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  1. 25 Sep '10 21:21
    This is the second installment of the (Monthly?) Chess Instructor.

    I have decided to break in down in pieces, only posting a section at a time.

    Last time, we took a basic look at the Lasker Defense to the Queen's Gambit.

    Today, we will take a similar look at another strategic opening.

    The opening is .... the Closed Sicilian.

    1.e4



    White develops the queen and the bishop and stakes a claim in the center.
    1.e4 openings tend to be more tactical than say 1.d4.
    A lot of fast and flashy shots can result in these kind of "open" games.
    In fact, 1.e4 e5 is known as an Open Game.
    1.e4 versus other black first moves are Semi-Open Games.
    All other first moves are considered Closed Games.
    There is no clearly best first move.
    It really just comes down to a matter of style.

    1. ... c5



    The Sicilian Defense

    Black chooses the most popular defense to 1.e4.
    Unlike 1. ... e5, black bypasses the play for equality and sets out to imbalance the game right away.
    One of the main advantages of playing the Sicilian is the asymmetry in the position.
    White can not make the game dull and drawish no matter how bad he tries.

    1. ... c5 doesn't develop a piece.
    What does it do?
    Black takes control of the d4 square (not allowing white to play d4 and create a two pawn center).
    2.d4 would be met by cxd4, eliminating a key center pawn.

    White has space on the kingside. He will try to use it to attack on that sector of the board.

    Black's claim is on the queenside. He will try to make the play ensue over there and distract white from his kingside ambitions.

    Also note that a thematic pawn push for black in the Sicilian is to get in d5. If black can safely get this in, and blast open the center, white's kingside attack is doomed to fail.

    2.Nc3



    White prefers a closed game.
    The main try for advantage is 2.Nf3 followed by 3.d4.
    It is true that white loses a center pawn there, but he tries to open the game as quickly as possible and use the advantage of moving first.
    Black is not without counterchances, however.

    With 2.Nc3, white simply clamps down on black's d5 square. (We know black would like to put his d pawn there.)

    White also develops a piece and leaves his options open.

    For example he can play f4 before playing Nf3 if the position dictates.

    2. ... Nc6



    Black also develops a piece. He clamps down on d4. White won't easily get in d4 and open the game, just as black won't get in d5.

    The Sicilian can often come down to dark square control/strategy.
    Black's two first moves already stake a claim on these squares.
    We will see this strategy implemented as the game progresses.

    3.g3



    This is the defining move of the Closed Sicilian. (3.f4 instead, without g3, would be a Grand Prix Attack.)

    White intends to increase his control of d5, and the light squares in general, with a bishop on g2.

    3. ... g6



    Black has the same plans for the dark squares and the d4 square.

    4.Bg2



    This is the logical follow up to white's previous move.

    4. ... Bg7



    This is the only real follow up for black as well.

    To Be Continued In Next Post
  2. 25 Sep '10 21:54 / 1 edit


    5.d3



    White develops his other bishop.

    5. ... d6



    Black also frees his bishop.

    .....

    Let's take a look at white's strategy now by examining the three sections of the board.

    1. Queenside

    Black has a pawn clamping down (c5) and a powerful bishop (Bg7 covers diagonal all the way to a1). White really can not make any successful pawn breaks or create play on the queenside.

    2. Center

    The d4 break is prevented by black. White can not open the center or create play there either.

    3. Kingside

    White's play MUST proceed on the kingside. White will wait for black to castle and build up an attack.

    Let's proceed a little ahead and then take a look at black's strategy.

    6.f4



    Since we have deducted that white's play is on the kingside, white grabs a little more space on that sector.

    A later pawn push to f5 may also be in the cards.

    6. ... e6



    6. ... Nf6 is also very logical. Spassky's win over Geller took this move off the map, but Kasparov's use of it later revived it.

    By playing 6. ... e6, black intends Nge7.
    On e7, the king's knight is less of a target for white's intended attack/pawn avalanche (f4,h3,g4,g5,etc).
    White won't be able to gain time kicking the knight around, like he would were it on f6.

    7.Nf3



    White simply develops his last piece and prepares to castle.

