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Scheveningen was the FIRST opening I learned. (Yes, even before The Ruy.) It provided "Sicilian Basics."
In "Masters of the Chessboard" Richard Reti, one of the leading hypermodern players who was a contemporary of Nimzovitch, stated that beginners should always play open games whenever possible (specifically 1.e4 e5) before moving on to semi-open games (ie CKD, FD, SD etc) and to learn semi-open games before moving on to closed games.
So to try and answer your question, I think the answer depends not on the players exact rating but more so on their experience and how well they know the principles of open games. As usual Estragon and paulgottlieb have good advice here, although I tend to agree with Estragon more so than paul.
Finally I do think it's a good idea to try playing whatever opening you're trying to learn from both sides of the bd - entering a thematic tnmt is a good way to do so.
One thing i've experienced in scheveningen is that white often throws down his kingside pawns even after he's castled kingside at your castled king. It might not be so great for white, but black needs to know how to defend. I lost a few positions as black this way when i was not prepared so well. I am not sure if this is relevant to you; however, I play sicilian kan, so there are a lot of lines that transpose to a sort of scheveningen or hedgehog, but now a days I am willingly transposing to taimanovs to avoid this since it is less likely to draw and will more likely be active in my opinion.
I know. The popular response will be "Sure, play what you like!" I'm learning to play the piano. I am sure there are compositions that are not appropriate for a novice such as myself no matter how much I enjoy listening to them. Same with chess.
I firmly believe the Scheveningen is just about the worst mainline Sicilian to learn for players under 2000.
The Sicilian Dragon, while tactically messy, is strategically fairly easy to understand. John Nunn said that Dragon players need to calculate six impossible sacrifices on c3 before breakfast. But once you know that, and look at some of the endgames, you can play the Dragon fairly well.
The Sveshnikov is also relatively easy to learn how to play.
The Sicilian I would recommend first is the one that was played early in the history of the opening: the Paulsen/Taimanov setup with e6. Black strives to play d5 and the lines are much less likely to transpose into super-sharp Keres Attacks and Najdorf messes.
Other openings that are perfectly playable for Black below 2000 strength include the Spanish Marshall variation, French Classical lines (to avoid some of the wildly complicated Winawer lines) and even the Caro-Kann.
Not for the amateur, or most masters:
...The e4/e5 defence systems tie you down to defending for the first half of the game which isn't fun. With the Sicilians you can often punish white mistakes very quickly....
Really? What in the world are you playing with Black then? The only opening where I think you spend most of the game defending is the king's gambit and even there you can always just play a boring countergambit move yourself to tick them off.
*sigh* AnthonyCG, I think you do not know much about chess, am I right? You don't keep up with chess theory and literature, you don't read articles on chess and so on. You really have no idea what you're talking about and shouldn't be saying anything.
I hate when I am trying to state some known facts that the highest authorities in chess have agreed upon (and are obvious) and some know-nothing decides to come along and contradict and say the exact opposite.
I didn't post it as some kind of "claim", I posted it as a known fact that is known by everyone who knows anything about chess and whose truth I felt was relevant to the topic at hand.
I swear, if I said 2. Nf3 was a good move there would be some small percentage of individuals who would come along and say "in what world is Nf3 a good move, Nf3 is a terrible move". Obviously I can't answer all that nonsense.
Once a chessplayer is fundamentally sound which can come at any playing level why not the sicilians, one of the best fighting defences at black's disposal. It is a very complex system in a complex game but if that style suites you, the time spent learning and studying this line of play right on into the transpositions will serve you well.
What's the theoretical strength of the Keres Attack right now against the Scheveningen? I heard that that attack has discouraged many from playing the Scheveningen, but I also heard that Hou Yifan and others might have come up with some new ideas on how to play that variation as Black and that the attack might not be as fearsome as once thought.
I played it for over a year when I was at the 1850-1900 level. It was a struggle to master all the subtle nuances of the defense, though I had some spectacular victories with it--and some horrible defeats.
I eventually decided the defense was too difficult for me, though there are other players for whom the Sicilian feels right at home.
I'd say give it a try and see how it goes. What have you got to lose? Even if you lose every game, you'll still be playing chess, and invariably some insights and knowledge will trickle through to enhance your game in the future, no matter what defense you end up playing down the line.
The Keres is still very topical, but there have been several antidotes for Black to try. One of the most interesting defenders against the Keres in recent years has been Hou Yifan. Take a look at her games!
For an intermediate player (1400-1800), would the Sicilian Najdorf's Bg5 lines or the Sicilian Scheveningen's Keres Attack be more difficult to play?
From personal experience, the Najdorf Bg5 looks simple enough for Black (Be7, Nd7, etc.). But, I also know that there are a lot of tricks and traps in that opening, such as various forcing lines. On the other hand, the Keres Attack is tough but I heard that there are ways to counter it.
Asking if you should give your opponent a loaded gun or just a hunting knife isn't the right question for 1400-1800 rated players. Play something a little safer and more logical, try to equalize first and win later!
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