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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Open game

e4The opening move e4 is known as the Kings Pawn and is the most popular opening move in chess with some calling it ‘best by test’. The second most popular is d4 which is the Queen’s Pawn Game and you don’t see much else apart from these two opening moves which follow the opening principle of taking control of the centre.

In response to e4 the most popular reply now is c5 which is the Sicilian Defence which is meant to be the strongest opening response but here we look at e5 which is the Open Game and is more commonly seen amongst beginners and juniors, e6 would be the French opening for the completeness of a third option!

The reason for that is it adopts the strategy of mirroring white if you don’t know what else to do! Mirroring is not a sustainable long term strategy in the game but you will get away with it for a few moves which is why you see it so often when people haven’t practised a particular opening.e4-e5

You can see that by far the most popular response to this is Nf3 (look at the percentages just under the board) which we’ll look at in the next post as a continuation of the Open Game.

Well that’s the first post as the purpose here is to cover opening moves in short sections that you can refer to by reference to the category or tags. It also makes it easier to write! See you in the next post for white’s second move.