A Sicilian Idea You Must Know

A Sicilian Idea You Must Know

| 27 | Tactics

There are some ideas associated with certain openings. For example, mention a pawn minority attack to any experienced chess player and he will immediately visualize the Carlsbad Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined.

If you ask me to name the most typical idea of the Sicilian Defense, the answer is going to be easy.  

Of course it is the Rxc3 sacrifice!

There are about a dozen different major variations in the Sicilian, and this exchange sacrifice is typical pretty much for all of them!

Of course, when White castles queenside this sacrifice is a no brainer as it completely ruins the pawn shield around White's king. It is amazing that sometimes even strong grandmasters fall for this simple Sicilian idea, just like in the next famous game:

Kasparov severely criticized his opponent for allowing this exchange sacrifice.

image via wikipedia

Indeed it is surprising that a chess player of GM Movsesian's class would forget about one of the most basic Sicilian ideas.

But what if White castles to the kingside?  In this case the Rxc3 sac doesn't compromise the position of White's king anymore.

Yet, a simple rule you'll want to remember is this:

If Black's move Rxc3 doubles White's pawns (in other words, White cannot recapture with a piece) and Black wins the central e4 pawn, then the exchange sac is almost always a good idea.

There are hundreds of games to demonstrate this simple concept, but I want to offer you the games of GM Simagin, because he was one of the first players who employed this sac on a regular basis.

The next two games could be an excellent illustration for my article "Do People Learn From Their Mistakes?" which you can read here. Look at the next game played in the Moscow Championship, 1947:

White got a very painful lesson about the danger of the Rxc3 sacrifice. Now take a look at the game played by the same opponents 10 years later in the Soviet Championship:

It is funny that in the semifinal of the same Soviet Championship in 1957, Simagin won another game with the same textbook sacrifice!

In the next game, Rxc3 is not really a sacrifice, since Black recovers the exchange right away. Of course, the positional consequences are equally bad for White:

When I was a kid, the book of selected GM Simagin games was one of my favorites! I liked his very original style and also I played the same variations of the Sicilian Defense, so I learned a lot from Simagin's games.

Many years later I was proud to play a game that would make GM Simagin happy:

I am sure that from now on you won't miss an opportunity to ruin your opponent's position with a timely Rxc3 sacrifice!


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