Bc4 in the Sicilian

In the Sicilian Defence (1. e4 c5), which we looked at in a previous post, after 2. Nf3 d6 the main line is 3. d4 cxd4 but you can often find that players unfamiliar with the Sicilian will play Bc4 as they don’t know to respond with d4 and the bishop line is open so in something of a panic will move the bishop to Bc4 as shown above.

2014-08-12 07.15.34If you’re expecting d4 from white then this can also be a bit of a surprise for black so better to be prepared for it. Nf6 is really the best move attacking the e4 pawn though Nc6 is also possible as you can see from the top image (courtesy of Stockfish) both of which are good development moves so you stick to your game plan. Nf6 prepares for castling on the black kingside and forces white to defend the e4 pawn with d3 which is the best move for white and you see how black is now calling the shots temporarily which will unsettle your opponent if they’re not used to this position.

2014-08-12 07.25.51You might start thinking defensively as white is now attacking the f7 pawn and play e6 but that isn’t the best move and puts no pressure on white meaning they can castle without much thought which is what the beginner player would be looking to do and then by the time you play Nf6 as black white is already safe and black is under pressure to castle so much better to play Nf6 and attack the weaknesses in the white position. Chess can sometimes be a game of distraction so don’t get distracted!

2014-08-12 07.28.42After 1. e4 c5  2. Nf3 d6  3. Bc4 Nf3  4. d3 and Nc6 white has to be careful as he will be tempted to develop his bishop or knight when actually analysis shows 5. c3 should be played to prepare d4 and that’s often a move that white doesn’t want to play as it feels like you’re not developing pieces and attacking which everyone instinctively wants to do. Castling would also be an option for white which many players would do and in that case black should consider g6 which looks like the Sicilian dragon but e6 is equally good preparing d5.


Actually if you’re going to move the bishop then Bb5+ would be a better move and is a popular move in the Sicilian opening which we can look at in another post.


The Sicilian Defence

Well it’s time now to look at things from the perspective of black and the well known Sicilian Defence which is the most popular response from black. Instead of responding by copying black opens up his own space on the queenside.


This is the reason why d4 is now actually preferred for white because of how strong this response is from black. White usually continues with Nf3 to try and attack and control the centre and prepare d4 which will then be defended by the knight. Notice that black now has two centre pawns versus one for white which is what makes the Sicilian so strong. But white gains a lead in development to offset this.


White then responds with d6 defending the c5 pawn and stopping white from pushing to c5. But the bishop on f8 is now blocked in for black so will need a further move to develop this in the future such as e6.


The main line is d4 from white which black captures and white recaptures with the knight which is known as the open version of the sicilian. Black moves Nf6 attacking the e4 pawn and white responds with Nc3 defending.


Pawn to a6 is the main line and known as the Najdorf variation. Nc6 continues the Open version of the Sicilian and g6 is known as the dragon and we’ll look at some of those variations next.

Here’s a great video from the chess website going through the Sicilian Defence.