If the Sicilian defense is a 1. e4 player's greatest fear...

ThrillerFan
robbie_1969 wrote:

nah a 1.e4 players greatest fear is being hauled into a French Defence, Sicilian is good fun, but the French is like three long rainy days.

 

Give me a French with either color any day!  I don't play 1.e4, but I do play 1.d4 e6 2.e4!

 

My main issue with 1.e4 is 1...e5.

daxypoo
lol- #21

i am starting to see more 1. ...e6 and as a lowbie e4 player i am firing out a 2. d4 and realizing too late i’m playing right into black’s wheelhouse- nevertheless, it is a great learning experience going against the french


as far as giuoco piano being quiet i dont get it- maybe because it isnt the kings gambit? but after 4. c3 and 5. d4 things get loud pretty quick

and, personally, i really like the d3 vs ...Nf6 and games that arise from this (i dont play the pianissimo with the Nc3 move)
catdogorb

I don't know... there are lines in various openings that I don't want to see, for various reasons. Some are very drawish for example. Others are too complex and I feel confused.

But all of that (usually) goes away for any line I've taken the time to prepare and understand.

If you're afraid of every possible line out of the Sicilian (or French, or Caro, or etc) then it probably just means you haven't studied it.

catdogorb
Username333 wrote:

Hello. I have not been playing chess for quite a long time and will probably never improve at this game, haha, but I have a few questions.

 

Beginners are taught to start playing by using 1. e4, and they soon learn about the infamous sicilian defense. Even if 1...e5 is "just as good" or "almost as good" or "better for a draw against 1. e4 than the sicilian," nobody really fears 1...e5. If anything, white wants to see their opponent play 1...e5, unless they are on the super-grandmaster level and do not want to draw against the berlin defense or something. By contrast, there are numerous "anti-sicilians" sold in the form of opening books; their commercial success is due to the fear that 1. e4 players have when they face the sicilian. Some players play 1. d4 or 1. c4 seemingly just to avoid the sicilian! Given this, I have a few questions.

Well, to be fair about 1...e5, there are tons of anti-Berlins and anti-Marshalls tongue.png

 

1) If the Sicilian defense is either the strongest or most scary/challenging response to 1. e4, what is the equivalent defense when it comes to defending against 1. d4? Is there any sort of equivalent defense/defenses, and if not, does that imply that 1. d4 is a better opening move than 1. e4?

The Grunfeld is sharp, and there are anti Grunfelds... but in general this question doesn't really make sense. Sorry.

 

2) Are there any other reasons for believing that 1. d4 is a better move than 1. e4? Like against 1. d4 it sounds like black either has problems with their light-squared bishop or decides to play a hypermodern opening or has some other issue. And 1. e4 players have to worry about facing the sicilian or facing a drawish berlin wall.

The strongest openings are the ones you understand best. Even in the queen's gambit declined, for example, it's not so hard to solve the "problem" of the light square bishop. The tartakower variation, for example, fianchettos it on b7.

 

3) Everyone says that beginners should start out playing 1. e4, but nobody says when they should switch to 1. d4 or learn to play both moves. When is this viable? Is it recommended for anyone sub 2000 USCF or not really? If not, what rating would be viable for this?

It's important to play whatever is interesting to you. Maybe you should start with 1.e4, but waiting until 2000 to play 1.d4 would be really silly. I suppose people recommend 1.e4 due to tactics. After you have basic tactical competency play whatever you want IMO. Sometime between a rating of 1200 and 1600 I guess.

4) The rationale to justify the recommendation that beginners should play 1. e4 is that playing open positions teaches tactics better and increases the chance of playing a sharp game. In comparison, 1. d4 is supposedly more positional, although there are also some sharp defenses to 1. d4 (dutch defense, king's indian, grunfeld). With that in mind, should the 1. e4 amateur NOT play the Ruy Lopez, despite its apparent strength, due to the ease of ending up in the closed variation, in which the game is not open? Similarly, should the 1. e4 player not play the Italian game variations in which d3 is preferred over d4? Should the beginner prefer the scotch game, four knights game, and/or more active lines of the Italian Game? Should the beginner play more-open openings like the scotch game, as opposed to the ruy lopez, below 2000 USCF in order to develop their tactics better? Or what rating would be acceptable to start taking up the Ruy Lopez or another opening that can lead to closed positions?

