Understanding before Moving 104: Play the Sicilian! (6)

by ChessBase
12/18/2022 – Herman Grooten is an International Master, a renowned trainer and the author of several highly acclaimed books about chess training and chess strategy. In the 104th instalment of his ChessBase show "Understanding before Moving", Herman continues to explain why it is good to study and to play the Sicilian. | Photo: Pascal Simon

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It is common knowledge that White usually has to rely on attacking play in the  Sicilian and that Black usually benefits from exchanging the queens. Larsen once said that on move three White allows himself a small concession with 3.d2-d4. After 3...cxd4 Black has two pawns in the centre, White only one and that gives Black a (marginal) strategic advantage.

Of course, more activity, more space and easy piece play obviously compensate for this strategic disadvantage. But if the queens do come off early Black often has the better endgame.

Endgame expert Ulf Andersson played many games that illustrate Black's potential in these Sicilians. The position shown in the diagram below occurred in a game between Lothar Vogt and Ulf Andersson, played in 1975.

Black has gained some nice strategic advantages. His knight is beautifully positioned on d5 and is supported by a pawn on e6. His  pieces are all very active, while White's are not cooperating at all. In  addition, the pawn on f4 has become an attacking target as it has become isolated.  Black has to decide how to proceed here. Is the position ripe for a  combination (with 31...Nxf4 32.Nxf4 Rc1+ 33.Kh2 Be5 ?) or is Black better off  doing something else? And if so, what?

 

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