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anaxagoras ♡ 153 ( +1 | -1 )
Sicilian Fantacism While the great majority of my games here at GK with the White pieces are 1 d4 games, I have recently decided on a change of venue and mostly play 1 e4 now. I made this change because I want to familiarize myself with the 1 e4 openings, but am chagrined to discover that I will only be learning the Sicilian (ok that's an exaggeration, barely though!). What's the deal here? I really don't believe that the Sicilian is an objectively superior defence, and even if it were the players here at GK aren't skilled enough for an "uber" defence to make a lick of difference. On the contrary, I thought a chess player is supposed to select his defence based on his preferences and personal style, not on what the Grandmaster's play. I imagine the thousands here hunched over their Sicilian textbooks apeing the moves recommended by Grandmaster Bob or whoever; good grief. It would be no better if 75% of our players came forward and said "no, we really do play the sicilian because it fits our preferences and style etc." because then they would merely be uniform and boring, without any significant psychological difference to speak of. Is this a symptom of correspondance chess in general? Is it the case that a lot of the people who play here like it because they can mimic Grandmaster Bob through the first twenty moves of the Nadjorf? I'll admit that I do sometimes refer to chessbooks and the database here at GK; I'd be a fool not to, and I don't think there's anything inherently bad in doing so--but at least I give myself some variety with the Black pieces!
baseline ♡ 15 ( +1 | -1 )
perhaps if we ask Grandmaster Bob,\ why he perferrs the Sicilian he might tell us that it leads to unbalanced positions where one might expect a decisive result.
roland_l ♡ 10 ( +1 | -1 )
I know what you mean .... ... anaxagoras. That certainly seems to be true, with the other main response an ol' Lopez on Rye.
anaxagoras ♡ 45 ( +1 | -1 )
baseline, everything we play can lead to a decisive result, and often does! I don't disagree with you either. What seems true is that psychologically the % of sicilians in the GK database is startling (especially in the 1900+ category). What I know about the defence is that it's theoretically extensive and has been played by a lot of the greats. But that doesn't weigh as much as the % of Sicilians here at GK if I assume that we're normal, level headed people--does it?
basti1981 ♡ 99 ( +1 | -1 )
ähum I don't play 1. e4 neither, but your experience does not come as a surprise to me, I guess the majority of the 1. d4 players does not respond to 1.e4 with e5, that excludes the one or another line, and one is less dependent on whites opening choice (Ruy Lopez, or Scotch, Giuoco Piano, Evan's Gambit and so on and so forth) leaves 2-3 main responses to 1.e4
1....c5 sicilian
1....e6 french
1....c6 caro-kann

(I know there are some other responses out there, but I guess these are the common ones).

from those 3 lines the sicilian is the most dynamic one I guess, so those who prefer those positions will be more likely to choose the sicilian.
Another aspect might be: hey all the the great champions like Kasparov or Fischer play(ed) those lines, so it has to be a great response to 1.e4 does not matter if I understand them or not. In other words the top players have always been more or less some kind of trendsetters concerning openings and at that level there's a majority currently favoring the sicilian.
jeffreydot ♡ 84 ( +1 | -1 )
anaxagoras I attempt to play the sicilian kan variation for the opposite of what you said. I got bored w/ every game starting 1e4,e5 2 nf3....etc It may just be at my modest level that 1...,c5 isn't seen much, but I really enjoy playing that variation. NO, I don't huddle over a book, and NO I don't follow the lines of those who have gone before me. I actually rarely ever reach the position, however, I have noticed that I put a lot more thought into games I open w/ c5. I also don't feel as though I am following whites lead as much, I just sort of fortify while daring white to come in, and look for a hole to attack. I have also learned a lot about winning center battles, and focusing my attacks. Again...I am, but a beginer. If you have any other openings you would suggest to respond to e4 Im open for suggestions...particularly unorthodox.

leo_london ♡ 47 ( +1 | -1 )
I guess that most players stick with lines that bring results. Tennis players dont play left handed because Rod Laver was a great left handed player, or play a baseline game if their strength is serve/volley. I know many players like to " explore " different openings/positions but in the end the objective is to win, does it matter if games are repetitive and boring ?... maybe Im a Philistine and not a true chess purist.
basti1981 ♡ 79 ( +1 | -1 )
probably right (at least to 90%) your remarks are probably correct to a certain degree, but that doesn't explain increasing number of players playing the najdorf, with limited/no knowledge of the lines, one gets very messy positions, and Theory is in this particular variation of the Sicilian a matter (ECO B90-B99), but nevertheless it's very popular among all classes of players (Najdorf doesn't score better than the Kan Variation, but has much more lines and is probably more complicated), I'm honestly doubting that a 1500 (or less) rated player is understanding it (I guess there a 1800+ rated players out there who do not completely understand it) but nevertheless the variation is widespread, I think there my point about the trendsetting character of the top players is a better approach (Kasparov, Fischer and Tal play(ed) it, so it has to be the best variation).
jeffreydot ♡ 89 ( +1 | -1 )
two more cents! Do you really believe a 1500 or under rated REALLY understands ANY opening? Really the only main principle I understand from the kan variation is to protect the e5 square with your dear life, because my knight on f3 is important for my position [I admit I don't exactly know why :)], and that has seemed to help me. Honestly though, we have to start somewhere. I wont one day reach a rating of 1900, and suddenly every opening and their variations will be obsorbed into me. I feel people [of all rates] would really benifit from a mixture of the ground that masters [and computers] have paved, and a bit of their own creativity. Originality is more impressive than memorizing every line of every variation, granted but you really put yourself at a disadvantage not using proven techniques that others are....just look at my rating :) ...I KNOW from experience!!