    7. ... Nge7



    Black does likewise.

    8.0-0



    White gets the king out of the center and waits to see what black does next.



    Black also removes his king from the center.

    .............................

    Now, lets look at black's strategy.

    Black will try to keep white's kingside attack at bay. One advantage of Nge7 over Nf6 is that g4 (eventually), with the intention of f5 by white, can be met by f5 from black. This kills white's chance of playing f5 himself and clamping down on the kingside.

    Black can also play Nd4 and recirculate the e7 knight to c6 for more central control.
    Just be sure to leave the d4 knight a way out if he can be attacked.

    Black's main strategy, however, is a queenside counterattack.
    Black's logical strategy will be Rb8, b5, b4, a5, a4, a3 (not necessarily in that order).
    This attacks the queenside, attempts to make white create holes, and tries to open the strong bishop on g7's diagonal even further.
    All of the play commences on the dark sqaures, hence the dark square strategy.

    To counter this, white needs to get at the kingside without making too many concessions on the queenside.
    White is also always on the lookout for a chance to get in the d4 push, blasting open the center.
    An open center would make black's slow queenside ambitions bear less fruit.

    These are the basic aims of each side in this position.

    .................

    9.Be3



    White develops a piece and prepares the possibility of slipping in d4.
    After d4 and a c pawn trade on d4, black would have a backward d6 pawn on an open file!
    This would be a serious weakness and tie black down considerably.

    9. ... Nd4



    ! This prevents d4. Black gets a little space in the process.
    Black's plan is still Rb8, b5, and b4 with a pawn assault on the queenside.

    I hate to leave it off here, but this is just a general discussion of the opening.
    From this position, white has tried many moves.
    Most can be met with black's queenside pawn attack idea.

    White's only real try to complicate or trip black up is 10. e5 !? .
    Slower moves don't give white much at all.

    I will just give one line to show how the came can proceed after 10.e5, so as to not leave the readers in the dark.

    10.e5 Nef5 11.Bf2 Nxf3+ 12.Qxf3 Nd4 13.Qd1 dxe5 14.fxe5 Bxe5 15.Ne4

    Here are all 15 moves in pgn.



    For more analysis or alternatives, consult a book on the Closed Sicilian.


    I hope everyone enjoys this commentary, and I hope it helps players to learn something about overall game strategy.

    I picked this variation because the play is very thematic.

    I will post the tactics section in a few days.

    Thanks
  3. 25 Sep '10 22:11 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by paulbuchmanfromfics
    [fen]r1bqk1nr/pp1pppbp/2n3p1/2p5/4P3/2N3P1/PPPP1PBP/R1BQK1NR[/fen]

    5.d3

    [fen]r1bqk1nr/pp1pppbp/2n3p1/2p5/4P3/2NP2P1/PPP2PBP/R1BQK1NR[/fen]

    White develops his other bishop.

    5. ... d6

    [fen]r1bqk1nr/pp2ppbp/2np2p1/2p5/4P3/2NP2P1/PPP2PBP/R1BQK1NR[/fen]

    Black also frees his bishop.

    .....

    Let's take a look at white's strategy ry thematic.

    I will post the tactics section in a few days.

    Thanks
    great post,

    i read somewhere that white has a terrible record against the closed Sicilian, when
    black adopts the French set up, can you comment on this or is it beyond the scope of
    your work at present - interested fan at RHP (please add me to your mailing list, you
    really should start a blog)



    1.e5 c5, 2.Nc3 e6, 3.g3 d5 (56% black wins)
  4. 25 Sep '10 22:24
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    great post,

    i read somewhere that white has a terrible record against the closed Sicilian, when
    black adopts the French set up, can you comment on this or is it beyond the scope of
    your work at present - interested fan at RHP (please add me to your mailing list, you
    really should start a blog)

    [fen]rnbqkbnr/pp3ppp/4p3/2pp4/4P3/2N3P1/PPPP1P1P/R1BQKBNR w KQkq - 0 4[/fen]

