Is the Sicilian meant for chess experts only?

quadibloc

In Masters of the Chessboard, Richard Reti wrote:

"A beginner should avoid Queen's Gambit and French Defence and play open games instead! While he may not win as many games at first, he will in the long run be ambly compensated by acquiring a thorough knowledge of the game."

Fred Reinfeld often echoed this; for example, in The Complete Chess Player, he wrote

"The inexperienced player does well to familiarize himself with the King's Pawn openings before tackling the rather taxing Queen's Pawn openings, with their more refined positional considerations."

But this is predicated on the result of White playing 1. e4 being that Black plays 1. ... e5. If playing 1. e4 doesn't lead into one of the classic double King's Pawn openings, but instead into the Sicilian, the beginner is still plunged into waters too deep. Thus, it seems like Michael Stean's Simple Chess is now a better starting point if one doesn't have co-operative opponents.

TheSultan31003
quadibloc wrote:

In Masters of the Chessboard, Richard Reti wrote:

"A beginner should avoid Queen's Gambit and French Defence and play open games instead! While he may not win as many games at first, he will in the long run be ambly compensated by acquiring a thorough knowledge of the game."

Fred Reinfeld often echoed this; for example, in The Complete Chess Player, he wrote

"The inexperienced player does well to familiarize himself with the King's Pawn openings before tackling the rather taxing Queen's Pawn openings, with their more refined positional considerations."

But this is predicated on the result of White playing 1. e4 being that Black plays 1. ... e5. If playing 1. e4 doesn't lead into one of the classic double King's Pawn openings, but instead into the Sicilian, the beginner is still plunged into waters too deep. Thus, it seems like Michael Stean's Simple Chess is now a better starting point if one doesn't have co-operative opponents.

both of those books you mentioned are great.  I own them both.

Jack8Marvel
TheSultan31003 wrote:

I analyzed this game a bit deeper than I normally do specifically for this thread. This was a tournament game. I included annotations to give some perspective in to my thoughts during the game. 

 

I'm a regular Sicilian player and I know his mistake was from move #1. c5 was so much better and he didn't play for any positional advantage(except for doubling those c pawns) or even not giving any. I'm with the Sicilian and I comment an inverse of Lou's comment. Sultan, you only won because the other was not even logical about the Sicilian. Sicilian is aimed at gaining positional advantage.

Jack8Marvel
quadibloc wrote:

In Masters of the Chessboard, Richard Reti wrote:

"A beginner should avoid Queen's Gambit and French Defence and play open games instead! While he may not win as many games at first, he will in the long run be ambly compensated by acquiring a thorough knowledge of the game."

Fred Reinfeld often echoed this; for example, in The Complete Chess Player, he wrote

"The inexperienced player does well to familiarize himself with the King's Pawn openings before tackling the rather taxing Queen's Pawn openings, with their more refined positional considerations."

But this is predicated on the result of White playing 1. e4 being that Black plays 1. ... e5. If playing 1. e4 doesn't lead into one of the classic double King's Pawn openings, but instead into the Sicilian, the beginner is still plunged into waters too deep. Thus, it seems like Michael Stean's Simple Chess is now a better starting point if one doesn't have co-operative opponents.

Thank's for the advice and yeah I started with Queen's gambit and the Sicilian. Well not when beginning but while having a choice to learn in a chess class. Well I didn't have a choice about the Sicilian though but I still feel lucky. And I also attended only 5 days of 5 hours in private coaching.

PardonMyBlunders

Look, any opening you pick, there is a massive amount of theory compared to what the human brain can handle remembering. I suggest you get something like "starting out :  the sicilian" and after you've found "your sicilian variation" get "starting out : my variation" happy.png  There are huge amounts of theory everywhere you look anyway

BonTheCat

If you want to learn the Sicilian, you should get one of those books explaining the strategy and thematic tactics in the opening. David Levy's and Kevin O'Connell's 'How to Play the Sicilian Defence', David Levy's 'Sacrifices in the Sicilian', Danny Kopec's 'Mastering the Sicilian', Yuri Yakovich's 'Sicilian Attacks', 'Gennady Nesis' 'Tactics in the Sicilian', and John Emms' 'Starting out: the Sicilian' are all excellent choices. Once you've read one or two of those, just pick a variation you like, get a book on it and go through its main (the bold text) lines (don't bother too much about all the intricate sidelines initially, because there'll be numerous options at nearly every turn), and then start playing the opening. Don't worry about not knowing the exact theory (after all, you've have learned about the typical strategies and tactics, so you should have imbibed some 'intuition' and be able to feel your way through the positions you get). After your games, go back and check the variation in the book again. This is the way Bent Larsen used to recommend learning an opening. If you enter your games in ChessBase, it's good idea to use the book on the variation as basis for your own annotations of the opening phase (include alternative moves), that'll make the theory stick better in your mind. If you find that the main move in a certain line isn't too your liking, just take a look at the alternatives offered, there's bound to something else that suits you.

Initially you're going to suffer some defeats, but that's virtually inevitable when you take up a new opening. Don't let that dishearten you, see it as an opportunity to learn, and remember, chess is great fun, but also difficult.

 

TheSultan31003
Jack8Marvel wrote:
TheSultan31003 wrote:

I analyzed this game a bit deeper than I normally do specifically for this thread. This was a tournament game. I included annotations to give some perspective in to my thoughts during the game. 

