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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Is the Classical Sicilian that bad? (Read 11105 times)
CarriedbyGg
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #22 - 05/20/17 at 14:28:44
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Kozuls book is written by the expert on the line and contains not only numerous novelties and interesting variations, but also a lot of positional advice. However, as stated above, you can only read this book without going crazy if you type it into chessbase.
Second thing is that it requires a certain playing strength (I would assume 1900+)
Third, this only covers the Bg5 Rauzer! For everything else, there are other things:

First, Marins DVD. Cannot comment on that.

Second, Yermolinskys book, which I really like! Definitely worth the money and I think you get it cheap these days. Also covers other interesting lines in the Rauzer.

There is also another DVD by Kosten I think, which is also quite decent.

So, Kozul for the Kozul and Yermo for the rest probably! Wink
  
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bobbyh64
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #21 - 05/20/17 at 13:16:15
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I'd like to play the Classical and CarriedbyGg's post has inspired me! So is Kozul's book considered the best or most practical resource to take up the opening?
  
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CarriedbyGg
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #20 - 05/09/17 at 11:22:06
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There may not have been a lot of fuzz here about the classical sicilian, but when reading this thread I get interest in it again. It remains a dangerously double-edged opening that does not get the interest that it deserves. Especially the Kozul variation is strategically so unbalanced it is no wonder that the maestro is able to use the same supersharp variation for 30 years and nobody refuted it yet.
Even if it's += (and I find it hard to attach such a sign to such an unbalanced position) you can easily move order your opponent or play some other idea.

This is probably the biggest advantage of comparing the Najdorf and the kozul variation as you main weapon: the forcing lines are rare. White really needs to be comfortable with the messy "+=" he gets in a typical position and is seldomly able to outprepare Black. That's why I prefer Kozul's treatment in his book versus Marin's in the DVD because he heads down a narrow path to an endgame that is easier to prepare for. And indeed, as we saw in the thread related to the book here, the two treatments could not be more different:

Kozul and Negi meet: Kozul just says "unclear", Negi quotes one game and says it's easier to play with White.

Marin and Negi meet: Negi quotes corr. games and improves on those ideas to outsmart the treatment of Marin.

Who needs to work more on his repertoire after this, someone preparing with Marin or with Kozul?

Then there is the line Li Chao is playing with an early h6 and often an early b4 like Caruana played against Karjakin. I get that on this level it might not be the best weapon to use, but on GM/IM/FM level it is perfect, especially against weaker opponents. Strategically unbalanced, but if you are aware you are probably not getting mated with Black.

These were just my thoughts that I had in the last days (:
  
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Paddy
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #19 - 03/29/16 at 14:57:45
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dfan wrote on 03/29/16 at 13:08:56:
Paddy wrote on 03/29/16 at 12:53:15:
Latest: in the final round of the Candidates it was no great surprise that, against Kariakin, Caruana chose the Sicilian in a game in which he would most likely need to play for a win. What was a slight surprise was his choice not only of the Classical (which he had not played since 2009) but of a slightly strange idea in the Rauser:
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6 8.O-O-O Bd7 9. f4 h6!? 10. Bh4 b5 11. Bxf6 gxf6.
Caruana mentioned after the game that he had studied Li Chao's games in preparation. But what is the point of inserting ...h6 on move 9, if you're intending to head for a Kozul set-up? It seems to reduce (no...Bh6) rather than increase Black's options. As far as I can see its only virtue is psychological, hoping to worry White with the possibilities of ...Nxe4 or ...g5 and maybe gain time on the clock.
Explanation. anyone?


van Kampen said in the chess24 broadcast that one point was to remove White's option of playing Qh6 in some lines (after the Bf8 has moved, obviously).


Thanks dfan, that's probably a valid point, but I'm not convinced it's the whole story.

In the evoutionary tree of the Rauser, before the Kozul there was what we might call the Spassky variation, since it was Spassky's choice, both against Fischer in their 1972 match and subsequently. It runs 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Bd7 9.f4 Be7 10.Nf3 b5, and now 11.Bxf6 gxf6, reaching the same pawn structure as the Kozul, but with Black's bishop already committed to e7. (Exchanging on f6 has proved more popular with White than the still critical and rather unclear 11.e5 b4 12.exf6 bxc3.)

