Attacking a Piece

Attacking a Piece

14 | Strategy

Piotr Linek asks:

When I play the Sicilian with the sequence 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 as Black, I don’t even think about it and automatically play …e6 because I find it stronger as it attacks white’s Knight and forces it to retreat and places a pawn right in the center for White. As I’ve read all the posts about the Najdorf and the Accelerated Dragon, I’ve looked more into 4...Nf6 but I still prefer 4...e6.

Dear Mr. Linek:

Where to start? Okay, let’s try this: I think you meant 4…e5 instead of 4…e6 because you say the move attacks white’s Knight, which 4…e6 doesn’t. However, I’ll address both moves, just for the sake of completeness.

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Black usually goes 4…Nf6 so that White is forced to block his c-pawn with 5.Nc3. By playing 4…e6 you allow 5.c4 when White gains space and clamps down on the d5-square. It’s not the end of the world, but white’s a bit better and giving so much space to an opponent isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Now on to 4…e5. First, why do you think attacking an enemy piece is something to be proud of? This is a typical misconception, but it’s simply wrong. Of course, if your attacking move gains time or improves your position in some other way or chases his piece to a worse square, then by all means do it. But if you simply attack something for the sake of giving him a slap, then you’ll often find that the only one who was really slapped is you.

Let’s take a more detailed look (don't forget to click on MOVE LIST to see all the text and moves):

Of course, this kind of thing (early ...e5 pushes in the Sicilian) is still seen in many highly respected lines, but Black usually gets a small concession from White when doing so. For example, let’s check out the super-popular Sveshnikov:

If you love 4...e5, then by all means play it. But do be aware of its flaws, and then if you still want to make 4...e5 your bride, don't hesitate to do so.

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