Understanding before Moving 111: Play the Sicilian (12)

by ChessBase
2/5/2023 – 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 111th 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

Key Concepts of Chess - Pawn Structures Vol.1 and 2 Key Concepts of Chess - Pawn Structures Vol.1 and 2

In this two-part course the emphasis will be on typical pawn-structures.


In this episode we come to the Richter Rauzer variation of the Sicilian. This line usually leads to an interesting battle, but often also leads to different structures than other variations of the Sicilian.

Because White plays Bg5 quickly, followed by Qd2 and 0-0-0, White often exchanges his bishop on g5 against the knight on f6. Black is usually forced to take back with the pawn, leaving him with a double pawn. This typical pawn structure largely determines the strategies that both players will pursue.

A big question for black players is where the king will be most secure. Castling short is not particularly attractive (after all, ...gxf6 weakened the kingside) and if Black is looking for counterplay on the queenside with ...a7-a6 followed by ...b7-b5, castling long might also be dangerous. Therefore, Black's king usually stays on its starting square in the centre, where, however, it can also be attacked.

White often attacks the heart of Black's structure (pawn e6!) with f4-f5. White wants to increase the pressure on e6 to force Black to play the weakening move ...e6-e5.

The position below is taken from an old but very interesting puzzle book by GM Vlastimil Hort and GM Vlastimil Jansa. The Dutch title is "230 stellingen uit de grootmeesterpraktijk", which translates as "230 positions from grandmaster practice" though the English version of the book actually appeared under the title "The Best Move".

The diagram position, in which Black was to move, shows a game by Jansa. As with most of the exercises in the book, the reader is asked a number of questions. In this case they are: A) Black's position is: a. slightly better b. slightly worse; B) How should Black play?


Master Class Vol. 12: Viswanathan Anand

This DVD allows you to learn from the example of one of the best players in the history of chess and from the explanations of the authors how to successfully organise your games strategically, and how to keep your opponent permanently under pressure.

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