Open Sicilian with 2...e6 - 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4
Black can take another approach to the Sicilian Defense against 2.Nf3. He can play 2...e6 which may be a more flexible option than 2...d6.
After 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 we arrive at the 3rd important starting position of the Open Sicilian. This move gives Black a couple of new options we haven't seen before. Openings such as the Taimanov Variation, the Kan, the Four Knights and the Pin Variation.
It also leaves him with a lot of latitude to transpose to many of the openings already seen in the two previous sections. There is one opening in particular which may be the heart and soul of the Sicilian. It could easily have been covered in the 2...d6 section but there was more room for it here.
The Scheveningen Variation can be arrived at via many move orders. Sometimes as Black you may want to play ...d6 on your second move and ...e6 on your 5th as ...d6 prevents the White e-pawn from challenging your f6-Knight.
2...e6 allows you to keep your options open. Let White commit to his plan before you show your hand. One way or another if you reach the position in the diagram after 5 moves you are in the Scheveningen.
The Scheveningen pawn formation is defined by Black's pawn structure. The c-pawn has been traded off, you have played ...d6 and ...e6, the other pawns are still on their starting blocks.
There are three main variations in the Scheveningen. They are the Classical Scheveningen (6.Be2), the Keres Attack (6.g4) and the English Attack (6.Be3 - also seen with 2...d6). There are also some sidelines like the Tal Variation.
Whenever you see 6.Be2 in the Sicilian you know it's a Classical Variation. And here 6.Be2 leads us into the Classical Scheveningen. After 12.Bf3 you have the position in the diagram.
You can take this as the starting position of the Classical Scheveningen. White is going to send his f and g-pawns storming forward to pressurize the f6-Knight and the Black Kingside as a whole.
Black is going to play on the Queenside. Just as in other Sicilian lines he will be looking for ...b5 and even ...b4 if he is allowed. He can launch a minority attack on that wing and play in the c-file.
The Keres Attack is similar to the English Attack except White delays castling Queenside and attacks straight away. He plays 6.g4 with his King still in the center. Still four moves from sanctuary!
You will have a choice between h4, h5, f4, f5 to support the g5 advance. Or you can use the g-file to get your Rook in front of the h-pawn, supporting the Queen on h5 looking for checkmate.
When you have the Black pieces and you see this materializing in front of you, act fast in defense. You need to play ...h6 to stop White playing ...g5 immediately. Go with the usual ...b5 minority attack with pressure down the c-file plans and just survive White's Kingside attack.
White generally needs to mate Black's King in the middlegame. His pawn structure is not so good. Black knows he just needs to trade off pieces and get to an endgame. There his much better pawn structure will give him a good edge.
The Sicilian Defense: Tal Variation - 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.f4
You have more aggressive options on the Kingside with White. Take the Tal Variation. You can play 6.f4, then bring your dark square Bishop to e3 and your Queen to f3.
Castle Queenside and launch your pawn storm. Your Queen is ideally placed to support the g4 advance. Get your pieces into prime position to take advantage when the pawns rip away the Black King's cover.
As Black you don't sit there and die, you have plans of your own. ...b5 is again utilized. You have pawn sacrifices to play for. If you can neutralize White's attack and trade down you should be sitting pretty for the endgame.
The Taimanov is a popular way for Black to continue after 2...e6. 4...Nc6 kicks it off. It makes a good use of the flexibility of the second move with transpositions to a number of pawn structures still available.
As Black you can wait for White to choose a plan and then respond accordingly. The Taimanov is not necessarily the most dynamic way to play but it offers Black a stable path through the opening and something approaching equality.
Your dark square Bishop will be posted to b4 or sometimes c5. There are two main plusses for playing the Taimanov. Firstly if you're a positional player who doesn't fancy the madness of the Sicilian, you can play a positional game here.
Secondly you don't need to play 4...Nf6, forcing White to play 5.Nc3 defending the e-pawn. This is because the Maroczy Bind (initiated by 5.c4) doesn't really get anywhere in this variation.
The Bastrikov Variation is an interesting line in the Taimanov with the Queen coming to c7 on Black's 5th move. Black wants to get control of the b8-h2 diagonal. You're basically stopping e5 which would kick your Knight out of f6.
If you have the White pieces you can think of moves like 6.Ndb5 which attacks the Queen and gives the Knight a look at the juicy d6 square. Of course Black does not have to surrender this square to you and can play 6...Qb8 retaining control.