One of the main reasons why the Kozul overtook the Spassky variation in popularity was the realisation that Black's important unopposed dark-squared bishop is more flexible on f8 and in fact it rarely goes to e7 in the Kozul, with the result that Qh6 is rarely an issue!

Maybe Li Chao found a particular line in the Kozul where he wants or needs to play ...Be7 while preventing Qh6? Or maybe my original suspicion that Caruana's decision to insert ...h6 was largely psychological is correct.

All in all, I'm still rather mystified!
  
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dfan
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #18 - 03/29/16 at 13:08:56
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Paddy wrote on 03/29/16 at 12:53:15:
Latest: in the final round of the Candidates it was no great surprise that, against Kariakin, Caruana chose the Sicilian in a game in which he would most likely need to play for a win. What was a slight surprise was his choice not only of the Classical (which he had not played since 2009) but of a slightly strange idea in the Rauser:
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6 8.O-O-O Bd7 9. f4 h6!? 10. Bh4 b5 11. Bxf6 gxf6.
Caruana mentioned after the game that he had studied Li Chao's games in preparation. But what is the point of inserting ...h6 on move 9, if you're intending to head for a Kozul set-up? It seems to reduce (no...Bh6) rather than increase Black's options. As far as I can see its only virtue is psychological, hoping to worry White with the possibilities of ...Nxe4 or ...g5 and maybe gain time on the clock.
Explanation. anyone?

van Kampen said in the chess24 broadcast that one point was to remove White's option of playing Qh6 in some lines (after the Bf8 has moved, obviously).
  
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Paddy
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #17 - 03/29/16 at 12:53:15
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IMJohnCox wrote on 03/02/16 at 02:17:25:
OK, one interesting comparison I noticed with Marin's DVD is that in the main line 11.Kb1 Qb6 12.Nxc6 Bxc6 13.f5, Kozul and Jankovic give 13...b4 a question mark "?" on page 133 (variation B), while it is Marin's recommendation (Video 5 by transposition). The difference is that after 14.Ne2, Marin recommends 14...e5, while K&J just give 14...Bxe4 and Marin warns of the dangers of taking this pawn (well, in a similar position, if not this exact variation by my recollection).

>You're doing better than me if you've even managed to find whereever it is they analyse 13...b4 at all. The layout of this book really is something else - just surreal. It makes you realise that our editors are underestimated and/or that it's not as easy as it looks to produce a comprehensible text.


Talking of Marin's DVD - in Video 6 he shows 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Bd7 9.f4 b5 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.f5 Qb6 12.Nxc6 Bxc6 13.Kb1 b4 14.Ne2 e5 15.Ng3 h5 16.h4 Bh6 17.Qxd6 Rd8 18.Qxd8+ Qxd8 19.Rxd8+ Kxd8 20.Nxh5 Ke7 as an example of how Black can sometimes sac a pawn or two and still have sufficient counterplay with the two bishops. The principle is most likely correct, but the latest Negi book points out that instead of 20.Nxh5 White should play 20.Bxa6 with the idea of an eventual a3!, answering ...bxa3 with b4!. This doesn't refute the Kozul, of course, but might be a rather important addition to our understanding of White's resources in this type of position.

Latest: in the final round of the Candidates it was no great surprise that, against Kariakin, Caruana chose the Sicilian in a game in which he would most likely need to play for a win. What was a slight surprise was his choice not only of the Classical (which he had not played since 2009) but of a slightly strange idea in the Rauser:
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6 8.O-O-O Bd7 9. f4 h6!? 10. Bh4 b5 11. Bxf6 gxf6.
Caruana mentioned after the game that he had studied Li Chao's games in preparation. But what is the point of inserting ...h6 on move 9, if you're intending to head for a Kozul set-up? It seems to reduce (no...Bh6) rather than increase Black's options. As far as I can see its only virtue is psychological, hoping to worry White with the possibilities of ...Nxe4 or ...g5 and maybe gain time on the clock.
Explanation. anyone?
  
