Sicilian Defense, Basman-Sale Variation!?

Sicilian Defense, Basman-Sale Variation!?

Mar 26, 2018, 5:20 AM |

I don't play the Sicilian in live play. However, as I've written about before (see here), I find great value in playing opening-specific daily tournaments. In Round 2 of the recent Sicilian Defense Cup, I had lots of tough matches, but ultimately did pretty well and was able to make it to the final 12. Surprisingly, I didn't get/have to face a single Open Sicilian as Black (2 Closed, 1 c3, 1 Mengarini, and 1 rather random variation). However, in Round 3, I got three Open Sicilians and so had to choose what to play.

I've never really studied the Sicilian and I really didn't want to play the main lines since they lead to theory battles. (I once played an Accelerated Dragon in a daily tournament where we regurgitated theory for 23 moves. Yuck!). So what to play? I went for one Najdorf just to try it out, but then recalled reading the sample pages of this book:


In it, the authors recommend the Basman-Sale variation which goes as follows:

Black's main idea with the active bishop development to c5 is to attack the knight, and keep an eye on the f2 pawn, and in some lines play Qb6 or Nge7, 0-0 & f5.

UPDATE: Here's an inspirational game posted by GM Max Illingworth below in the comments (I thought I'd add it here for everybody to see with some very light annotations):

Theoretically, the Basman-Sale variation might well be busted and the book has been quite heavily criticized (see The Chess Mind's short review and longer review). Nevertheless, the opening is interesting and little known, so I decided to try it in two games. Let's look at some of the theory together with those games. After 4...Bc5, White has four main moves: 5. Nb3, 5. Nb5, 5. Nc3, and 5. Be3. We're only going to look at the first two since those are the lines where my games were:

5. Nb3

Here's my game:

5. Nb5

Here's my game:

As you can see, the Basman-Sale variation is an interesting line and it got the job done for me. Once you learn some theory it's probably even better over the board where the surprise factor is larger since people can't look up the best response from a database or book. So it might be worth a try!



UPDATE: I uncovered a link to Marc Lacrosse's old site on the Basman-Sale. Here it is.