Sicilian with 2.c3: Positional, aggressive and a lot of potential

by ChessBase
6/13/2006 – "The Alapin (Sicilian with 2.c3) is a very safe way for White to play for a win", says someone who knows what he is talking about: Grandmaster Rogozenko has for almost ten years been commenting the most important games in the Alapin for ChessBase Magazine. For this opening system he has now completed a CD-ROM that no friend of the Sicilian should miss. Interview with Rogozenko.

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What kind of opening is the Alapin? Is it an ambitious one, and for what kind of White player is it best suited?

The Alapin is a positional, aggressive approach. In contrast to open Sicilians and most other openings, the Alapin is a very safe way for White to play for a win. There are many apparently simple positions which look equal, but actually offer White many hidden resources to quickly develop a strong initiative or a deadly attack (see for instance the games Godena-Antunes 1997, or Nisipeanu-Chuchelov 2003).
The Sicilian Alapin is a universal opening, which can be played by everyone. Even almost all top Grandmasters have employed it occasionally. In my opinion, the Alapin suits best for positional players who can also calculate well variations and have a feeling for hidden tactical ideas.

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What is your general evaluation of the Sicilian with 2.c3? What is your conclusion?

I would say that with good play from both sides, the Alapin Sicilian often leads to an "equality slightly better for White."... During my work on the CD I realized that many variations, which I considered harmless for Black before, turned out to be very poisonous and with lots of resources for White.

What are the main assets of your CD compared to the books currently available on the Alapin?

Books are books, and every book offers the reader something special. My CD reflects the present state of theory and indicates the critical positions in each variation. It also contains my conclusions about many popular lines from today's practice. For the reader it is easy to navigate and find out if a particular variation suits well for his taste. All he has to do is to open a database text and have a look at the diagrams - and if he likes it, he can immediately watch the most important games in order to understand better the position and see typical plans.

Furthermore, the CD brings some fresh points of view, since I do not always agree with the established theoretical opinion.

Are there any particular exemplary games that show the characteristics of the Alapin?

The Alapin has many characteristics and several typical positions. Practically every GM who employs the Alapin as his main weapon has played at least one model game that shows some characteristic methods of play in standard positions. I can name for instance the games Kharlov-Gallagher 2001, Rublevsky-Topalov 2004, Nisipeanu-Ramirez 2003, Sveshnikov-Brkic 2004 and many others.

How is your personal score against the Alapin?

I have never played Alapin myself with White for the simple reason that I am a 1.d4 player. With Black I faced Alapin many times and my overall score is positive, but only because my opponents were generally weaker players who usually wanted a draw, which I consider a completely wrong approach in the Alapin. One should play it for a win, as basically any other opening, especially with White.

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