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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Is the Classical Sicilian that bad? (Read 47713 times)
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #76 - 06/11/18 at 23:28:49
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kylemeister wrote on 06/07/18 at 17:52:09:
s that with 8...Ne5 9. Be3 Qc7 10. f4 Nc6 11. g4?  I note that that was considered as leading to += back in NCO (Gallagher).


Pretty much. Except that he suggests 11Qe2 a6 and then 12g4.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #75 - 06/07/18 at 17:52:09
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FreeRepublic wrote on 04/14/18 at 14:45:46:
Max recommends 6...Qb6 7Nb3 e6 7Bf4!?


Is that with 8...Ne5 9. Be3 Qc7 10. f4 Nc6 11. g4?  I note that that was considered as leading to += back in NCO (Gallagher).
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #74 - 06/07/18 at 17:03:06
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I have played a number of games at standard time controls with a friend (I suppose you'd call them "training games") in the line 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Bg5 Qb6.

I don't remember the details, but we came to the conclusion that if Black plays ...e6, ...Be7, ...0-0 and plans ...Rfd8 followed by ...d5, he doesn't need to play ...a6 and the effective "extra" tempo is important (Black is OK).

Sometimes Black has to deal with ...Na4 ideas, but the knight doesn't do a lot on a4, especially if b6 isn't weak.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #73 - 05/19/18 at 04:49:09
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ChessPublishing gave a game that ended in a perpetual check after the moves:
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+
and also 15Kb1 Rfc8!?

However after 15Kb1 Rfc8 16g4!? white threatens a pawn roller, and it is not clear that black can obtain satisfactory counterplay.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #72 - 04/14/18 at 15:22:48
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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 14:45:46
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gewgaw wrote on 04/10/18 at 16:43:38:
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 20:54:30
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gewgaw wrote on 04/10/18 at 16:43:38:
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 18:05:28
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RdC wrote on 04/10/18 at 17:26:51:
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 18:00:36
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gewgaw wrote on 04/10/18 at 16:43:38:
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 17:44:53
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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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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #66 - 04/10/18 at 17:26:51
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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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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #65 - 04/10/18 at 16:43:38
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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 22:06:08
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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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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #57 - 11/04/17 at 20:45:10
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Many posts have encouraged black to play the Kozul variation. I was put off on that a few years ago by the advent of the English attack from that variation. I don't think the English attack is a refutation, just one more headache for black.

So Kozul players must be prepared for both
1e4 c5 2Nf3 Nc6 3d4 cxd4 4Nxd4 Nf6 5Nc3 d6 6Bg5 e6 7Qd2 a6 80-0-0 b5
9f4
and
9f3
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #56 - 11/04/17 at 20:37:14
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You are right. It was a hot topic, though I am not aware of a really strong reply.

After 1e4 c5 2Nf3 Nc6 3d4 cxd4 4Nxd4 Nf6 5Nc3 d6 6Bg5 e6 7Qd2 a6 80-0-0 Nxd4!? 9Qxd4 Be7, 10h4 scores very well for white. However, if black replies ...Qc7 (vs. e5) 11f3 b5, we get back to English attack lines that seem O.K. For example, 12Kb1 Bb7 13Qd2 Rc8 and black outscores white in my data base.

Statistical scores and computer evaluations both have their pitfalls. Like an ECO evaluation, they are not definitive. Still, it may point the way towards lines you might want to play.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #55 - 11/04/17 at 19:47:00
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I seem to recall that that line was a hot topic about 20 years ago.  (Reminds me of a suggestion by ErictheRed to play stuff top players were playing back around that time.)
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #54 - 11/04/17 at 19:20:39
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I forgot to mention that this line is also covered in the Complete Richter Rauzer by Wells and Osnos pg 58-61.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #53 - 11/04/17 at 19:14:05
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White has many 6th move alternatives in the Classical Sicilian, but in my opinion 6Bg5! is the most dangerous. 6Bc4!? is also aggressive. All other sixth moves, Be2, Be3, f4, g3 lead to interesting games with equal chances.