    1.e5 c5, 2.Nc3 e6, 3.g3 d5 (56% black wins)
    see Thread 134307
  5. Standard member Thabtos
    I am become Death
    25 Sep '10 23:58
    If you don't want an open game, why would you play e4 in the first place?
  6. 26 Sep '10 00:38 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Thabtos
    If you don't want an open game, why would you play e4 in the first place?
    lots of reasons, for it does not necessarily lead to open games as Paulfromfics demonstrated. I suppose the bottom line is that the game is defined not by the opening move as closed, semi or open, but by the ensuing pawn structures. I think the text was brilliant, for it was not really about openings as such, but strategy and middle game plans.
  7. 26 Sep '10 00:53 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Thabtos
    If you don't want an open game, why would you play e4 in the first place?
    Maybe you want an open game, say an Italian or King's Gambit, but you don't want to be bogged down in the theory of the Open Sicilian.

    1.e4 aims to achieve wide open positions, but it doesn't necessarily have to reach them.

    Boris Spassky, for instance, played a lot of open games after 1.e4 e5. One of which was a King's Gambit win over Bobby Fischer, which led Bobby to search for his famous bust.

    He even answered 1.e4 with 1. ... e5.

    Spassky also didn't like being bogged down in Open Sicilians. I have a big collection of Spassky's games using the Closed Sicilian and even 2.b3 to avoid all the headaches of theory. For instance, he played the Closed Sicilian 91 times out of 246 Sicilians at chessgames.com!

    Sometimes you have to mix in systems (Closed Sicilian/King's Gambit/etc) just to get the kind of positions that you like to play. Being universally good at open and closed games can really help all around.

    Just My Opinion

    .....

    By the way, I'm not saying white should necessarily take up the Closed Sicilian.
    This was just meant to be a basic overview of a typical opening variation and the plans behind it.

    .....

    Thanks for reading!
  8. Standard member Thabtos
    I am become Death
    26 Sep '10 01:09
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    lots of reasons, for it does not necessarily lead to open games as Paulfromfics demonstrated. I suppose the bottom line is that the game is defined not by the opening move as closed, semi or open, but by the ensuing pawn structures. I think the text was brilliant, for it was not really about openings as such, but strategy and middle game plans.
    Seeing black fianchetto that kingside bishop and not seeing white castled QS, throwing his pawns at the black king and ripping up that cute little pawn structure hurts my heart.


    By going for the closed Sicilian white is attempting surgery in a situation that calls for ax murder.
  9. 26 Sep '10 01:15
    "If you don't want an open game, why would you play e4 in the first place?"

    1.e4 players have to be very comfortable in open tactical games.
    1.e4 breeds them more than any other opening.

    Playing 1.e4 is a pretty bold statement at the top or semi top level.
    You will walk into some guys pet defence.

    You have to have anti pet defence tricks up your sleeve.

    I played the Sicilian quite a lot but hated playing against the closed.
    It's an English a tempo down and I've never played 1 c4 in my life.
    Every Sicilian player wants to trade their c-pawn for the d-pawn.

    So you cross their plan and don't allow it.

    Cannot see why Paul from Fics does not apply for a blog (he can do the endings) 🙂
    but suspect he will have to sub up.
    (I bet when he does he will pick a truly awful avatar)
  10. 26 Sep '10 01:24 / 1 edit
    Over the summer I played at a club for a while. If I played anything but 2.Nf3 3.d4 vs. the Sicilian I'd get this pleading stare, "don't you want to have fun." The ole guilt trip card. Of course it works in person, when peer pressure's a factor, so I've been playing main lines even though my record vs. Sicilian is awful. Like everyone else's I guess. I always get hammered down the c-file.

    Now that I'm back at school I'm only playing online, I should probably switch to something like this b/c I hate studying theory. Although this variation kind of looks suspicious to me. I don't like the idea of fianchettoing the king's bishop behind your own pawn while black gets a killer dragon bishop. Like in the Catalan the king's bishop is a killer b/c it exerts pressure down the diagonal, here I can't really discern its function. Of course, I'm not questioning the validity of the system or any KIA type structure... I just would not be satisfied with such play as white.