 I don't think it's that important, basically all games will contain tactics at some piont. If you want to work on tactics, solve tactical puzzles and play over / analyze classical attacking games, or just a bunch of Morphy games.

As a side note, the Italian game is often recommended as the best opening for beginners, but Bc5 leads to the giuoco piano, meaning quiet opening. And the 4. d3 response leads to the giuoco piannissimo, the "very quiet game!" Would quiet openings like this bore newcomers too much and deter them from sticking with chess?

 Maybe.

5) Does it generally take longer for white to get an attack going when they play 1. d4 rather than 1. e4?

There's no way to answer that. There are very sharp attacking lines, and also very boring lines, in basically every opening.

6) Is the Berlin wall at all recommended for sub-2000 players, or is it recommended that both colors stay far away from that variation sub 2000? If the berlin wall is not recommended, but black still wants to play the berlin defense (perhaps due to the greater piece activity black might be able to achieve against 4. d3 in comparison with the closed main line or perhaps due to the 5. Re1 lines resulting in open positions instead of closed positons), what is Black's best option to avoid the Berlin wall queenless middlegame?

I think it's a bad opening for sub 2000 players.

If black wants to avoid it, then he shouldn't play 3...Nf6 tongue.png

 

7) Another generally-given piece of advice is to learn one opening for white and at least two openings for black and stick with them for a year. But what if games get stale/boring that way? This can especially be true if you are playing your friends and neither of you are comfortable with deviating, leading to very similar games being played out. Is this potentially a compelling argument to learn how to play more openings, or not really?

Yeah it's a potentially compelling argument, but if you're not trying new things, you probably don't know what's out there. Visit www.chessgames.com to look over world championship games or https://2700chess.com to look at recent top tournament games. Nothing in depth. 5 to 10 minutes a game max. Look at a ton of games. After a few weeks or a month, you're bound to see something intersting you'll want to try.

8) Given the vast expansion of theory in the computer era, why hasn't Chess960 become more popular? I understand that it is a harder game and that the lack of horizontal symmetry makes it a lot less aesthetically pleasing than the standard chess position. It can be confusing and easy to mess up in these positions that seem alien to us. But wouldn't it be fun to not have to worry about opening theory /opening strategic and positional plans and instead focus on other aspects of the game?

There has to be structure for skill to exist. People who complain about studying have it backwards. That's what gives the game depth.

Now, if there is trouble with too much prep, we can fix that by taking, lets say, the 10 most balanced positions out of the chess960 setup. That would be practical and interesting. But just straight chess960 makes the game less challening, and even unfair (some starting positions strongly favor white).

Thank you for your help.

I reply in red.

BobbyTalparov
Username333 wrote:

Beginners are taught to start playing by using 1. e4, and they soon learn about the infamous sicilian defense. Even if 1...e5 is "just as good" or "almost as good" or "better for a draw against 1. e4 than the sicilian," nobody really fears 1...e5. If anything, white wants to see their opponent play 1...e5, unless they are on the super-grandmaster level and do not want to draw against the berlin defense or something. 

Beginners are taught opening principles.  Most coaches I've seen do not force students to play a specific pawn move in the beginning (though, they do recommend starting with the classical approach to the game, so either d4 or e4), but which the student plays is determined by their preferences (and usually which games they enjoy studying).

 

Additionally, the notion that the first move of the game determines the outcome (especially at the non-GM level) is a bit silly.  For beginners, 99.99% of their games are determined by tactical oversights which come well after the first move.  In fact, many beginners make the mistake of focusing on the opening and will end up playing 4-8 moves purely from memory and will drop a piece by move 11.

 

Username333 wrote:

By contrast, there are numerous "anti-sicilians" sold in the form of opening books; their commercial success is due to the fear that 1. e4 players have when they face the sicilian. Some players play 1. d4 or 1. c4 seemingly just to avoid the sicilian! Given this, I have a few questions.

The popularity of the Anti-Sicilians is not so much a fear of the Sicilian, but rather trying to avoid highly theoretical lines.  For example, there are some lines in the Najdorf Sicilian that go beyond move 30 (where any deviation from the mainline is disastrous for the player deviating).  Some players enjoy walking down the razor's edge; others prefer to play in lines where a slight inaccuracy is not going to cost you the game instantly.