Alex Yermolinsky devoted a large proportion (50%?) of his Classical Sicilian book to 6Bg5. 6Bg5 is the move chosen for white in Experts vs. the Sicilian and in Dismantling the Sicilian.

As black, I've considered most of black responses. I've only recently turned my attention to the following line:
1e4 c5 2Nf3 Nc6 (or d6) 3d4 cxd4 4Nxd4 Nf6 5Nc3 d6 (or Nc6) 6Bg5 e6 7Qd2 a6 80-0-0 Nxd4!? 9Qxd4 Be7.

I'm somewhat encouraged by what I've seen. As black, I'm not expecting an easy game, but I do want my share of chances. Chess Publishing and other sources treat this line with respect.

White has two major plans: 10f4 and the English attack 10f3 (10h4 or 10Kb1 followed by f3). After 10f4 b5, the main line is 11Bxf6 gxf6 and now 12e5 and 12f5 are among the moves that have been played.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #52 - 09/09/17 at 08:48:44
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TN wrote on 09/09/17 at 02:13:23:
Also, I worked on this ...Be7/...0-0 a couple of years ago but found some problem lines. It's better to play 7...a6 8.0-0-0 Bd7 in my opinion.


According to computer engines, the unlikely looking 11. .. b6 is the improvement in the Fischer game. That at least enables the Bishop to emerge at a6, even if it does block the retreat of the Queen.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #51 - 09/09/17 at 02:13:23
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That hilarious game below:



Also, I worked on this ...Be7/...0-0 a couple of years ago but found some problem lines. It's better to play 7...a6 8.0-0-0 Bd7 in my opinion.
  

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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #50 - 09/09/17 at 00:40:29
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FreeRepublic wrote on 09/08/17 at 20:39:16:
I played white in a speed game.

After
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. f4 h6 10. Bh4,

I was surprised by ...a6.

It is a perfectly natural move and seems to lead to reasonable play. If there is a refutation, it was not immediately obvious to me.


Hmm, in a Russian opening encylopedia from the '90s, V. Osnos (who co-authored The Complete Richter-Rauzer with Peter Wells) awarded 10...a6 a question mark, giving 11. Nxc6 bc 12. e5 etc. from a game Matanovic-Sofrevski.

(Side note: I know of Sofrevski mainly from an account that he was prepared by Geller for a game against Fischer, which resulted in Fischer winning in 19 moves.)
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #49 - 09/08/17 at 20:39:16
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I played white in a speed game.

After
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. f4 h6 10. Bh4,

I was surprised by ...a6.

It is a perfectly natural move and seems to lead to reasonable play. If there is a refutation, it was not immediately obvious to me.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #48 - 06/19/17 at 16:30:42
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You are right. 11...Bd7 really is a sideline (a very rare one). It would have been nice to make it work.

I've shifted my attention to:
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. f4 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 h6 11. Bh4 Qa5 12. Bc4 e5 13. fxe5 dxe5 14. Qd3.

I discussed this a little in a post a couple days ago.

It's not a new line. In fact it is one of black's main lines. I was not optimistic at first, but I'm starting to like it for black.

There are a lot of nuances for both sides, so preparation and experience may pay good dividends.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #47 - 06/19/17 at 13:48:58
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Note though that 11. .. Bd7 is really a sideline: the most common move by far is 11. .. Qa5 (also possible is 11. .. a6).
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #46 - 06/19/17 at 10:37:46
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Jup. The positions after 12 e5 look very prospectless for Black and what the main problem is: it's just sooo easy for White to calculate that far! And it's not hard to assess this position as better for White, either.
Most people that play the Sicilian and are reasonably educated should at least know that these Bxf6, Qxd6 stuff often results in good compensation for Black and therefore should rather refrain from doing that, which means they will start calculating e5 pretty soon and that's where the fun ends, right?
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #45 - 06/19/17 at 02:52:21
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It does look like Black has a few decent options against 12 Bxf6, and indeed 12 e5 appears to be the real issue.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #44 - 06/19/17 at 01:31:11
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It looks like after some fairly deep analysis (Stockfish 8 to depth 40) that Black has some equalizing lines after 13. .. Bh4. Both 14. exd6 Qa5 and 14. exd6 Bc6 appear to work. In the former line Stockfish likes 15. a3 instead of Pruijsser's 15. Qe5, although Qe5 may be ok too with correct play. (Note too I am not saying the computer is infallible here: take with a grain of salt).