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ChevyBanginStyle
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #16 - 03/02/16 at 07:59:56
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Yeah, the layout is a bit horrendous. A large part of the organization looks like guitar chords or something (e.g. DFCA Line), but there is some sympathy for the reader:

"At some specific places we thought it helpfull (sic) to underscore some parts to make it easier for you to find the main variation. It might not be consistent with the overall layout but may be helpful."

Thanks, editorial team! Smiley

In defense of the editing, they do have chapter indices, which helped me somewhat through the maze.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #15 - 03/02/16 at 02:17:25
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OK, one interesting comparison I noticed with Marin's DVD is that in the main line 11.Kb1 Qb6 12.Nxc6 Bxc6 13.f5, Kozul and Jankovic give 13...b4 a question mark "?" on page 133 (variation B), while it is Marin's recommendation (Video 5 by transposition). The difference is that after 14.Ne2, Marin recommends 14...e5, while K&J just give 14...Bxe4 and Marin warns of the dangers of taking this pawn (well, in a similar position, if not this exact variation by my recollection).

>You're doing better than me if you've even managed to find whereever it is they analyse 13...b4 at all. The layout of this book really is something else - just surreal. It makes you realise that our editors are underestimated and/or that it's not as easy as it looks to produce a comprehensible text.
  
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ChevyBanginStyle
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #14 - 02/29/16 at 19:30:45
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To expand on Stigma's post:

I think the Classical significantly weakens the English Attack.

6.Be3 Ng4! is an improved version of the Najdorf line (Nc6 is much more useful than a6) and 6.f3 e5! is a comfortable Boleslavsky (precursor of the Najdorf). Note that Black can play a5 in one move to play against the knight on b3 and this is at least one favorable comparison with the Najdorf.

For just about everything else besides 6.Bg5 or 6.Bc4, you can play a comfortable Boleslavsky or Dragon (having bypassed the Yugoslav). I've noticed that a lot of amateurs get move-ordered when they play 6.Be2 to try to avoid theory. In this case, the Dragon can be an unpleasant surprise, since they may prefer the Yugoslav but never got around to studying the Rauzer or Sozin carefully. In my experience, a lot of players get confused by this move order.

I think 6.Bc4 should be taken seriously, but I don't think it should be greatly feared either. The modern approaches that delay castling are very interesting. The theory in some places seems less charted than the Najdorf here, so I think you can force White to think on his own more and still get good counterplay. Marin's DVD has an interesting system with Bd7 against the Velimirovic that appears to be little explored.

6.Bg5 is the real monster here. A lot of people know this is the best move, but maybe aren't completely sure why. The Kozul can be very sharp and takes careful study. (For me, this is the biggest obstacle in the Classical repertoire by far.)  It's easy to mess up when you're playing it for the first time. One thing to remember is that Black will often sacrifice a pawn (or sometimes two!) to trade queens and enter an endgame where he has dynamic compensation with the bishop pair and piece activity while attacking White's weaknesses. I think it's an underestimated system often due to some false assumptions. There is a lot of theory to learn here, but I think it has good practical potential if you do your homework since the theory is less known and sometimes less explored than the Najdorf.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #13 - 02/29/16 at 19:20:56
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I presume it may be the case that the Richter-Rauzer should enable White to reach "+=" territory.  I have no idea where such thoughts as that it may "win by force" come from.

Regarding ...a6, although Black often plays it later in the Classical, there are quite a few "book" lines in which he doesn't.  That can be connected with such things as ...e5, or ...Nxd4 and ...Qa5, or ...a5, or ...Na5 and ...b6 etc. as the case may be.
  
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Stigma
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #12 - 02/29/16 at 18:20:57
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@nocteus:

I'm not sure if such abstract considerations are all that useful in deciding what to play. But to go along: With ...Nc6 in Black has more immediate influence on the centre, and moves like 6.f3, 6.Be2 and (especially) 6.Be3 are thought to have less bite there than against the Najdorf. Black also keeps the option of switching to a Dragon structure (without resorting to the somewhat dodgy-looking Dragondorf).

You don't mention practicality, which to me is the main selling point of the Classical. The Najdorf is so heavily theoretical that if you play it, it is probably your first or only choice. The Classical being less theoretical means it can work as a second choice or surprise weapon, or for people with little time or a bad memory.