 

Username333 wrote:

1) If the Sicilian defense is either the strongest or most scary/challenging response to 1. e4, what is the equivalent defense when it comes to defending against 1. d4? Is there any sort of equivalent defense/defenses, and if not, does that imply that 1. d4 is a better opening move than 1. e4? 

As someone who enjoys playing the Sicilian from both sides, I wouldn't say it is the "strongest" nor the "most scary".  It simply has more lines that lead to tactical situations.

 

As for a similar defense against 1. d4, you can make a case that the King's Indian Defense (KID) is such an opening.  Some might also argue the Nimzo-Indian is also such an opening (and there are Anti-Nimzo lines as well).

 

Username333 wrote:

2) Are there any other reasons for believing that 1. d4 is a better move than 1. e4? Like against 1. d4 it sounds like black either has problems with their light-squared bishop or decides to play a hypermodern opening or has some other issue. And 1. e4 players have to worry about facing the sicilian or facing a drawish berlin wall.

 

You are focusing way too much on the opening.  If you like the positions (or want to learn about the positions) you get from d4, c4, or Nf3, you play those moves.  If you like positions you get after e4 (or want to learn more about them), you play it.  If you are looking to enjoy the game, simply play the move that tends to lead to middlegame positions you enjoy playing.

 

Username333 wrote:

3) Everyone says that beginners should start out playing 1. e4, but nobody says when they should switch to 1. d4 or learn to play both moves. When is this viable? Is it recommended for anyone sub 2000 USCF or not really? If not, what rating would be viable for this? 

You do not switch because you reach a specific rating.  You switch because you either want to learn more about the middle game and end game positions the other opening moves lead to, or because you no longer enjoy playing the one you started with.

 

Username333 wrote:

4) The rationale to justify the recommendation that beginners should play 1. e4 is that playing open positions teaches tactics better and increases the chance of playing a sharp game. In comparison, 1. d4 is supposedly more positional, although there are also some sharp defenses to 1. d4 (dutch defense, king's indian, grunfeld). With that in mind, should the 1. e4 amateur NOT play the Ruy Lopez, despite its apparent strength, due to the ease of ending up in the closed variation, in which the game is not open? Similarly, should the 1. e4 player not play the Italian game variations in which d3 is preferred over d4? Should the beginner prefer the scotch game, four knights game, and/or more active lines of the Italian Game? Should the beginner play more-open openings like the scotch game, as opposed to the ruy lopez, below 2000 USCF in order to develop their tactics better? Or what rating would be acceptable to start taking up the Ruy Lopez or another opening that can lead to closed positions?

 

As a side note, the Italian game is often recommended as the best opening for beginners, but Bc5 leads to the giuoco piano, meaning quiet opening. And the 4. d3 response leads to the giuoco piannissimo, the "very quiet game!" Would quiet openings like this bore newcomers too much and deter them from sticking with chess? 

 

Again, play what you enjoy playing or that you want to learn more about.  Trying to play an opening because it is "better" or because "coach told me to play it" (unless they are trying to get you to work on a specific weakness in your overall game) is simply asinine.

 

Username333 wrote:

5) Does it generally take longer for white to get an attack going when they play 1. d4 rather than 1. e4?

This demonstrates a slight misunderstanding of the game.  You attack when your position justifies an attack.  If your opponent maintains equality, you never get to have a successful attack (see Steinitz's rules for more details).  If you approach the game as "I get my bishop here, knight here, get my king over here, and attack!", you are likely attacking prematurely and will only win against weaker players.

 

As an example, I played a guy in a rapid tournament a couple weeks ago from the white side of the Ruy Lopez, Berlin variation where he played Ng4 with only a knight and bishop developed (hoping to attack f2).  However, after 0-0, his knight was misplaced, he was behind in development, and catching up is not an easy feat (since moving the knight back would result in a 2 tempi loss - effectively giving white 2 free moves).  His attack was unjustified because he did not have a position to support it.  The same goes for white, regardless of what he plays on move 1.

