Talk to me about the Sicilian.

crazyoverlord

I've been a Chess novice for 32 years. Only in the last year and a half have I been seriously playing the Sicilian. Tell me some stuff about it. Others might find it useful as well. What are its dynamics? How do you win with it? Whats its mood? What are its pitfalls, its weapons? But talk to me about it. It would be great to just read some stuff and some thoughts, help me get a shape of what the deal is.

kindaspongey

"... Two-thirds of this book deals with 'Open Sicilian' positions, in which White plays 2 Nf3 followed by 3 d4. This is by far the most common way for White to meet the Sicilian. White opens more lines for his pieces and attempts to exploit the fact that he will be ahead in development.
Let's take a look at the possible opening moves 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 ... . White is up in development and can move his pieces more freely. Black, however, has a structural advantage of an extra central pawn, which gives him long-term chances of taking control of the centre. A typical imbalance has arisen. The onus is on White to exploit his lead in development in order to secure an early initiative. If White plays passively or his initiative runs out of steam, then typically it's Black, with the better pawn structure, who enjoys the long-term chances. Thus it's quite rare for a state of 'dull equality' to arise. Often in the Sicilian, if Black 'equalizes', he is already slightly better! This structural advantage is seen in most Open Sicilian lines: for example, the Dragon, the Najdorf, the Scheveningen and the Classical Variations. The major exception to this rule is the Sveshnikov Variation, in which Black accepts pawn weaknesses in return for activity. ..." - GM John Emms (2009) in Starting Out: The Sicilian, 2nd Edition
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627122350/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen123.pdf

DeirdreSkye

When people talk about Sicilian they usually mean Open Sicilian. All the rest have been classified as anti-Sicilians , a term that many don't accept(that's another discussion).

The first to know is that Sicilian is not one. There are many Sicilians and each one is different. If we attempt to do a general classification then the development of the dark squared bishop defines the line or the lines.

 

1.Dragon type

In Dragon lines(regular , accelerated and hyper accelerated) Black fianchetoes the bishop.

 

 

2.Scheveningen type

 In Scheveningen lines the bishop remains on e7. It's less active there but it does a very important job , it protects the potentially weak d6.

 

 

3.Paulsen type.

 

In Paulsen/Taimanov/Kan Sicilian Black delays d6 and waits to see if he will have the chance to develop the bishop in a more active square outside the pawn structure. That seems to be better but it has several drawbacks. One of them is that white is often allowed to gain more space and better central control with  c4 the other is that the absence of the bishop from e7 means d6 might become difficult to defend later.

 

 
There is one more classification depending on what Black will do with the e-pawn.
In this classification we have the Dragon family(e-pawn doesn't move) , the Scheveningen family(e-pawn moves to e6) and a new one , the Pelikan family(Black attempts to control d4 with a fast e5).
 
 
The drawback immediatelly becomes obvious: d5 becomes a strong outpost for white pieces. On the other hand , Black has easier development(Bc8 has now e6 available) and more space.
 
The good thing with Sicilian is that often Black can easily tranpose from one to another. For example , Najdorf can be a Pelikan type ,a Scheveningen type or even a Dragon type  Sicilian!
 
abkmeti
Thank for this helpful information!
crazyoverlord
abkmeti wrote:
Thank for this helpful information!

I concur. Thank you.

crazyoverlord
666Buffchix wrote:

The Sicilian is great for beginners! You need to make sure to play OPEN games and focus on tactics. This is important for chess hazing purposes, as the chess orthodoxy likes to ensure that you will get crushed by some other Hypermemorized 50 move Dragon player. Sounds like great fun, huh? What a deal!

Sounds like a riot lol

kindaspongey

Around 2010, IM John Watson wrote, "... For players with very limited experience, ... the Sicilian Defence ... normally leaves you with little room to manoeuvre and is best left until your positional skills develop. ... I'm still not excited about my students playing the Sicilian Defence at [the stage where they have a moderate level of experience and some opening competence], because it almost always means playing with less space and development, and in some cases with exotic and not particularly instructive pawn-structures. ... if you're taking the Sicilian up at [say, 1700 Elo and above], you should put in a lot of serious study time, as well as commit to playing it for a few years. ..."

imsighked2

I love the Sicilian. It's my ONLY response to 1. e4 and it gives you a fighting chance from the beginning. However, if you play the Sicilian, you need to study all the Anti-Sicilians out there so you are not caught off guard. I work to learn at least the first 13-16 moves for all the Anti-Sicilians.

imsighked2

Nice post, Deirdre.

