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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Is the Classical Sicilian that bad? (Read 17224 times)
FreeRepublic
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #72 - 04/14/18 at 16:22:48
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I've suggested 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5!? a6!?. Then I thought the best moves are 7Qd2 Nxd4 8Qxd4 Qa5. An old FIDE Chess monograph continued with 9.Bd2, 9.f4, and 9.Bxf6

I downloaded the kindle version of the updated Dismantling the Sicilian by Illingworth and De La Villa, and was curious to see his recommendation for this rare line. He likes 9h4 and says ...e5 10Qd2 Be6 11Bxf6 gxf6 13g3 "is a poor man's Sveshnikov." He may be right! Then again, my old Stockfish engine computes little advantage for white after 12...h5.

Looking at the position after 12...h5, white has the better pawn structure and black has the two bishops. Perhaps this unbalanced position offers balanced chances.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #71 - 04/14/18 at 15:45:46
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gewgaw wrote on 04/10/18 at 17:43:38:
What about 6. ...Qb6?!!


I just downloaded the kindle version of the updated Dismantling the Sicilian by Illingworth and De La Villa. I recommend it highly.

Max recommends 6...Qb6 7Nb3 e6 7Bf4!?
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #70 - 04/10/18 at 21:54:30
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gewgaw wrote on 04/10/18 at 17:43:38:
What about 6. ...Qb6?!!


ChessPublishing (I think Federowicz and others) likes 7Be3!? as a response. 7...Qxb2?! 8Ndb5 offers more for white. After 7Be3 black can try 7...a6 then 8. Qd2! Ng4! 9. Na4 Qc7 10. Nxc6 and black can play either ...Qxc6 or ...Nxe3 with acceptable play IMO.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #69 - 04/10/18 at 19:05:28
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RdC wrote on 04/10/18 at 18:26:51:
You can play .. Nc6 and .. Qb6 as in 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 Nc6 7. f4 Qb6 . The problem is that the queenless middlegame after 8. Nb3 Qe3+ 9. Qe2 Qxe2 is by no means as easy to play as you might hope it would be.


An old book possibility is 7...Ng4.  But 7. Qd2 is the main move, I would think.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #68 - 04/10/18 at 19:00:36
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gewgaw wrote on 04/10/18 at 17:43:38:
What about 6. ...Qb6?!!


I was reminded of that having been played by a Dutch IM named Erik Hoeksema, though in annotating a game a couple of years ago (at the link, in Dutch), he referred to it as "deze 6...Db6 rommel" (approximately "this 6...Qb6 junk").  The game in question (like the Djukic-Kozul ones) transposed to 6...e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. 0-0-0 0-0 9. Nb3 Qb6. 

http://gc1.groningercombinatie.nl/uncategorized/polak-hoeksema/      
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #67 - 04/10/18 at 18:44:53
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"Another sideline was just played by Kozul in all three Black games in a match against Djukic:  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cd 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Qb6.  Each time the continuation was 8. Nb3 Be7 9. O-O-O O-O, which transposes to an old major line (7...Be7 8. 0-0-0 0-0 9. Nb3 Qb6).

Yes, the Podebrad variation is very interesting and would be deserving of its own thread if the Classical were theoretically hot. I think black is fully O.K., if he plays precisely.

"the latest CBM recommends 8. Bxf6 gf 9. Nb3 ... sees an advantage for White in all lines." 

As you say. "Eh?"

We can get a maze of variations and games. I tried to follow along and came up with this game:

Montoliu Cervero, F-Bernal Moro, L TCh-ESP 2nd Div 2016 (Linares ESP) 1/2-1/2  Round 6 2016



Overall, I think white may be a bit better, but black has chances too.
  