 

Username333 wrote:

6) Is the Berlin wall at all recommended for sub-2000 players, or is it recommended that both colors stay far away from that variation sub 2000? If the berlin wall is not recommended, but black still wants to play the berlin defense (perhaps due to the greater piece activity black might be able to achieve against 4. d3 in comparison with the closed main line or perhaps due to the 5. Re1 lines resulting in open positions instead of closed positons), what is Black's best option to avoid the Berlin wall queenless middlegame? 

Most coaches I know do not suggest the Berlin variation for class players.  The problem is not its soundness, but with so many pieces coming off the board in the opening, the result is going almost directly into an endgame, where inaccuracies can hurt you much more than if you still had some pieces on the board.

Black is the one that decides to go into the Berlin variation, so I'm not sure why you are asking if Black can avoid it.  Certainly, if Black does not want to go straight into the Berlin endgame, he doesn't play 3. .. Nf6.  After he plays it, it is up to white to decide how to proceed.  Anecdotally, I've found that class players tend to struggle after white plays 4. d3 and 5. c3.  The position is sound for both sides, but white's moves are a bit easier to find.

Username333 wrote:

7) Another generally-given piece of advice is to learn one opening for white and at least two openings for black and stick with them for a year. But what if games get stale/boring that way? This can especially be true if you are playing your friends and neither of you are comfortable with deviating, leading to very similar games being played out. Is this potentially a compelling argument to learn how to play more openings, or not really?

You should be analyzing and improving as you go along.  That is, if you are playing exactly the same game and making exactly the same mistakes, you are doing yourself a disservice.  If you analyze the game and realize you made an inaccurate move on move 9, you identify what you should have played and next time (assuming your friend plays the same line), you get to move 20 without making an inaccurate move, rinse and repeat.

Username333 wrote:

8) Given the vast expansion of theory in the computer era, why hasn't Chess960 become more popular? I understand that it is a harder game and that the lack of horizontal symmetry makes it a lot less aesthetically pleasing than the standard chess position. It can be confusing and easy to mess up in these positions that seem alien to us. But wouldn't it be fun to not have to worry about opening theory /opening strategic and positional plans and instead focus on other aspects of the game?

You still have to worry about theory (people have started recording theory for the 960 positions as well) and you most definitely have to worry about strategy (I'm not sure what "other aspects of the game" you are referring to, but the cornerstones of chess are tactics and strategy - both are still applicable in 960).  As to its popularity - it is increasing in popularity, but there are some setups that (due to white having the opening move) give white a very large opening advantage, whereas the standard starting layout is pretty close to equal.

 

All of that said, you are putting way too much emphasis on openings.  Contrary to what Sam Shankland said after his game with Wesley So, just because someone plays 1. e4 does not mean the game will be a draw, nor does playing 1. d4 mean the game will be a win.  The average game lasts 40 moves.  Most class players are out of book by move 10 on an average game.  That means, on average, a class player will play 30 moves all on his own.  As you can imagine, the game is not won, nor lost, in the 10 moves they memorized from the book.

Smositional
robbie_1969 wrote:

nah a 1.e4 players greatest fear is being hauled into a French Defence, Sicilian is good fun, but the French is like three long rainy days.

I like to play the Reti-Gambit to take my opponent out of book.

 

robbie_1969

That's a Mango Carlsen style French! wink.png

Smositional
robbie_1969 wrote:

That's a Mango Carlsen style French!

This is actually the Magnuts Carlsen variation.

amiakr8

There are a lot of tactical possibilities in the Sicilian,  I've been playing it as Black for several decades.  Probably the sharpest is the Sicilian Dragon Yugoslav; great fun for Black and in many lines, giving up a Rook for a Knight makes a lot of sense.  If you like more safety as Black go with the Najdorf.  Online chess for me is about entertainment and experimentation.  Winning and losing is secondary.  An occasional sac is fun.  And about calculation; it's not my task to determine if the sac is sound, it's my opponent's.

amiakr8

Playing the Sicilian Smith Morra Gambit as white is apparently popular in Blitz.  In slower games it's refutable if your first few moves as Black are pawn moves.  I haven't seen it much in slower games.

Faced it OTB a few times in tournaments , one in a daily game.  Never lost to it.

