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I've played the c3 sicilian for years, now. I've supported it mainly because I liked being able to immediately avoid all of the theory that black might know of their favorite sicilian varations, and I figure I'm almost certain to be more familiar with the c3 variation than they are.
Still, I tend to feel a little uncomfortable playing it, and my results with it thus far in tournament play have been mixed, and among top players, it's played, but rarely.
Thoughts? Should I abandon it and stick to main lines?
You have the option of other anti-sicilians as well. For instance, the closed sicilian (2. Nc3), or my personal go-to, the Bb5 Sicilian.
I like c3, but I do understand you are trading off a somewhat loss of Whites first move advantage/initiative to try take your Sicilian loving opponent out of his comfort zone.
When it works, it works a treat and I've had some quick kills with it. But when it doesn't work it can be a real pain in the .......
Foxy Videos did a very nice series on the c3 sicilian which covers lots of lines and points out good chances for white in most of them, though the presentation gets a bit dry after the 2nd or 3rd video. A long series, but worth it if you choose to stick with the c3.
The c3 Sicilian is sound and logical. I read of one top GM that has around a 3000 performance rating with it! I don't know who it is though, and I suppose I could be wrong.
The top GM I know of that plays if often is Tiviakov, but I'd be amazed if he had that high a rating with it!
Sveshnikov has played it pretty much his entire career. Howell likes it too. It's a respectable anti-Sicilian; black can equalise if he knows his onions, of course.
The comment I noted though was you feel a little uncomfortable with 2.c3 and have achieved mixed results. That is possibly a sign you should play something else. Maybe you should take the plunge and go into the heavy theory of the Open Sicilian!
I always maintain the way to challenge the Sicilian is to play the Open variations. It's out of print but copies can be found: Scottish IM David Levy's old book for Batsford, "Sacrifices in the Sicilian", is a wonderful book which could give you a taste for the blood and mayhem of the Open lines, also it teaches many of the thematic sacrificial ideas in those lines.
For amateur chess it is just fine, almost surely a better choice than the open sicilians.
Yeah, I'm trying to get past the point where I'm only playing in club tournaments so that I can actually start winning those club tournaments... (which would require me to perform about 200 rating points higher than I'm currently performing). In your opinion, though, it's not simply inferior to open sicilians, allowing too much easy counterplay?
My rating is currently slightly over 1800, but my average performance rating since returning to chess is roughly 2000. Are you saying that I should abandon the alapin to progress, then? That's what this is all about.
This is USCF, over the board play, by the way.
I believe that 2Nc3 can lead to the grand prix attack, with e4, f4 which is kind of nice.
I gave up playing the Alapin (and buying multiple Alapin books) after breaking USCF 1800, repeatedly. Everyone in the USCF A Class (who played the Sicilian) seemed quite well prepared against it.
But I also gave up playing 1) e4 altogether, just too tired of buying specialized opening books for the dozen or so major systems that black can throw at you after 1) e4.
Presently, "openings" comprise less than 10 percent of my study time. Great relief.
Build yourself an opening repetoire for Black first, then just "turn it around" and play a reversed system with White. Your opening work is done, at least until you reach Expert Class; then it's time for another re-invention.
Better to focus your studies on other facets of the game in order to improve. Otherwise you'll need dozens of specialized books just to play 1) e4 or 1) d4.
Thematic middlegames (that you are familiar with) and endgame knowledge are what ultimately wins games. It doesn't matter one jot if their respective starting point is judged a level position.
I had been using mainly the Bb5 anti-sicilians, but I find nothing wrong with 2.c3. Yes, Black can equalize, so what? After equalizing, there is a game of chess ahead...
I can recall the late GM Efim Geller when he was coach of the Greek national team. At an international encounter against a weaker opponent, one of the Greek players had a position which was quite close to a dead draw. Geller was rather pleased though, and when asked why he smiled when he looked at the board, he said: "The position is equal. The players are not" (or something close to that, my Russian are quite poor).
For the record, our player won that game rather easily.
I guess tha'ts a good point, pfren... If I minimize the lines I need to know out of the opening, then I just become more familiar with the positions that arise than my opponents typically will be, even if they are = to a computer... I'll really have to think it over, I suppose.
I didn't even know that black could equalize. White can't maintain even the slightest edge after 2. c3?
Sounds to me that you simply aren't happy playing it. Why not try to find something you enjoy playing, even if you lose at first? If you enjoy it you will get better at it because you will be more enthusiastic. There should be some fun with the work.
Well, Sergey Tiviakov (the guy with the 2980+ performance using the Alapin as white) has said that he could not find any real advantage for white even in the odd Romanishin variation 2.c3 Qa5!? At least Sergei Movsesian has made a fortune using it as Black.
The current trand is the variation 2...Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cd4 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.cd4 d6 7.Bc4 de5!? where white has a hard time proving anything.
But, I will repeat it: White's intention in the c3-sicilian is certainly NOT proving any theoretical advantage, but playing HIS style of game.
Statistics only tell us how badly and frequently an opening is misplayed, and hardly something more than that.
Oh, and of course grandmasters do not pay the slightest attention to the computer's evaluations in variations like this one: In balanced positions where there are plenty of candidate moves of approximately same weight, computers tend to evaluate as better the move that may give rise to cheap tricks, and not the positionally sounder one.
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