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RdC
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #66 - 04/10/18 at 18:26:51
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IsaVulpes wrote on 03/23/18 at 00:48:44:
At that point you're either arguing Najdorf players should go for 6. ..Nc6 against the 6.Bg5 mainline (which is currently chosen in ~2% of games)


You can play .. Nc6 and .. Qb6 as in 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 Nc6 7. f4 Qb6 . The problem is that the queenless middlegame after 8. Nb3 Qe3+ 9. Qe2 Qxe2 is by no means as easy to play as you might hope it would be.
  
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gewgaw
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #65 - 04/10/18 at 17:43:38
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Carlsen and Caruana used the classical Sicilian as a winning try in crucial games, but in both games White (Karjakin, Anand) had everything under control.

What about 6. ...Qb6?!!
  

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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #64 - 04/09/18 at 23:06:08
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Another sideline was just played by Kozul in all three Black games in a match against Djukic:  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cd 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Qb6.  Each time the continuation was 8. Nb3 Be7 9. O-O-O O-O, which transposes to an old major line (7...Be7 8. 0-0-0 0-0 9. Nb3 Qb6).

On the other hand, the latest CBM recommends 8. Bxf6 gf 9. Nb3:  "Black would be doing well after 8.Nb3 a6, but Leonid Kritz recommends the intermediary exchange on f6. In the resulting typical Rauser positions our author sees an advantage for White in all lines."  Eh?
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #63 - 03/23/18 at 03:11:48
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IsaVulpes wrote on 03/23/18 at 00:48:44:
Surely 6. ..a6 can't exactly be "the new kid on the block"?
At that point you're either arguing Najdorf players should go for 6. ..Nc6 against the 6.Bg5 mainline (which is currently chosen in ~2% of games), or willingly playing an inferior variation?


Certainly not a new line, but perhaps neglected. The best analysis may be from the pre-computer era. I've loaded the ChessPublishing files into BookUp, which has its pros and cons. Anyway here is a comment from CP:

"Thomas Hendrich enquired about this Najdorf/Richter-Rauzer line, which has been mentioned by John Emms.

Black is currently in good health in a number of critical lines of the 6Bg5 variation (6...Nbd7 and the Delayed Poisoned Pawn spring to mind), but if he is keen to get a lower-rated opponent on to less familiar territory and away from any forced drawing lines, the text isn't such a bad choice. It does help if Black has some understanding of the Rauzer to play this line, but if he does there are definite chances to gradually out manoeuvre White."

Of course I have been looking at this from the Classical move order. One advantage is that 6Be3 is less critical as a response in the Classical Sicilian. In general, I think more players are preparing for the Najdorf than for the Classical.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #62 - 03/23/18 at 03:01:38
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Correction:

FIDE Chess devotes 29 (!) columns to 7Bxf6 gxf6. Most RR players have come to grips with this revised pawn structure and are NOT too scared.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #61 - 03/23/18 at 02:59:05
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1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5!? a6!?. The best source I've found on this is FIDE Chess B60-65, 1997, pgs 11 to 14. twenty years old. This is indeed a well forgotten line.

There are several alternatives. FIDE Chess answers 7Be2 with Bd7 leading to equality. But I like 7Be2 Qa5. Not mentioned is 7Bc4. Here to black can play 7...Qa5. FIDE Chess analyzes 7Nb3 to equality. In general moves line Nb3 or Be2 seem non-critical in the Richter-Rauzer (RR). 7f4 is interesting. FIDE Chess gives 7...Ng4! as their favored line. They also consider 7...Qb6 slightly better for white (I'm not sure), and 7...Bd7 equal (again I'm not so sure).

FIDE Chess devotes 29 (!) columns to 7Bxf6 gxf6. Most RR players have come to grips with this revised pawn structure and are too scared. After 8Bc4 Qb6 9Nde2 g6 or 9...Qxb2, we get interesting positions. I have not evaluated this personally, but SF initially favors black. Many columns are devoted to 7Bxf6 gxf6 8Be2. Again, I don't think Be2 and 0-0 ideas are too dangerous for black. There is also 7Bxf6 gxf6 8Nb3. Again, a retreating move like Nb3 does not seem to critical, although there is nothing wrong with white trying it out.

