The fascinating Maroczy System

by ChessBase
11/16/2007 – Sergei Tiviakov is not only one of the leading Dutch grandmasters but also a fighter for creative chess – for instance in the Sicilian Maroczy system, which is the topic of one of his new training DVDs. As John Donaldson put it in his review, "no one in the world understands the Black side of the Maroczy as well as Tiviakov". Buy 'The Marcozy System' now or read more.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Tiviakov: The Maroczy System

Review by John Donaldson (

One recent development in chess instruction is the large number of DVDs produced by very strong players for ChessBase Instructional tapes have been around since the 1980s but initially they were geared towards beginners. Later Anatoly Karpov, Walter Browne and Roman Dzindzichashvili authored products for the intermediate crowd but only recently have more sophisticated products come out aided by improved technology.

One such effort is Sergei Tiviakov's DVD for ChessBase on the Maroczy System ($22) which can arise from both 1.e4 and the English opening. Tiviakov examines in great detail the position arising after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 – one in which he is one of the world's great experts. The Dutch GM, who was born in Russia, explains 20 of his own games in a little over three hours.

Tiviakov does not examine all lines of the Maroczy. After taking a quick glance at the experimental 5...Bh6 he quickly moves to the Gurgenidze system: 5...Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 and uses 16 games to cover all of White's tries from 7.Bc2 to the big main lines arising after 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0–0 10.Qd2 Be6 11.Rc1 Qa5 12.f3 Rfc8 13.b3 a6 14.Na4 Qxd2+ 15.Kxd2 Nd7 16.g4

Tiviakov notes that he started as pure Dragon player but that later wanted something more stable that he could play when a draw was an acceptable result for Black. His draw with White against Petursson at Torcy 1991 in a Gurgenidze Maroczy, where the Icelandic GM quickly achieved a good position as Black, made a big impression on Tiviakov. He quickly added to it his repertoire and used it successfully for over a decade before suffering a tough loss to the Greek GM Kotronias at Gibraltar 2003 (in the line with 16.g4). This convinced Sergei to look for something different in the Maroczy. He didn't like the idea of having to play a long theoretical line in which Black was forced to play several forced moves only to reach a position in which a draw was not guaranteed.

The desire for a new weapon caused Tiviakov to spend a lot of time in his laboratory, but after some months of work he was playing the dark square anti-Maroczy - 5...Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Bg7 8.Be3 0-0 9.0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Bd7

This line, a great favourite of Bent Larsen, is not as theoretical as the Gurgenidze. As Sergei puts it the players can play "pure chess" based on their understanding of the position and not loads of pre-game preparation in some sharp opening variation. Both of these anti-Maroczy systems are covered in books so why might this DVD be of interest? Aside from the fact that some people prefer DVDs to books for learning the answer is the author. No one in the world understands the Black side of the Maroczy as well as Tiviakov and his explanation of various types of middlegames that frequently arise in this structure are worth their weight in gold. In one phrase he can some up a lot of hard earned knowledge. For example in the dark square anti-Maroczy he plays the move order 9...Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Bd7 instead of the more usual 9...Bd7 because he doesn't want to allow White the option of playing 10.Nc2. He points out in these structures Black wants to play ...Nf6-d7-c5 and with the bishop on d7 must lose a tempo to implement this plan. In certain middlegame structures Tiviakov avoids playing ...f7-f5 as he doesn't like to have hanging center pawns on e7 and d6. He admits that certain players find it quite acceptable but that he doesn't personally consider the increased piece activity of the bishop on c6 and rook on f5 an acceptable trade-off for the looseness in Black's position. When Tiviakov says this one takes notice.

The Maroczy System won't answer all of your questions. For example in the big main line in the Gurgenidze you won't find anything after 16.g4 f5 17.exf5 gxf5 18.h3 Rf8 19.f4 Rad8 except 20.g5, which is likely not White's most promising continuation. Nor will you find anything after 17.gxf5 – which brought Vaganian a quick win against Ponomariov – except 17...gxf5 18.Rhg1 Kh8. But that misses the point. The small details in the theory of the Maroczy will always be changing but if Black understands his thematic plans he should be able to find adequate resources.

English is not Tiviakov's native language, but he easily succeeds in getting his message across. Annotated ChessBase game files supplement Tiviakov's audio presentation.

Conclusion: Highly Recommended

Origianl review at

More Sergei Tiviakov on DVD:

Sicilian Defense with 2.c3 - Alapin Variation. (released in October 2007)

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register