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How To Fight the Sicilian Defense – Chess Strategy with IM Valeri Lilov

The Sicilian Defense – famed chess opening, known as one of the sharpest, most double-edged, aggressive, complicated and successful chess openings for Black. It is said that you don’t really understand chess until you’ve explored the Sicilian Defense!

It’s not an easy opening to play, either as Black, or facing it as White. There are simply so many variations and sidelines, it is next to impossible to remember them all. It’s a good idea to learn the general ideas and principles involved and make sure you have a plan of progress.

In this video, IM Valeri Lilov explores the Sicilian Defense, coming at it from White’s perspective. How can White not only survive the onslaught of the aggressive opening but also go for the attack and take control of the board?

It isn’t easy – that’s for sure, but IM Lilov explores a game played by the legend Anatoly Karpov, from the USSR Championships in 1976, in which he managed to control the game, creating space and a powerful attack.

By analyzing the games from masters of the game, we can learn a lot about how we can play and get more from our own games. There’s no need to start from scratch, but we can stand on the shoulders of giants.

Fighting the Sicilian Defense – Karpov Style

The Sicilian is the most popular and best-scoring response to White’s first move of 1.e4, but that does not mean Black is certain to win.

The ideas covered in this video show that White can get a strong position early on, so long as you follow basic principles, such as making sure to develop your pieces before launching an attack.

Launching an attack before all your pieces are active is a sure way to end up in trouble. When the dust settles, the attack peters out and can leave you in a completely losing position. Better to be patient and make sure your attack carries as much punch as possible.

Let’s see how Karpov dealt with it, in the game Anatoly Karpov – Iossif Davidovich Dorfman played in the 1976 Soviet Championships.

Sicilian Defense, Chess strategy, Valeri LilovThe game began with 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4, and we reach the position on the left.

This position is one that IM Valeri Lilov enjoys! White is driving forward, with a clear plan. g5 is an option, and Bg2 or Bf4 coming.

It continued 6…Be7 7. g5 Nfd7 8. h4. White has a good set up, with the idea of h5, maybe even g6.

More importantly, White has ideas of Rg1 and Be3. See how White is developing all his pieces.

As we pointed out earlier, this is crucial in any game of chess, but especially against the Sicilian Defense. Get your pieces off their starting squares and into the game, influencing control over the center of the board.

Sicilian Defense, Chess strategy, Valeri Lilov8…Nc6 9. Be3 a6 10. Qe2, still continuing development, 10…Qc7 11. 0-0-0. Castling long places the rook on the d-file, taking control.

It also puts the king in a safe place – something else you should make sure you do before launching an attack.

You don’t want to start opening up the position while your king is exposed in the middle of the board. 11…b5. See the diagram on the right.

The question is: where does White go from here? Be sure to watch the video to find out!

Improving at Chess:

Struggling against the Sicilian Defense? Most people associate getting better at chess with 8 hour long sessions studying the intricacies of rook and pawn endings or frantic memorization of the latest trend in opening theory.

Truth is, there are a number of fixes we can all apply to our game in order to start taking down our toughest opponents, no matter what opening they play. Click here to sign up for GM Damian Lemos FREE chess masterclass.

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