7Bxf6 gxf6 8Qd2 seems like the right RR way for white to play, given that he traded on move 7. Here, somewhat surprisingly for me, FIDE Chess finds equality for black in each of the four columns examined.

Saving the best for last: 17 columns on 7Qd2 Nxd4 8Qxd4. FIDE Chess examines 8...e5 and 8...Qa5. 8...e5 9Qa4 seems to favor white.

7Qd2 Nxd4 8Qxd4 Qa5. On move 9, Bd2, f4, and Bxf6 are considered. FIDE Chess only claims an advantage after Bxf6. Personally, I'm a skeptic of the un-prompted Bxf6 in the Rauzer unless, so perhaps white should re-consider 9Bd2 9f4 and also 9Qd2.

Two columns for 7Qd2 Nxd4 8Qxd4 Qa5 9Bxf6 gxf6 100-0-0 Rg8 11Kb1. Here black FIDE Chess continues with 11...f5, but black has move 11 alternatives, e.g. Bg7 Bd7 and Be6. After 11...f5 12Nd5 Be6 13exf Bxf5 14Bc4 FIDE Chess says white has the initiative. Stockfish rather prefers black after 14...Rg4.

Considering the many, many satisfactory lines in the Classical Sicilian, the only question that remains is:  Does "best play" give white the advantage? As far as I can tell, the answer is no.

There certainly is some theory on the Classical Sicilian, but I think there is even more theory in the Najdorf, Dragon, and other lines. So, all in all, I think the Classical Sicilian is worth playing to get your opponent on his own in a relatively solid, but still unbalanced line.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #60 - 03/23/18 at 00:48:44
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Surely 6. ..a6 can't exactly be "the new kid on the block"?
At that point you're either arguing Najdorf players should go for 6. ..Nc6 against the 6.Bg5 mainline (which is currently chosen in ~2% of games), or willingly playing an inferior variation?
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #59 - 03/23/18 at 00:41:28
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"Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?" Or, why play the Classical Sicilian?

The Classical Sicilian starts after the moves:  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6. White has many reasonable 6th moves that lead to interesting positions with about equal chances: Be2, Be3, g3, f3, f4, h3. I often see Be2 and Be3.

A better move for white is the aggressive 6Bc4. At first black responded with 6...e6, later black added 6...Qb6 to his options. Both moves are O.K., but black has been outscoring white with the Benko variation, 6...Qb6!? for several years! So far nothing to complain about.

The real challenge comes from 6Bg5, the Richter-Rauzer. Once again, a lot of IM/GM attention was focused on e6. This leads to many tricky lines. I've looked at several, and will probably do so in the future. It's hard to shake white's advantage if he plays precisely.

The success of the Benko variation in the Sozin, 6Bc4 Qb6, has shaken me from my lazy ways (black moves of e6 Be7 0-0 against everything). Maybe the inherent logic of the Classical is piece development. But rather than 6...Bd7 or 6...Qb6, I've been looking at 6...a6 with appropriate follow-up (Qa5, Qb6, etc.)
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #58 - 02/23/18 at 20:57:55
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In the Richter Rauzer I always thought that 6...a6 was as reasonable a move as the Larsen variation, 6...Bd7. Yet 6...a6 didn't seem to get any respect. I'm glad to say that ChessPublishing has given it a little attention. What should we call it? The Rodney Dangerfield variation? The RauzerDorf? From ChessPublishing:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5!? a6!? 7. Qd2 Nxd4!? 8. Qxd4 Qa5 9. f4 e5!? 10. Qd2 Be7 11. f5 b5 12. Bxf6 Bxf6! 13. O-O-O O-O 14. h4 Bb7 15. Nd5 Qxa2 16. Nxf6+ gxf6 17. Qh6 Qa1+ 18. Kd2 Qa5+ 19. Kc1 Qa1+ with perpetual check.
  
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