Understanding before Moving 114: Play the Sicilian (15)

by ChessBase
2/26/2023 – 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 114th 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.


It's time to look at the Kan variation. It usually appears on the board after the moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6. But there are so many other sequences that can also lead to positions that can be seen as typical for the Kan that it is actually impractical to show them one by one.

The main feature is that with ...e7-e6 Black frees his king's bishop and delays the move ...d7-d6 as long as possible. Since he would like to have the queen on c7 early, the Kan player also plays ...a7-a6 quite early. He does this for two reasons: he does not want to suffer a white knight's escape to b5, and he wants to put his queen's bishop (after ...b7-b5) on the long diagonal.

Black players using the above move order should be aware that White (since he has no knight on c3) can immediately play 5.c2-c4 to go for a Maroczy set-up, after which Black resorts to the Hedgehog system, which is considered to be the most common approach here.

However, many white players prefer to opt for the neutral Bf1-d3 but often they later decide to go for Bc1-e3 setups. So did White in the game Huschenbeth - Le, 2014, the game reviewed in the video. Partly because of White's wait-and-see attitude, Black gets the opportunity to play his black-squared bishop via d6 to the beautiful square e5.

The question is, of course, whether he can keep his bishop there, which is why White has just chosen to prepare the advance f2-f4 with 21.Bf3-g2. But this turns out to be a little too slow. Black has just enough time to carry out his plan. Do you see how inventive he was?


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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