« Last Edit: 06/19/17 at 10:04:15 by jdart »  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #43 - 06/17/17 at 00:14:57
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Well the line I considered for black:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. f4 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 h6 11. Bh4 Bd7 12. e5 dxe5 13. fxe5 Nd5 14. Bxe7 Qxe7 15. Nxd5 exd5 16. Bd3! Rfe8 is suffering, as detailed by MN.

Alex Yermolinsky covers many lines in his book. Here is one found on pg 75.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. f4 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 h6 11. Bh4 Qa5 12. Bc4 e5 13. fxe5 dxe5 14. Qd3. The play up to this point seems natural. Black has not had to contort himself to stay in the game (at least not yet). Alex explains his game against Michael Adams in detail. He suggests a few more moves as possibly most precise: 15...Bg4 15. Rdf1 Rac8 16. Bxf6 Bxf6 17Bb3.

There are some tactics under the surface. For example Alex mentions the natural 16Bb3 Rxc3! 17Qxc3 Qxc3 18bxc3 Ba3ch 19Kb1 Nxe4 with advantage to black.

After 17Bb3, black might reply with Bh4, or Be6, or R(f)d8. Besides 17Bb3, white can consider 17Kb1 and 17Nd5.

I rather like the lines where black plays Be6 allowing Bxe6 fxe6. Black gets control of central squares with his doubled e pawns and the open f file can prove beneficial.

Yermolinsky present the moves ...Bg4 and ...Bh4. This bishop duo on the king side looks odd to me, but it seems they can gum up the works in white's hoped-for attack.

Working with Stockfish, it seems that black can get chances. However, practice has favored white. So I suggest that players of the black pieces prepare. Try to get a feel and understanding for this line before your first game.
  
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mn
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #42 - 06/14/17 at 18:58:23
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I feel like White should be at least a little better here objectively, and I think Black faces a thankless practical task:

1. White was more space (which you mentioned)
2. White has a better Bishop
3. Black's King looks more likely to come under attack than White's.

After 17 Rhe1 Be6 18 Kb1 (18 Re3!?) 18...Rec8, while I assume you wouldn't advocate playing the ...Rc5/...b5 plan automatically, here's an example of what can happen if Black does:

19 Re3 Rc5 20 Rg3 b5?! 21 Qe3 Kh8 22 Rf1 (followed by Rf4-h4)

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Point being, White's attack has the potential to develop a lot more quickly, as the ...h6 hook gives him a target (which Black lacks on the Queenside).

Of course, Black can always try to bail out with something like 19...Qc5, when in addition to 20 Qf4, 20 c3 is probably good, as any ending like this:

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is clearly thankless for Black.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #41 - 06/14/17 at 03:29:43
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After
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. f4 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 h6 11. Bh4 Bd7!? 12. e5 dxe5 13. fxe5 Nd5 14. Bxe7 Qxe7 15. Nxd5 exd5 16. Bd3!material is even and each side has a weak central
pawn. Both kings can come under attack. White has a little more space. So it sounds like it could be even if black proceeds with care.

I think black does best to play 16...Rfe8!?
White can defend with either rook.
If 17. Rde1, ...Bf5! seems Ok.
If 17. Rhe1, I recommend 17...Be6. After a typical 18Kb1, R(e)c8 intends Rc5 followed with ...b5.

Either way, a typical tense RR game ensues.