    EDIT: Agree with GP. You should apply for a blog. And Russ should give you membership for free for writing it. I don't think anyone would have a problem with that.
  11. 26 Sep '10 02:01 / 1 edit
    "I don't think anyone would have a problem with that."

    Me. I pay and support the site so does SG. (so do you).
    Natalie does not cos she's a lady and ladies get free subs on RHP.

    So cough up and let me dedicate a whole blog to your naff to be avatar.
    You just know it's going to be something corny like a chess piece.

    (I bet he comes back chasing a free sub and says his name
    is really Pauline from Fics). 😉
  12. 26 Sep '10 02:10 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by greenpawn34
    Me. I pay and support the site so does SG. (so do you).
    Natalie does not cos she's a lady and ladies get free subs on RHP.

    So cough up and let me dedicate a whole blog to your naff to be avatar.
    You just know it's going to be something corny like a chess piece.

    (I bet he comes back chasing a free sub and says his name
    is really Pauline from Fics).
    That's ridiculous... Russ should at least give you a free sub! He can't spare $40/year to improve the site? That is sad. Your contributions keep members here, it brings members in...

    Why have you not talked to Russ about this? I mean, that's how internet communities work. You give benefits to your best members. Why not make a thread in Site Ideas petitioning free memberships for you and Paul? Everyone here will support you... We can message all our opponents, post on our clan forums, etc.
  13. 26 Sep '10 02:45
    (you forgot SG)

    No, Loads of people on here do things which are supporting the site.
    I'm just the noisest. Did Blog cos I get to do thread with pictures.
    I enjoy it, not for a free membership.

    Also I'm not everyone's cup of tea (you see some of the PM's).
    And it would make me (us) appear to be Russ's good guys and the Mods
    might let us get away with things etc...etc... That will jack people off.

    I enjoy jacking people off, but in a harmless way.

    I'd say something and everyone would agree cos I'm special and
    I would never get another forum row going again. That would be boring.

    No I'll pay up. It's not much consdiering the time I spend on here.
  14. 26 Sep '10 03:04 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by greenpawn34
    (you forgot SG)

    No, Loads of people on here do things which are supporting the site.
    I'm just the noisest. Did Blog cos I get to do thread with pictures.
    I enjoy it, not for a free membership.

    Also I'm not everyone's cup of tea (you see some of the PM's).
    And it would make me (us) appear to be Russ's good guys and the Mods
    might let us get aw ould be boring.

    No I'll pay up. It's not much consdiering the time I spend on here.
    I can understand you enjoy it, and good on ya for it. However, it's absolutely an injustice that you couldn't get a membership (or some equivalent reward) if you wanted one. When I think of the 2 best contributing members, it's without a doubt you and Paul. You're both posting in the forum all the time and handing out advice. You're both good players. Giving out free memberships and the like serves as an incentive to the community. It's little wonder this forum suffers.

    Maybe if a few memberships were dished out we'd have more of the top players posting here, maybe some of the better players wouldn't have left. Most of the biggest sites online have similar systems: Digg, Reddit, GameFAQs, Amazon, etc. That's because it works. It encourages people to contribute and not stay silent. Encourages growth. You guys should really consider making a thread in Site Ideas, I'll even do it myself with either of your permissions.
  15. 26 Sep '10 08:53
    Thanks for the kind words DivGradCurl.
    I'm glad you enjoy my posts.

    I do these posts with the hope that it will increase someone's understanding (and enjoyment) of this game of ours.

    It's not intended for personal profit.

    I'd love to get a free membership, but as greenpawn stated it's not really fair to the other guys.


    Also, can you imagine if I did get one. Every player on the top 100 of the rating table would begin to write blogs. The site would be overrun with all these posts of people shooting for the free membership.

    Have you ever seen a Texas Hold Em Poker freeroll? Ten thousand players enter a single free tournament just for their share of a measly $50. First, is usually only about $10 or so, but the fact that it's free brings out everyone. 🙂

    ..............

    I intend to renew my membership soon. I have a big wish list written down, and resubscribing to this site is on it.

    ...............

    Until then, I'll just keep these forum posts coming.

    Hopefully, players will be able to learn something from these. 🙂