A repertoire against the Sicilian

by ChessBase
3/7/2015 – Bobby Fischer had no doubt what to play with White. His "best by test" choice was 1.e4. But what, then, to do against the Sicilian? Lorin D'Costa and Nick Murphy have an answer. They offer a repertoire that avoids the theoretical lines and is "an excellent guide that will provide a rich and fruitful resource for the amateur player". Review by Rory McCluckie.

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D'Costa/Murphy: A repertoire against the Sicilian - A review

By Rory McCluckie

Death and taxes apart, there can be few eventualities as predictable as 1.e4 being countered by 1...c5; play the one and, sooner or later, you'll see the other. It's about as close to a guarantee as White can get over the 64 squares and, being such, should be an eventuality every king's pawn pusher should be prepared for.

The problem, of course, is that, in the chess world, popularity breeds analytical knowledge. Any 1.e4 player, especially those in the process of building an opening repertoire, will know the sense of uncertainty that accompanies heading into an Open Sicilian – an uncertainty born of the suspicion that your opponent knows a little more than you do about this most analysed of openings.

A Repertoire against the Sicilian sets out to lay these suspicions to rest. There are four ways Black usually responds after the usual 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3, with 2...Nc6, 2...d6, 2...e6 and 2...g6 thought to give the best chances to the second player. Lorin D'Costa and Nick Murphy work through responses to each of these that allow White to avoid any main line preparation his or her opponent may have in store, and it's a method that makes the continuations very attractive.

The illustrative games (23 in all) look at 3.Bb5 (against 2...Nc6 and 2...d6), 3.d4 (against 2...g6) and 3.g3/b3 (against 2...e6) as the recommended ideas and they're all shown to be effective gateways to clashes which, as D'Costa puts it, “aren't forced variations”, and not the sort “where you need to find the moves or you lose”. This is exactly what a great number of players can immediately benefit from; acting effectively as quick equalizers against the better-prepared, these offerings are tailor-made for those who are simply not as familiar with the traditional Sicilian byways as some of their more experienced opponent.

White to move - What to do?

Despite this highly interesting subject matter, however, there's another, clearly dominant strength to this DVD. Boasting two presenters in the studio might seem like a remarkably simple premise but it turns out to be one that reaps huge rewards for the viewer. D'Costa is an International Master, well-versed in both the ideas underlying the anti-Sicilian as well as the means of communicating them. A chess instructor by trade, he exudes an air of swift comprehension and easy classroom affability.

Lorin D'Costa

Murphy, on the other hand is an amateur, a chess software expert who has clearly played enough to be an able and intelligent interlocutor, but who is only strong enough to make him the perfect foil to his co-host. He both asks and answers questions with a level of insight perfectly attuned to a keen amateur's; at some points, his suggestions and queries are on the right lines, at others, he's far wide of the mark.

What is consistently revealing for the average player, though, is that almost everything he proposes is understandable, which makes D'Costa's replies as illuminating to us as they are to Murphy. In short, watching these two in the studio is as close as many will come to having their very own coach guide them through the openings' theoretical detail.

Nick Murphy

A further word on the style in which these two go about their jobs. In a world of increasingly accessible chess-related video material, it's never been easier to understand the value of having that material well presented. Every top tournament nowadays has a commentary team charged with covering the drama and communicating the finer points of each game – a hugely illuminating development for chess fans and one that becomes an unquestionable joy when the commentators are blessed with a genial, humorous rapport. A Repertoire against the Sicilian has such a team.

Both D'Costa and Murphy play their roles with a fluency that clearly comes from being at ease with each other. Never shirking the hard work – the running time is a hefty 6 hours – they nevertheless exude a sense of light-hearted enjoyment which not only makes the learning process a pleasant one, but emphasizes a love of the game that players the world over can relate to.

Add to this a series of interactive sections in which the viewer must find the right continuation, as well as a database containing each of the games featured (with variations), and A Repertoire against the Sicilian amounts to an outstanding and thoroughly entertaining production. Ideal for those fond of 1.e4, but not so enamoured with the prospect of the Open variations that follow 1...c5, this is an excellent guide that will provide a rich and fruitful resource for the amateur player.

Sample video


D'Costa/Murphy: A repertoire against the Sicilian

• Video running time: 6 hours
• With interactive training including video feedback
• A database containing 68 games played by the world’s best players
• Including CB 12 Reader

€23.45 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)
$26.30 (without VAT)

This DVD can be purchased as a hard copy or it can be downloaded directly from the Internet.

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