So now all we need is are reliable answers to 9f3 and 9Nb3. That shouldn't be too hard.  Smiley
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #40 - 06/12/17 at 17:54:36
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After 6. Bg5 e6  7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. f4 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 h6 11. Bh4 Bd7 12. e5 dxe5 13. fxe5 Nd5 14. Bxe7 Qxe7 15. Nxd5 exd5, black is OK if white plays the obvious move 16Qxd5. Black can respond with Bg4 or Bc6 with a good game despite being a pawn down.

Unfortunately 16. Bd3! seems to favor white somewhat, as far as I can tell.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #39 - 06/11/17 at 21:11:49
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Fair point. I suppose in the version without ...h6, Black would do better to take on b2 instead of ...Bd4, but that looks like it leads to a Rook ending that's better for White.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #38 - 06/11/17 at 20:55:02
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There is an Informant monograph (FIDE chess) on B60-5.

Glenn Wilson did some great analysis. 15...Qb6!? can be used against both 15Qb4 and 15Qe3. Still 15Qb4 a5!? has a certain RR charm.

I would love to do without h6. But consider the following line:

6. Bg5 e6  7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. f4 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 h6 11. Bh4 Bd7 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. Qxd6 Bc6 14. Qxd8 Rfxd8 15. Bb5 Bxc3 16. Bxc6 Bd4 17. Bxb7 Rab8 18.c3 Be3+ 19. Kc2 Rxd1 20. Rxd1 Rxb7

Isn't it nice to have luft?
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #37 - 06/11/17 at 20:21:51
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FreeRepublic wrote on 06/11/17 at 20:05:15:
FIDE put out a little book on B60-5. They covered this, but without h6 Bh4.


FIDE?  I thought you might be referring to an Informant monograph, but as far as I know they didn't do B65.  (They're still offering B66 and B67-69 ...)
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #36 - 06/11/17 at 20:11:09
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FreeRepublic wrote on 06/11/17 at 20:05:15:
I think black has to include h6 Bh4.


I was about to suggest the opposite, actually - does Black necessarily have to throw in ...h6, potentially weakening the Kingside and giving White the extra option of 11 h4 - ?
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #35 - 06/11/17 at 20:05:15
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Of course you're not convinced. It is an absurd line. If 15...Bc6, then 16Ne4 as you suggested. 15...a5 seems better.

FIDE put out a little book on B60-5. They covered this, but without h6 Bh4. I think black has to include h6 Bh4. They suggested ...a5 Qb3, end of analysis. It seems to me that capturing the b pawn is more natural.

So to recap:
6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O  9. f4 h6 10. Bh4 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Bd7 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. e5 Be7 14. exd6 Bf6 15. Qb4!? a5!

And now 16. Qxb7 Bxc3 17. bxc3 Rb8 18. Qc7 Qf6 unclear.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #34 - 06/11/17 at 19:58:16
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Ah, I've found the answer to my own question.

The slightly paradoxical 15...Qb6! when:

A) 16 a3 Qe3+ 17 Kb1 a5! (17...Bxc3 18 Qxc3 Qxc3 19 bxc3 is possible as well) 18 Qe4 (18 Qb3 Qxf4=) 18...Qc5 and Black has a serious initiative.

B) 16 Qxb6 axb6 and now:

   B1) 17 Ne4 Rxa2 18 Nxf6+ gxf6 19 Bc4 Ra5 - despite Black's mess of a structure, I don't see a clear way forward for White.

   B2) 17 Bb5 Bxb5 18 Nxb5 gives back the pawn in exchange for breaking the blockade on the d7 square. However, after 18...Rxa2 19 c3 Ra5 followed by ...Rd8 and ...Rd7, I don't see any problems for Black.

   B3) 17 Bc4 Bc6! (I think this is more accurate than 17...Bxc3 18 bxc3 Bc6 because now 19 Rhe1!; White can ignore the threat to his g2 pawn, because without the Bishop on f6, the d-pawn is far more dangerous.) 18 f5!? (18 Rhg1 Bxc3 19 bxc3 Ra4=), and now a sample variation could go 18...Bxc3 19 bxc3 exf5 20 Rhe1 b5 21 Bd5 Rfd8 22 Kb2 Kf8 23 Re7 Bxd5 24 Rxd5 Rxd6! 25 Rxf7+ Kxf7 26 Rxd6 f4 with an ending that should be okay for Black.

