Bojkov: Playing the Main Lines with Bologan

2/22/2012 – Out of the dozens and dozens of openings played nowadays the Sicilian Defence remains the most fascinating, entertaining and complex opening. But how to lean and understand this complex system? Viktor Bologan has solved the problem efficiently by dividing the series into three parts, concentrated on the openings after 2…Nc6, 2…d6 and 2…e6. Review by GM Dejan Bojkov.

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Beating the Sicilian

Grandmaster Bologan's Repertoire Vol.1

In the Sicilian White understands that Black will not be a patient lamb but will try to get at him at the very first opportunity. For those who are ready to take on the challenge and plunge into the wonderful world of combinations, attacks and counter-attacks, for those who really love chess... this DVD is designed for you!

In the first volume of the Open Sicilian for White we present all black reactions to 2...Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4. This includes the Sveshnikov/Cheliabinsk Variation, the Rauzer Attack, the Maroczy Bind and a few other minor side lines.

The approach is typical for Bologan’s DVDs, as he tries to describe in a compact format plans and reactions from White’s point of view. With the help of this DVD one can forget about fears concerning the tons of theory in the Open Sicilian and can get straight into the real fight!

Video running time: six hours

Playing the Main Lines with Bologan (Part 1)

Review by GM Dejan Bojkov

Repertoire books and DVDs have became extremely fashionable nowadays. The demands on chess players' knowledge have greatly increased, information flows through the air (well, the Internet, to be more precise), and in order to survive and be successful we need to study and learn a lot of things.

The approach in these repertoire DVDs by GM Viorel Bologan is to provide concentrated knowledge on the main lines of each type of the Sicilian, and to orientate you in what direction to put your efforts. The task is still very difficult, as there are so many Sicilians. But Bologan has solved it efficiently by dividing the series into three parts, concentrated on the openings after 2…Nc6, 2…d6 and 2…e6. Sometimes the lines might transpose of course, but in general the idea is very good.

This review, which conincides with Bologan's recent success at the Chebanenko Memorial in Chisinau, Moldova, is about the first part of the series, the one which deals with the main lines after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6

The suggested lines are:

  1. The Maroczy Bind against the Accelerated Dragon
  2. The Rauzer Attack against the Classical Sicilian
  3. The 11.c4 Line against the Sveshnikov Sicilian.

Some less common, but still playable lines like the Loewental, the Kalashnikov and the Grivas Sicilian are also covered here.

The principle approach in teaching theory is obvious. White is going for the main lines, and searches for an advantage there. If you are a 1.e4 player you will sooner or later need to employ the principle lines if you want to get something from the opening.

A very strong point on the DVD is the fact that Bologan uses a lot of the recommendations of his former coach and famous theoretician GM Zugurds Lanka. The Latvian GM is still well recognized for his ideas in many of the Open Sicilians, and you can find a lot of his ideas both in the video and the theoretical part of the DVD. Check the latter carefully as Bologan simply does not have the physical ability to explain everything in detail during his verbal presentation!


The part of the DVD that I enjoyed most of all was on the Rauzer. In the main line after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 Be7 8.0–0–0 0–0 9.f4 Nxd4 10.Qxd4 Qa5 11.Bc4 Bd7 12.e5 dxe5 13.fxe5 Bc6 14.Bd2

Bologan annotates some of his encounters against the main ideologist of the Classical Sicilian, his good friend GM Vasilios Kotronias. Their principle battles always advance the theory greatly, and in this clip the author uses some of his analyses and preparation to show the main ideas of the line.

