The Classical Sicilian – How to Beat 1.e4 with GM Bryan Smith
Put your opponents on the defensive with a classic counter-attacking weapon against 1.e4 – the Classical Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6).
The Classical Sicilian is an excellent opening choice for a Black player who wants to play uncompromising chess, leading to sharp as well as creative positions. One of the main advantages of playing the Classical Sicilian is that it is not as theoretically explored as the Sicilian Najdorf, nor as forcing as the Sicilian Dragon.
Not only will you frustrate White players used to trying their pet lines against Black’s most common variations in the Sicilian Defense, they’ll instead face a line they didn’t expect at all. The Classical Sicilian also gives you excellent winning chances due to its complexities. It is a highly flexible, tricky, and double-edged opening with which Black can avoid premature simplifications and confidently go for the full point.
The Classical Sicilian was a huge favorite of a young Vladimir Kramnik in the mid-90s and even Gary Kasparov in the 2000s…and won them both dozens of beautiful games against elite opponents.
An Introduction to the Classical Sicilian
5…Nc6 is a natural move with which Black brings the knight out to its most natural square. The Classical Sicilian is one of the earliest variations of the Sicilian Defense. It originated with the great opening inventor Louis Paulsen in the 19th century. It’s interesting to know that Louis Paulsen invented many key ideas in the Sicilian Defense. He was, for example, the first player to play the Boleslavsky Variation and also the Sicilian Dragon.
Instead of playing a pawn move like 5…a6 (the Najdorf) or 5…g6 (the Dragon)… black develops a piece, keeping his options open for how to place the pawns — this is LOGICALLY a far better idea, right?
The Classical Sicilian can arise from two different move orders – 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 and 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6.
According to GM Bryan Smith, it’s a matter of personal preference as to which move order to choose. In his course, he recommends the move order with 2…d6 for two reasons. First of all, he considers the move 3.Bb5 to not be as threatening after 2…d6 as it is after 2…Nc6. Secondly, White can’t go for the Alapin Sicilian after 2…d6 with 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 as 3…Nf6 attacks the pawn on e4 and White can’t play 4.d4.
White has a number of options on move 6 to play against the Classical Sicilian. Without doubt, the critical tests of Black’s setup are the Richter-Rauzer Attack with 6.Bg5 and the Sozin Attack with 6.Bc4. The latter was a favorite of Bobby Fischer.
Against all other moves, Black should be able to get a comfortable position. It should be noted that against many natural moves like 6.Be2, 6.g3 or 6.f4, Black can transpose to other openings. Against all of the three mentioned moves, for example, Black can simply play 6…g6, transposing to the Sicilian Dragon where White is no longer able to enter the critical Yugoslav Attack. In fact, in the early days of the Sicilian Defense, the Sicilian Dragon was usually reached via the classical move order with 5…Nc6 and 6…g6. In any event, the richness and the many chances to transpose to other variations of the Sicilian Defense is another key advantage which benefits a Classical Sicilian player.
Beat 1.e4 with the Classical Sicilian
White has several setups to choose against the Classical Sicilian. In the full course, GM Bryan Smith investigates them all step-by-step.
He starts with the sidelines which usually don’t pose Black any problem if Black knows how to respond. However, by analyzing these minor lines, we can understand how the mainlines developed and what crucial differences certain developing moves make. Then, GM Smith moves on to the main lines.
Here’s a dynamic attacking Sicilian without the tedious theoretical headaches of the Najdorf AND without the 20 moves of forced moves you’ll find in the Dragon…
The Classical Sicilian is a great option… it’ll win you many a beautiful attacking game…if you spend the time to learn the basics.
GM Smith adopted this opening himself long ago… after growing frustrated with the constantly changing theory of the other Sicilian lines — why not follow his footsteps AND model his repertoire for Sicilian success? Click here to get your copy with 35% off.
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