Smositional
amiakr8 wrote:

There are a lot of tactical possibilities in the Sicilian,  I've been playing it as Black for several decades.  Probably the sharpest is the Sicilian Dragon Yugoslav; great fun for Black and in many lines, giving up a Rook for a Knight makes a lot of sense.  If you like more safety as Black go with the Najdorf.  Online chess for me is about entertainment and experimentation.  Winning and losing is secondary.  An occasional sac is fun.  And about calculation; it's not my task to determine if the sac is sound, it's my opponent's.

Yeah sure, the najdorf...

Quasimorphy

" If the Sicilian defense is either the strongest or most scary/challenging response to 1. e4, what is the equivalent defense when it comes to defending against 1. d4?"

 

The Nimzo-Indian, maybe?  But White can avoid it, so the equivalence fails on that point.

Nc3always
Username333 wrote:
Nc3always wrote:

Sicilian does not have to turn into a mess.  There are quiet lines white can employ.  I play the Snyder variation, 2.b3 followed up with Bb5 and exchanging it.   Leads to quieter play with positions that are easy to play for white. Objectively black is fine but he is denied much of his usual counterplay, and white has a relaxed game

 

Your choice to avoid the main/most-challenging lines in favor of an inferior line indicates that you are fearful or otherwise reserved about entering the main line. Otherwise, you would play the main line, which presumably has the highest chances for victory.

 

That is not true. It has more to do with avoiding having to constantly be checking for new theory, and the practical advantages of knowing a sideline well mean results will be at least equally as good as if playing into a main line that your opponent is likely to be well versed and booked up in.

kindaspongey

"... There is no doubt in my mind that if you really want to test the Sicilian then you have to play the main lines of the Open Sicilian. The problem is that there are just so many of them ... and keeping up with developments in all of them is a substantial task. ... as you become older, with other demands on your time (family, job, etc.) then it becomes more and more difficult to keep up with everything. At this stage it may make sense to reduce your theoretical overhead by adopting one of the 'lesser' lines against the Sicilian: 2 c3, or the Closed Sicilian, or lines with Bb5. ..." - GM John Nunn in part of a 2005 book where he discussed a 1994 game in which he had played 2 c3

kindaspongey
Username333 wrote:

... Are there any other reasons for believing that 1. d4 is a better move than 1. e4? Like against 1. d4 it sounds like black either has problems with their light-squared bishop or decides to play a hypermodern opening or has some other issue. And 1. e4 players have to worry about facing the sicilian or facing a drawish berlin wall. ...

“The most significant phenomenon of the last few years has been the Berlin Variation, putting an end to nothing less than the move 1.e4.” - GM Sergey Shipov

http://www.jeremysilman.com/shop/pc/Vigorous-Chess-Opening-Repertoire-for-Black-A-76p3857.htm

Now, about half a decade later, we can look in the April 2018 issue of Chess where there is a list of the top twenty openings compiled from a list of 2706 February games where both players were rated over 2400 Elo. One can not take position on this list too seriously because it is greatly influenced by how the openings are grouped. For example, all the Retis are grouped together, while English is separated into 1...c5, 1...e5, etc. Nevertheless, for what it is worth, some of the list entries are: 214 Retis, 127 Caro-Kanns, 123 King's Indians, 84 declined Queen's Gambits, 74 Slavs, 71 Nimzo-Indians, 66 Najdorf Sicilians, 56 Taimanov Sicilians, 53 Queen's Indians, 52 1...Nf6 Englishes, 51 1...e6 Englishes, 51 1...c5 Englishes, 51 Classical Gruenfelds, 49 Giuoco Pianos, 47 Kan Sicilians, and 45 Tarrasch Frenches.

robbie_1969
Smositional wrote:
robbie_1969 wrote:

That's a Mango Carlsen style French!

This is actually the Magnuts Carlsen variation.

lol there is a dude on lichess called Magnusonshrooms happy.png

goodgoodgood
I play 1. e4 as white AND Sicilian as black. It’s not about the winning chances, it’s about the positions that arise. 1.e4 openings often lead to more tactical games. In fact, depending on how much white is willing to gambit, they could lead to tactical games 95% of the time.
Jun_Wang

for the Old Variation of the the Sicilian(via1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6),I recommend 3.Bb5 which is called the Rossolimo. My coach had a bad record playing black in those positions.The play is mostly strategic but it isn't free of tactics

Jun_Wang

Also,I recommend the Yugoslav Dragon Sicillian for the attack-minded player.