 

I'm a regular Sicilian player and I know his mistake was from move #1. c5 was so much better and he didn't play for any positional advantage(except for doubling those c pawns) or even not giving any. I'm with the Sicilian and I comment an inverse of Lou's comment. Sultan, you only won because the other was not even logical about the Sicilian. Sicilian is aimed at gaining positional advantage.

I'm not sure I agree here. There are many Sicilian lines where you are playing a super sharp position looking to finish your opponent while walking the tight rope yourself. The Sicilian Najdorf for instance leads to extremely sharp positions. 

Saying I only won because my opponent didnt play for an advantage doesn't really make a lot of sense to me.  Chess games are won and lost because opponents make mistakes and we capitalize on them. Sure there are instances where both sides play well but typically there is an opportunity created because the opponent played an inaccurate move which is then capitalized upon. Not really sure where you were going with your comments. 

Mrmerbs57

Gamificast wrote:

I have become a better player over the past few years, but I still shy away from Sicilians due to the massive amount of theory and preparation required.

I believe that my record with the Sicilian is worse than with my other preferential moves against 1. e4. This is despite the fact that I have read that 1... c5 is Black's best scoring response to White's 1. e4. So does this mean that you need to be of a certain skill level to play 1... c5 successfully?

The Sicillian still remains the all out best try for a all out win as black against 1.e4 however if your starting out I and want to play the sicillian without loads of theory you may want to take a look at The Accelerated Dragon 1.e4,C5 2.Nf3.g6 there are less lines to study as a beginner!

SeniorPatzer
BonTheCat wrote:

If you want to learn the Sicilian, you should get one of those books explaining the strategy and thematic tactics in the opening. David Levy's and Kevin O'Connell's 'How to Play the Sicilian Defence', David Levy's 'Sacrifices in the Sicilian', Danny Kopec's 'Mastering the Sicilian', Yuri Yakovich's 'Sicilian Attacks', 'Gennady Nesis' 'Tactics in the Sicilian', and John Emms' 'Starting out: the Sicilian' are all excellent choices. Once you've read one or two of those, just pick a variation you like, get a book on it and go through its main (the bold text) lines (don't bother too much about all the intricate sidelines initially, because there'll be numerous options at nearly every turn), and then start playing the opening. Don't worry about not knowing the exact theory (after all, you've have learned about the typical strategies and tactics, so you should have imbibed some 'intuition' and be able to feel your way through the positions you get). After your games, go back and check the variation in the book again. This is the way Bent Larsen used to recommend learning an opening. If you enter your games in ChessBase, it's good idea to use the book on the variation as basis for your own annotations of the opening phase (include alternative moves), that'll make the theory stick better in your mind. If you find that the main move in a certain line isn't too your liking, just take a look at the alternatives offered, there's bound to something else that suits you.

Initially you're going to suffer some defeats, but that's virtually inevitable when you take up a new opening. Don't let that dishearten you, see it as an opportunity to learn, and remember, chess is great fun, but also difficult.

 

 

That's good advice, Bon!!  Very helpful for a stressed out patzer like me!

Ashvapathi

white players generally will play following against Sicilian: 

1) anti-sicilian

   a.GrandPrix & its variants,

   b. Alapin & delayed alapin

   c. Smith morra,

   d. Rossalimo type

   e. closed sicilian

2) kings indian attack

3) English -yugoslav type attack with opp castling

4) Fischer sozin type attack

5) moroczy bind 

6) short castle & f4

So, there are about 10 mainlines to prepare. That's a lot of theory for a beginner. Even if you don't actually study the theory, still you need a way to deal with these lines. 

I don't think Sicilian is for experts only but Sicilian is also not for rank beginners because of so many possible lines. 

Trying to play the asymmetric e4 openings(particularly Sicilian) by just using opening principles is very difficult. There is no symmetry. More importantly, these asymmetric e4 defenses (particularly sicilian) violate all opening principles. They keep moving the same piece again and again. Too many pawn moves in the opening. Giving up space and/or centre control voluntorily. So, black seemingly hands white everything white would want to gain from an opening. So, after that, how does both sides proceed? Both sides are unlikely to know about the plans if thet have not studied that opening. White in sicilian has a slightly easier task because he can still somewhat depend on opening principles. But, black has to know what he is doing. Otherwise, he'll get slaughtered very quickly.

In conclusion, Sicilian is a tricky opening posing challenges for both sides and best case for black to fight for equality against e4. But, it does require lot of studying and preparation. So, it's better for beginners (say under 1400) to avoid it.

BonTheCat

Ashavapthi: The OP could hardly be called a pure beginner. He's clearly strong enough to start learning an opening like the Sicilian.

SeniorPatzer: Yes, Bent Larsen was a very wise man. In his writings he imparted many a gem of chess wisdom. He also said: 'The important thing isn't what you exchange, what matters is what remains on the board.' and the paradoxical 'It's not important to be winning, the important thing is to have winning chances.' (obviously not to be taken quite that literally).

Ashvapathi

I didn't mean the OP or anyone in particular. Just saying in generally, it is too much load for beginners.

Chessflyfisher

Yes.

kindaspongey

https://web.archive.org/web/20140627112552/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen24.pdf

https://web.archive.org/web/20140627063241/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen145.pdf

https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/946.pdf

https://web.archive.org/web/20140627122350/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen123.pdf