Sicilian Introduction

This addition for the Sicilian was written specifically for the aspiring beginning Sicilian player who wants to add the Sicilian to his opening repertoire.

In this introduction to the Sicilian Defense we are going to go through some of the more important basic ideas for you to know about for playing both the White side and the Black side from the standpoint as a novice Sicilian player.

We also can show how very important Basic Opening Principles must not be ignored or else one pays the consequences for this indifference.

In all opening play it is important to observe these basic important opening principles as shown in great detail in our page The Opening Principles. However, it can be said that in the Sicilian more so than most any other opening it is especially important because the Sicilian is not very forgiving in making the mistake of ignoring them.

Time is of the utmost importance, and whoever makes the best use of his time in his development in the Sicilian usually gets a significant advantage.

Using this introduction to the Sicilian also gives us an excellent opportunity to show how many make bad tactical moves based on unsound ideas of how to play chess. Many feel that the way to win games is to take aggressive unsound risks, and doing so will panic their opponent into making blunders that will cost him material or even the game.

This is one of the purposes of this introduction to show you how to calculate sound moves based on sound fundamental principles of chess that you can find in our other pages like the Point Count System that shows positive and negative moves that give you points and an advantage in your plans. One of the strategies of chess is to entice your opponents into making unsound negative moves like the many pawn moves that make for a unsound pawn structure.

If this is your first attempt to understand the Sicilian you may find at first glance that there is so much to know and understand about the Sicilian that it may all seem to be a very overwhelming seemingly impossible task to ever understand it all. That is why we are going to put a lot of emphasis on understanding the basic ideas behind the Sicilian unlike most Sicilian explanations that only go into the move order and tactical ideas. Sicilian strategy ideas are hard to find.

But remember that any journey into the unknown begins with the first step, so if you just take it a step at a time in a logical order you can begin to start understanding it just like you tackle any complex subject.

If its any constellation for you, then consider this, that very few players at your level of play are ever going to take the time to try to read and understand the basic ideas behind the Sicilian. They just want to quickly understand how to play the variations so they can use it in their next game and don't have the patience to spend the time in reading the ideas behind the Sicilian, try to find out about problems to avoid, or how to gain advantages in the lines. Many are convinced that if they just memorize a few opening moves of the Sicilian they will quickly gain a significant advantage over their opponents that will let them quickly win their games.

For those who want to learn the Sicilian its best to start out with what is called the Non-Open Variations or the Closed Sicilian.

The Non-Open Variations are those in which White does not play 2.Nf3 and 3.d4. Although these may offer less of a chance for an advantage there is less theory to learn for the beginning learner.

Now get out your chessboard and follow through this line so that you will be more able to understand it and get a mental picture to help you remember these lines.

The Closed Sicilian main line is 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6. This was an occasional weapon of Spassky throughout his career. White expands on the kingside without opening a central front as in the open variations. Black has little theoretical difficulty in equalizing, yet White often gets attacking chances against an unwary opponent.

Here is the classical Open Sicilian.

Remember that Its called a Open Sicilian because on move 2. White plays Nf3 and on move 3 White plays d2 to d4.

The Open Sicilian is 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3. If now Black plays d6 he has chosen to play the Basic Scheveningen Version.

The Classical Scheveningen Variation
Named after the Dutch city, the Scheveningen Variation is a classically motivated defense.

Black creates a backward pawn center with his duo at d6, leaving no weakness on the important central squares d5 and e5. Black intends to simply develop the pieces and then proceed with queenside counter play. The Scheveningen was a favorite of Kasparov, although he often arrived at the position through transposition playing 5...a6 and 6...e6. Other top players use the defense frequently and it is well respected, but it doesn't have the devoted following of the Najdorf or Dragon Variations, perhaps because it is too straightforward and logical. White has several ways to combat the Scheveningen, almost all of them leading to dynamic positions.

In our diagramed example we will be following the MCO (Modern Chess Opening's) book by Nick de Firmian's example for the Main Line, with 6.Be2.
Classical Scheveningen

Another main line is 6.Be2 Be7 7.0-0 Nc6 8.f4 0-0 9.Be3 a6 in which both sides develop before embarking on an active plan. White can play to restrict Black on the Queenside with 10.a4 as did Anand in several games of his 1995 Championship match with Kasparov. Plans where White plays g4 launching a kingside assault, can be very dangerous. 10.Qe1 is a more direct attacking attempt, which Black has less trouble handling.


You should now see a more complete line of the Open Version with the Scheveningen Version with these games. They explains more about the Open Sicilian.

Scheveningen Variation

If you are trying to prepare a varied opening repertoire and your not a high leveled player yet, you will want to choose lines that do not require a lot of memorizing and analyzing of the variations. You are going to want to choose opening lines that give you a more solid position, with fewer complications in the first few opening moves.

As you get more familiar and gain more experience with a variation then you can seek out more complex tactical lines with your favorite variation. The more you play a variation the less mistakes you will make with it, and you will find more specific opening lines that will give you an advantage as they become better known to you as those lines that will give you more control of the game. This is the advantage of staying with just one variation until you become confident that you can play this variation better than 75% of the players who you play it against. Only then should you ever consider changing to another variation to learn.

My recommendations for the Closed Sicilian for White are:
1. Grand Prix Attack
1.e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3.f4. This last move 3.f4 initiates the Grand Prix Attack
Grand Prix Attack

2. McDonnell Attack
1. e4 c5 2. f4 This last move 2.f4 initiates the McDonnell Attack
McDonnell Attack

For the Closed Sicilian for Black are: 1. Main Line (1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6.)
Which is called, The Closed Sicilian: 3.g3, and lines without an early Be3.

For the Open Variation for Black I recommend:
1. Scheveningen Variation
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 This move d6 by Black initiatives the Sicilian Scheveningen Variation.
Basic Scheveningen

2. The Dragon Variation
1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 This move g6 by Black initiatives the Basic Dragon Variation.
Basic Dragon

The following example is our Sicilian Introduction that will show you much on not only how to play the Sicilian but will also show you a great deal on how to play better chess and win more games.

Introduction to the Closed Sicilian