 2014
  • | 7946 views
  • | 9 comments

Wrapping up my series about endgames from the Sicilian, we will be discussing the relevance of the major open lines in that structure: the c- and d-files.

In the basic Open Sicilian structure, White generally has primacy on the d-file and Black on the c-file. Indeed, how Black deals with the problem of the d-file affects the whole character of the game - if he plays ...e6 it is a Scheveningen, if ...e5 it is a Boleslavsky System, and if the e-pawn stays on e7 (thus keeping d6 solidly defended) it is a Dragon. Meanwhile, across the spectrum of Sicilians, there is one thing in common: the importance of the ...d5 break. In this way, Black can fight back and even assume the initiative on the d-file. In this instructive game by Tal, Black manages to make this break under good circumstances and eventually overruns White's position:

Mikhail Tal | Image from the Dutch National Archives & Spaarnestad Photo / Wikipedia

Another kind of metamorphosis can happen when Black captures a minor piece (usually a bishop) on d3. White often has a choice whether to recapture with the pawn on c2 or with some other piece:

More often than not, the capture with the pawn is preferable. Although it shuts down the d-file - and in some cases appears, at least superficially, to expose the white king - capturing with the pawn (as I did in the above position) does several things. By fully opening the c-file White relieves pressure against c2 and allows him to challenge, and often usurp, the c-file. Additionally, by capturing with the pawn, White strengthens e4, usually blunting a bishop on the long diagonal.

A positional theme which might not seem obvious at first, but should eventually be appreciated, is the idea to give up the two bishops and go into the ending after cxd3. As it turns out, this ending is often very favorable for White. Here is a good example, where Nigel Short overpowers his opponent in instructive fashion.

The Sicilian is a mysterious world, and despite the frequently very sharp nature of the game, understanding plays a dominant role in success as opposed to a simple rote memorization of variations. For this it is crucial to arm oneself with an understanding of the various structures which can arise.


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Comments


  • 5 months ago

    Wappinschaw

    You are one of the best contributors on this site.

  • 5 months ago

    hemusu

    kriz

  • 5 months ago

    LulzimDerka

  • 5 months ago

    avi97

    i got bored -.-

  • 5 months ago

    Blitz_rooky

    Good theory!! Thank you.

  • 5 months ago

    Sine-Nomine

    Thx for nice analysis of Tal's game.

  • 5 months ago

    TheGoalkeeper

    Good examples. Thanks Bryan!

  • 5 months ago

    kcsmith169

    Very enjoyable, particularly the emphasis on the fact that "understanding plays a dominant role in success." I also appreciated the reminder that pawn moves (16 ... g5! in the Tal game) often have an appreciable effect on paired squares, such as e5 in this instance. It's easy to forget that pawns can exert influence at a distance, since the connection between playing ... g5 and prophylactically inhibiting White's ability to play e4-e5 is not necessarily part of my thinking process.

  • 5 months ago

    NM Petrosianic

    good examples.  pawn play in the sicilian is quite interesting.

  • 5 months ago

    IM DanielRensch

    Thanks Bryan. Good read.

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