Burning the Bridges in a Sveshnikov Structure
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Burning the Bridges in a Sveshnikov Structure

GM Illingworth
In this short post, we'll learn the dangers of the committal ...f4 break in a major line of the Sveshnikov Sicilian. Such moves signal an intent to attack the White king, shifting the play from central pressure to whose flank attack will be faster (much like a King's Indian, Mar del Plata Variation). Let's see a model example for White, from a very recent game.
In contrast, the following correspondence game shows a more balanced situation, where White's slower play on the queenside bought Black the time he needed to make the ...f4 break work.
Also, here's a game showing that ...f4 can provide good practical chances for Black even when it's not 100% correct, as the pawns on e4 and f4 are rather close to the castled White king. You can find the game annotated in Mega Database with annotations by Rogozenco (who wrote an excellent book on the Sveshnikov), but out of respect I've removed those annotations for this post.
To finish, here is a tough puzzle, testing your defensive ability while again emphasising the challenges a direct attack on the king can pose. It's White to play in the puzzle below.
I hope you enjoyed this examination into a structure from my childhood days playing the Sveshnikov Sicilian against 1.e4!
Today's Question: What are your experiences with the ...f4 break, either playing it or facing it? Share your favourite games with this theme in the comments below!