With ...a6 and ...b5 to come as well as ...d6 or ...d5, Black will be playing to liberate his Queenside and get safely castled. White also develops freely and quickly with nice centralized minor pieces.
The Sicilian Defense: Kan Variation - 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6
The Kan Variation, also known as the Paulsen Variation, is initiated with 4...a6. Black can transpose to the Taimanov with ...Nc6 on move 5. On the other hand he can stay in the Kan, playing for positions with possibly more dynamic potential. The Queen will show herself on c7 to prevent any e5 mischief.
As Black you will not develop a minor piece in the first 5 moves! And yet you are absolutely fine. Every move is purposeful. You can play for a specific structure every time no matter what White chooses to do.
You can get a typical Scheveningen structure with the usual ...a6 and ...b5 on the Queenside. Your Bishops go to e7 and b7, Knights to d7 and f6.
The heavies will control the c-file. As White you will be playing for a Kingside attack. The game will likely pivot on the outcome of this attack. If the Black King is not mated or significant damage is not sustained preventing this, then Black's better pawn structure often stands to him in the long run.
The Sicilian Defense: Reti Variation - 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.c4
What should you do when Black plays the Kan Variation against you. Clamp down on your 5th rank with the Maroczy Bind formation. This move 5.c4 is known as the Reti Variation.
You tell Black straight away to forget about any operations on the c-file. It will remain full of traffic. You are also controlling the light squares on the 5th rank. The crucial points here are b5 and d5. These are the liberating moves that Black needs to get his pieces the activity they crave.
What if you're Black and you see this being thrown at you? You can still play your game with ...b6 to allow the light square Bishop a post at b7. And ...d6 is okay. Playing in a Scheveningen set-up is nice and natural. It even allows for a Knight on c5 in some lines.
One of the main lines in the Reti Variation is the Bronstein Variation. After 5.c4, constructing the Maroczy Bind, play continues with Nf6 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.Bd3 Nc6 8.Bc2. The possibilities for further imbalances light up the position.
White's 8th move holds the e4-pawn which is a target in numerous lines of the Kan. It also allows the Queen to resume the defense of the d4-Knight. White could have traded by taking on c6 but this move seldom bears fruit for White throughout the Sicilian.
As Black you have the option of relinquishing the Bishop pair with 8...Bxf3. Your compensation is seen after the recapture. White will have doubled isolated pawns on the c-file and a weak and isolated pawn on the a-file.
It's not all bad. These pawns will control a lot of squares on White's Queenside during the middlegame. But as the pieces come off they may well become a fatal weakness in the endgame.
The Sicilian Defense: Four Knights Variation - 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6
With Black you can go for the Four Knights Variation with 4...Nf6. Black then must play 5.Nc3 and 5...Nc6 takes us to the starting position.
Your dark square Bishop is going to be a big player in this game. He can go to b4 and this makes for a really irritating pin. The e5-pawn comes under pressure and very often White just plays the surprising Be3 to hold it.
If White tries to play an English Attack kind of plan he can be a little vulnerable to some tactical shots. Hence the strange Be3 move. If you're White that's probably the best plan and castle Kingside. Also try to plant a Knight into the hole Black created on d6.
The Pin Variation is one to pick up for the tactician in you. In the position shown fireworks often ensue after 6.e5 Nd5 7.Bd2 Nxc3 8.bxe3 Be7 9.Qg4 0-0 10.Bh6 where Black must play the exchange sacrifice to survive.
This line is typical of the pin variation with all the imbalances that make for an absorbing contest. White's Queenside pawn structure is in tatters but he has a big lead in development and a strong attack.
The outcome will depend on the next 10-15 moves where White will try to move in on the Black King and finish him off before his initiative peters out. If Black can survive the onslaught he will have a marked advantage with his superior pawn structure in the endgame.
The Popular Ruy Lopez Opening - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5
That wraps up the 2...e6 section and with it the discussion on the Sicilian Defense. These great games in the 2...e6 Sicilian ought to give you an idea of what can happen for you with this opening.
This should just be the start of your relationship with the Sicilian. This is a weapon in the armory that should ensure that chess never becomes stale. This is the value of the Sicilian Defense.
You should not, however, resolve to continue in chess with just one opening in your tool kit. Always look to expand your horizons. There are few better options for starting a game than the Ruy Lopez Opening.