Up to this point it seemed to me that the DVD is a bit dry, from the explanation perspective, but the Moldavian GM surprised me pleasantly by spending a good deal of time explaining the typical endgames that arises this line.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Bologan, Viktor"] [Black "Rauzer for White"] [Result "*"] [ECO "B65"] [Annotator "Bojkov,Dejan"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2011.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. f4 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 Qa5 11. Bc4 Bd7 12. e5 dxe5 13. fxe5 Bc6 14. Bd2 {The main line Rauzer.} Nd7 15. Nd5 Qd8 16. Nxe7+ Qxe7 17. Rhe1 Rfd8 18. Qg4 Nf8 19. Bd3 Rxd3 (19... Rd5 $5 20. Bb4 Qd8 21. Qg3 Ng6 22. c4 Rd7 (22... Rd4 23. Bc5 Rd7 24. Bd6) 23. Bd6 Qh4 24. Rd2 $14 {Gallamova-Lugovoi, 2003} Qxg3 25. hxg3 Rad8 26. c5) 20. cxd3 {This endgame was once considered equal for Black, but Bologan points out that after} Qd7 (20... Qc5+ 21. Kb1 Qd5 22. Qe4 $14) 21. Bb4 {is a key move, which forces the trade of the knight for the bishop (as otherwise Black would not even win a pawn for the exchange).} Qd5 (21... Ng6 22. Bd6 f5 $14 23. Qe2 Bd5 24. Kb1 Qc6 (24... Qa4 25. b3 Qb5 26. Qc2 a5 27. g3 a4 28. b4 $14 {Vasquez R 2558 - Tobares L 2260 , 6.8.2005 American Continental} ) 25. Qd2 Bxg2 26. Rc1 Qd5 27. Rc5 Qf3 28. Rg1 Bf1 29. Rg3 Qh1 30. Qc1 Nf8 31. Rc7 Kh8 32. Ka1 Qxh2 33. Rc8 {1-0, Stefansson Hannes (ISL) 2575 - Gershon Alik (ISR) 2556, Paget Parish (Bermuda) 2001}) 22. Bxf8 Rxf8 23. Kb1 (23. b3 {!?}) 23... Qxg2 24. Qxg2 (24. Qh4 {!?}) 24... Bxg2 {Here Bologan spends a good deal of time explaining the main ideas of playing this endgame - how to place your pieces, and what precisely to do. The analyses run up to the fourtieth move, impressively deep!} 25. Rg1 {%04!} (25. Kc2) 25... Bc6 26. Kc2 Rd8 (26... f5 27. exf6 Rxf6 28. Rdf1 Rh6 29. Rf2 Rh4 30. Kc3 $16) 27. Kc3 g6 28. h4 h6 29. Rdf1 Kg7 30. Rf4 a6 31. Rgf1 Rd7 32. b3 Bd5 33. Kd2 Bc6 34. Ke3 Kg8 35. Rc1 Rd5 (35... Kg7 36. Rd4 Rxd4 37. Kxd4 g5 38. hxg5 hxg5 39. Rf1 g4 40. Rf4 Bf3 41. Ke3 Kg6 42. Rf6+ Kg7 43. Kf4 $16 Kg8 44. d4 Kg7 45. b4 Kg8 46. a3 Kg7 47. d5 { %04!?} exd5 (47... Bxd5 48. Kxg4) 48. Rd6 d4 49. Rxd4 Kg6 50. Rd6+ Kg7 51. a4) 36. d4 Kg7 37. Rf2 Rd7 38. Rfc2 $16 Bd5 39. Rc8 *

A real nugget! One very strong point which I found in the DVD, and which is very helpful for those who want to learn the main lines, is that Bologan provides similar approaches between the lines – not for concrete moves, but for concrete pawn structures and piece correlations. This will help the student of the DVD keep track in the jungle of the moves that need to be digested (and memorized!), while it will also facilitate the cognitive process.

As for the Kalashnikov – I find it politically incorrect to compare a line on which the author had mere minutes to a full DVD by the reviewer, and I will leave you do this for your own. I will now go on to study the two remaining DVDs in this series, and will pass on my thoughts to you.

Until then my evaluation of the Bologan’s Sicilian Repertoire, Part 1 is: an excellent product!

Dejan Bojkov

Sample lecture from Beating the Sicilian Vol. 1: 2...Nc6

About the author: GM Viktor Bologan

Born in 1971, a pupil of the top Moldavan trainer Vecheslav Chebanenko. For many years Bologan has been the number one in Moldava and has represented his country in nine Chess Olympiads. His greatest successes were in 2003, when he first of all won the Aeroflot Open and then the famous Dortmund Tournament, ahead of Kramnik and Anand. The Moldovan has extensive experience as a trainer and has also published his first books.

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