This can also be played if White tries 15 Qe3 instead of 15 Qb4, as after 15 Qe3 Qb6!, I don't really think White has anything better than taking on b6.


  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #33 - 06/11/17 at 19:24:24
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I can't say I'm convinced - what's the plan after 15 Qb4 (intending Ne4) - ?
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #32 - 06/11/17 at 18:18:46
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Here is one interesting way:

6. Bg5! e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O  9. f4 h6 10. Bh4 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Bd7!? 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. e5 Be7 14. exd6 Bf6

  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #31 - 06/11/17 at 17:12:58
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Alex Fishbein -- now there's a Classical Sicilian player from way back ...
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #30 - 06/11/17 at 16:54:05
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mn wrote on 06/11/17 at 05:38:51:
What's happening if White inserts 12 Bxf6 Bxf6 before going e5?


That is what the Hiarcs opening book recommends. It looks good for White. One game:

  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #29 - 06/11/17 at 05:38:51
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What's happening if White inserts 12 Bxf6 Bxf6 before going e5?
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #28 - 06/11/17 at 03:37:08
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"I might return to the Classical if I could find a line I really trust against the Richter-Rauzer"

I found a fun speed game at the ICC:

[Event "ICC"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2017.06.10"]
[White "SillyWizard"]
[Black "yozhik"]
[Result "*"]
[TimeControl "300+0"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. f4 h6 10. Bh4 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Bd7 12. e5 dxe5 13. fxe5 Nd5 14. Bxe7 Qxe7 15. Nxd5 exd5 16. Qxd5 Bg4 17. Re1 Rfd8 18. Qe4 Qg5+ 19. Kb1 Bf5 20. Qf3 Bxc2+ 21. Ka1 Rac8 22. Be2 Bd1 23. a3 Qc1+ 24. Ka2 Rd2 25. Qxb7 Rxb2+ 26. Qxb2  Rc2 *

A line you can trust.  Wink

  

SillyWizard-yozhik.pgn ( 0 KB | 154 Downloads )
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #27 - 05/22/17 at 08:45:22
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I also had the impression that it is fully playable, although more passive than other tries. The bishop often doesn't need to go to e7, that's why these refinements like the Kozul variation became more popular. Structure-wise, it's of course the same. But you committed your bishop to a passive square already, whereas in other lines it might go to g7 or h6.
On the other hand, lines may be less forcing.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #26 - 05/21/17 at 23:35:17
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Well, I don't know that anyone has ever claimed that that old Spassky main line (as I think of it) isn't playable. 

I'm reminded that Edmar Mednis chose between 9...Be7 and 9...b5 based on the tournament situation and such.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #25 - 05/21/17 at 23:08:35
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I notice GM Roiz just analyzed 8...Bd7 9.f4 Be7 in the Richter-Rauzer on the main site. It looks like he's claiming "...this system still looks playable for the second player".

I'm not subscribed at the moment since I hardly play, but it must be worth checking out for those who are.

Last fall I looked at Negi's chapter on the Richter-Rauzer, and what struck me was just how many different ways Black has to play against it. And White can't just meet them on general principles, he must know concrete ideas against each to have hopes of an advantage. That chapter ironically made me want to try it with Black again.

So it take it that the Classical Sicilian can still be a good practical weapon below GM level, even if it's not the very best Sicilian theoretically.
  

Improvement begins at the edge of your comfort zone. -Jonathan Rowson
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #24 - 05/21/17 at 18:56:51
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Please try to read Kozul again. The layout makes it unreadable, I admit, but it's packed with nice explanations.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #23 - 05/21/17 at 13:25:30
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CarriedbyGg wrote on 05/20/17 at 13:28:44:
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


Yermo's book is a terrific collection of annotated games and his opinions, as a very strong exponent of the Classical, are astute and still largely relevant.

Raetsky & Chetverik is their usual competent job but this book didn't inspire me.