This is largely because the Richter-Rauzer is in many people's opinion the only critical try, which is both a blessing (less theory to remember) and a curse (maybe it wins by force!?). And in spite of that, 6.Bg5 against the Najdorf has been analyzed in even greater detail than the R-R.
  

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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #11 - 02/29/16 at 17:37:49
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To answer that question, I think we need to take a step backward before plunging into the mess of variations.
First, I confess that I quite do not understand the Classical sicilian. The 'odd-looking' waiting move a6 in the Najdorf makes more sense to me: you wait for white's plan to determine a plan and a structure, as black's counterplay in the Sicilian is not immediately evident. But it is not because the Najdorf would be easier to understand, but mainly because I've seen so many Najdorf and so few classical that now I do know and understand what the Najdorf player is trying to accomplish against white's main replies.
So what is the Classical player trying to accomplish without a6? My main reflex when considering the Classical is to push a6 anyway to prepare some counterplay with b5.

Given that the Classical is not directly refuted (is it?), we could consider:
- excluding the main critical line (Richter-Rauzer?), are the positions reached with direct play in the Classical that more interesting than in the Najdorf? In other words, is it that worth considering the Classical over the Sicilian?
- If yes, considering the critical line, is it viable to try and defend against it? Does this line outweighs the benefits of the other lines?

  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #10 - 02/29/16 at 07:08:50
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ChevyBanginStyle wrote on 02/29/16 at 06:22:38:
OK, one interesting comparison I noticed with Marin's DVD is that in the main line 11.Kb1 Qb6 12.Nxc6 Bxc6 13.f5, Kozul and Jankovic give 13...b4 a question mark "?" on page 133 (variation B), while it is Marin's recommendation (Video 5 by transposition). The difference is that after 14.Ne2, Marin recommends 14...e5, while K&J just give 14...Bxe4 and Marin warns of the dangers of taking this pawn (well, in a similar position, if not this exact variation by my recollection).


That seems curious (on the part of K&J).  14...e5 was also thought to be better than 14...Bxe4 in such old books as ECO and NCO.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #9 - 02/29/16 at 06:22:38
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IMJohnCox wrote on 02/29/16 at 00:49:01:
There is a recent book by Kozul and Jankovec, of course, covering what I presume is the Kozul.

Unfortunately on a quick glance they appeared to have been forced to concede that it lost by force, but perhaps they were merely being honest and I am exaggerating.


LOL

The Richter-Rauzer DOA

Surely this is at least a half-joke?

OK, one interesting comparison I noticed with Marin's DVD is that in the main line 11.Kb1 Qb6 12.Nxc6 Bxc6 13.f5, Kozul and Jankovic give 13...b4 a question mark "?" on page 133 (variation B), while it is Marin's recommendation (Video 5 by transposition). The difference is that after 14.Ne2, Marin recommends 14...e5, while K&J just give 14...Bxe4 and Marin warns of the dangers of taking this pawn (well, in a similar position, if not this exact variation by my recollection).

I find this radical difference of opinion very interesting. Anyway, it's hard for me to believe the whole Kozul Rauzer is dead. I remember winning a game using the Kozul against a young national master and he seemed almost annoyed I didn't play the Najdorf. He seemed confident that a computer check would show White's superiority, but he was later dismayed when Houdini evaluated the opening in my favor.  For me, this line is beautifully ugly. It sometimes looks like Black's position is about to fall apart, and at the moment it seems broken, the energy flows through a counterattack and everything makes sense again in a really strange way. But maybe it's all a dream... Smiley
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #8 - 02/29/16 at 01:39:53
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IMJohnCox wrote on 02/29/16 at 00:49:01:
There is a recent book by Kozul and Jankovec, of course, covering what I presume is the Kozul.

Unfortunately on a quick glance they appeared to have been forced to concede that it lost by force, but perhaps they were merely being honest and I am exaggerating.

By force?! Assuming you're not joking here, that must be bad news for the book's sales (likely already hurt by the frequent complains over the layout).

I wonder where the book crosses paths with the recent Marin DVD, and whether he can offer any hope?

I played the Kozul a bit several years ago and have some sympathy for Black's cause, but if it really is in such a sorry condition I won't play it again any time soon.
  

Improvement begins at the edge of your comfort zone. -Jonathan Rowson
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