BobbyTalparov

If you are going to play the Sicilian, you really should try to focus on working with 2-3 of the common pawn structures (meaning limiting the lines you look at).  The Sicilian lines make up ~10-20% of all of the MCO, so trying to digest all of it is rather daunting.  For example, if you like the fianchetto approach, you will probably want to look at the Dragon variations.  If you like a flexible approach, you will probably want to look at the Najdorf and Taimanov approaches.  Try to stick to a single approach, otherwise you will likely get your ideas mixed up (for example, ideas in the Classical and Taimanov might have Nc6 as a good move at some point, while Nc6 in many Najdorf lines is a positional mistake - so it would not make sense to play the Classical Sicilian if white plays 2. Nc3 and the Najdorf if he plays 2. Nf3).

imsighked2

I wouldn't choose the Dragon at your level. It's fun to play but very theoretical and Fischer taught us that it can be destroyed with the Yugoslav Attack ("Sack, Sack, Mate"). The Kan and Taimanov variations are less theoretical. I switched to the Najdorf -- from the Dragon and then the Taimanov -- but it's a long learning process and highly theoretical.

BobbyTalparov
imsighked2 wrote:

I wouldn't choose the Dragon at your level. It's fun to play but very theoretical and Fischer taught us that it can be destroyed with the Yugoslav Attack ("Sack, Sack, Mate"). The Kan and Taimanov variations are less theoretical. I switched to the Najdorf -- from the Dragon and then the Taimanov -- but it's a long learning process and highly theoretical.

Virtually every Sicilian line is "highly theoretical" - it is one of the most played openings over the last 100 years!

 

Fischer's approach is worth studying, but it is not as easy as he makes it sound.  Nakamura played a few very sharp games in the Dragon at Gibraltar this year.

imsighked2

I taught an incarcerated kid (who had talent) the Yugoslav Attack and he mastered it immediately. He could destroy the Dragon, even against people who had studied it a long time. There is a reason the Dragon is rarely seen at top level anymore.

BobbyTalparov
imsighked2 wrote:

I taught an incarcerated kid (who had talent) the Yugoslav Attack and he mastered it immediately. He could destroy the Dragon, even against people who had studied it a long time. There is a reason the Dragon is rarely seen at top level anymore.

The Yugoslav attack is the most critical line against the Dragon, but it is not a refutation of it.  The lines are very sharp, and very theoretical, where both sides are walking a razor's edge and can fall flat on their face with one slight inaccuracy.

As stated, Nakamura played 2-3 games of it at Gibraltar earlier this year, and played it (in the Yugoslav Attack) against MVL at last year's London Classic.  If it was so bad, I'd hardly expect 2 2800's to play to a draw in the line ...

 

imsighked2

The Soltis Variation of the Dragon  (...h4; I have a book on the opening I studied) merely slows the attack. When I've seen the Dragon at top level, it has usually been the Soltis Var. Even the kid I taught the Yugoslav Attack could break through the Soltis. Eventually, White plays g4 and breaks it open.

ambrooks

Luca Brasi played the Sicilian Game and now he sleeps with the fishes.

BobbyTalparov

imsighked2 wrote:

The Soltis Variation of the Dragon  (...h4; I have a book on the opening I studied) merely slows the attack. When I've seen the Dragon at top level, it has usually been the Soltis Var. Even the kid I taught the Yugoslav Attack could break through the Soltis. Eventually, White plays g4 and breaks it open.

If you think it is so easy, you should be competing in these big tournaments and showing Gawain Jones and Hikaru Nakamura what is wrong with one of their favorite openings. I am sure they welcome the insight of a class E player ...

pfren
imsighked2 έγραψε:

The Soltis Variation of the Dragon  (...h4; I have a book on the opening I studied) merely slows the attack. When I've seen the Dragon at top level, it has usually been the Soltis Var. Even the kid I taught the Yugoslav Attack could break through the Soltis. Eventually, White plays g4 and breaks it open.

 

Bullshit, sir.

The Soltis is perfectly sound, but it requires a lot of reading and memorizing. Suffice to say that I have an old book on the Soltis, exclusively (authored 25 years ago), and it is 330+ pages thick.

So, the problem with it is definitely not the ABC woodpusher being able to "break through", but rather that maintaining it is a royal pain in the butt.

 

null

imsighked2

Yes, Bobby, when you get upset and cannot have a reasonable discussion, just resort to name-calling. Most grand masters don't play the Dragon. There are a few diehards, but most have moved on to the Najdorf or other Sicilians. You can look it up in Master Games. Why spend a ton of time studying an opening that few top level players use?

imsighked2

IMpfren, Miss Congeniality. It's ma'am to you, sir. And, I have that book. Studied it extensively.