Wells & Osnos remains a good source for earlier theory.

As I've mentioned before, my own explorations of the Classical began with "The Easy Guide to the Classical Sicilian" by the Finnish GM Jouni Yrjölä, which would still be my top recommendation for any 1900+ player keen on taking up this opening. The explanations are very good and there is a nice balance of theory and annotated games. Obviously the detailed theory needs some updating but it's very user-friendly and a great place to start.

Kozul's book was a huge disappointment - I find it very hard to use.

Kosten's Chessbase CD did not cover 6 Bg5 but remains useful for other lines.

Marin's DVD - like Bibs, I was initially rather put off by his annoying speech mannerisms, but the material seems very well considered and I'd say it is well worth persevering!
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #22 - 05/20/17 at 13:28:44
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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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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #21 - 05/20/17 at 12:16:15
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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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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #20 - 05/09/17 at 10:22:06
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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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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #19 - 03/29/16 at 13:57:45
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dfan wrote on 03/29/16 at 12:08:56:
Paddy wrote on 03/29/16 at 11:53:15:
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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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #18 - 03/29/16 at 12:08:56
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Paddy wrote on 03/29/16 at 11:53:15:
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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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #17 - 03/29/16 at 11:53:15
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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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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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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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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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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #7 - 02/29/16 at 00:49:01
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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.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #6 - 02/25/16 at 08:53:43
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Interesting, because after working my way through Marin's three volumes on the English, I'd say i really like the presentation and explanations, i.e. great for learning genraöly about the opening. But he has missed quite a few critical lines (already played but incorrectly noted as novelties, engine lines that were pretty clear cut, or logical continuations that were not mentioned e.g.), i.e. not always that great theoretically speaking. This has been discussed before. My question is, was this just specific for those books and has changed now?
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #5 - 02/25/16 at 04:27:55
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In terms of chess content, I think Marin is one of the best Chessbase presenters. (In terms of attention to detail on the critical lines, he seems to have the strongest work.) He may not have the most engaging speaking style, but the quality of his work keeps my attention. His work on the Rauzer deserves serious attention and his coverage of the Velimirovic involves an interesting new approach. You'll need to do some independent work on minor lines though. (For instance, the interesting 8.Nxc6!? in the Modern Rauzer is not mentioned.) I think it's a great place to start and gives a strong argument for the Classical.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #4 - 11/10/15 at 23:07:13
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I tried to, but got stuck with "....uh....uh...uh".
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #3 - 11/10/15 at 21:44:47
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Has anyone viewed Marin's DVD on the Classical Sicilian?
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #2 - 08/24/12 at 08:30:38
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Well there's that (old!) book by Wells which was comprehensive. Could probably team that with the coverage here and get pretty close.

Yes a bit of work involved, but that's of definite benefit in the end Smiley

The Rauser seems to have put people off by and large, but I doubt if it's anything too serious. Just annoying cf the Keres attack vs the Schevy etc.
  
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Re: Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
Reply #1 - 08/24/12 at 00:55:54
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The last two books are by Yermolinsky and Raetsky/Chetverik I believe. But yeah, neither very comprehensive nor very recent, though I like Yermo's writing.

I might return to the Classical if I could:

a) find a line I really trust against the Richter-Rauzer

b) study long and hard to finally understand the Boleslavsky structure - I had a dismal score with both 6.Be2 e5 and 6.f3 e5. Sure there is 6.Be2 g6, but against 6.f3 I never found any alternatives to 6...e5 that I was comfortable with.
  

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Is the Classical Sicilian that bad?
08/23/12 at 23:10:15
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Am I the only person who would love to see a really good well written comprehensive coverage of Classical Sicilian?

My ideal Rep

v Richter-Rauzer (Kozul variation)
v Sozin 6...Qb6
v 6.Be2 both 6...g6 and 6...e5
v 6.Be3 Ng4
v 6.f4 and 6.g3 6...g6
v 6.f3 e5

Nice mix of Dragon, Boleslavsky and Schevingen type set ups.
  
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