bucklehead ♡ 242 ( +1 | -1 )
A different perspective... When I was a kid, I played hundreds of games with my father. It's hard now to get the clearest picture of how he played, but they were all more or less 1 e4 e5 games...until I was 8 or 9 I doubt I played any other system than the most boring Four Knights imaginable. I curse him a little bit for this, because here it is 25 years later and only now am I starting to do any real in-depth work on building a stable repertoire.

Anyway, so we play hundreds of 1 e4 e5 games, and then one night when I'm 10 or 11 I'm sitting down playing white and I move my KP out to the blessed square...and he plays c5! I was dumbfounded, and I told him so. He explained to me that he'd been playing some guys at work, that this was their move of choice, and it was called "The Sicilian." Now, at the time I felt very strongly that my dad was the Best Player Ever, so the fact that he was out there playing in public against guys who had *names* for things...well, that carried an awful lot of weight. Now, the truth is that my dad is a mediocre player, and neither of us understood anything about the Sicilian Defense, but at that moment it didn't really matter. It had acquired, in my mind, something very close to holiness.

I started to wonder about these things, and not long after I went to the library and checked out a chess book I didn't remotely understand, but I started to see names like "Scotch" and "Ruy" and "Piano"...I was so excited that, in a game against my friend Josh, I went ahead and played 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Bc5 and then slammed my KB right into that fat f7 pawn for no other reason than I wanted to see what would happen (I lost, badly, and Josh told me I shouldn't play things I didn't understand. He was right, but I'm still not really listening to that advice.). I stopped being afraid of pawns, quitting my sawtooth "pawn wall" approach, instead opting for the frequently rash d4 over the safe and boring d3.

I never took up the Sicilian--in college I bought a book (which I did a better job of understanding) and adopted the Petrov instead. But as recently as a month ago I was sitting and wondering whether the Sveshnikov was the line for me. This is because it is The Sicilian, not some mere "opening." Rightly or wrongly, I believe it has attained this degree of cachet with players of all levels...isn't it natural that us mere patzers should be out there practicing fade-away jump shots instead of free throws? Is it "good chess"? Probably not. Does it matter?

leo_london ♡ 63 ( +1 | -1 )
bucklehead Great post. Not only interesting and amusing, it highlights the need to understand the reasoning behind various openings. In my opinion it is better to REALLY understand a few openings than memorize dozens. I dont quite see why a relative novice should not be able to understand the reasoning behind even the most complicated variations, there is plenty of infomation around. Of course puting that theory into practice is a different matter. I think the ease of access to the database has also led to laziness, I am sure some folks are now just playing the "percentage" move without giving the position much thought.
cryptos ♡ 44 ( +1 | -1 )
why i play the najdorf The depth of theory is one of the reasons I play the najdorf. It's pretty easy to mess up the sicilian on either side, for instance if white doesn't play an early a3 or a4, and the depth of theory means you've got more chance of catching people out. In a Ruy Lopez or Caro-Kann I find it pretty hard to come up with constructive plans as black - they tend to be pretty positional and if you make a mistake the consequences aren't always so serious.
basti1981 ♡ 136 ( +1 | -1 )
Never told anybody not to play the sicilian. Yes, I believe that so-called patzer, are capable of understanding Ideas behind openings (some ideas more, some less) , Yes, I do believe understanding of ideas is more important than "stupid" memorizing of lines, BUT there are also some openings (or variations) I would not recommend them to play, the Najdorf Variation is one of those less recommendable variations, because it is one of the most complex variations in the whole sicilian. I would rather suggest to take a look at the Kan instead (which is difficult enough).
I wouldn't advice the Grünfeld Indian or Ben Oni as a good response for lower rated players neither, esp. the Grünfeld is a bit too tricky (I know more or less the ideas behind some lines of the Grünfeld, but wouldn't play it neither).

Creativity is an important part of chess, that's true, but so is theory, theory is "developing" (hum, sounds a bit esoterical even too me, but anyhow), some ideas have proven to be good and some have less, some of the lines which were regarded as inferior reappear with a completely new idea (and so and so forth), theory is in a way "the experience made by others" (esoterical again I know), I guess it would probably be harder to reinvent the wheel every single game. And the theoritical development is in some openings faster than in others, another reason not to recommend certain lines.
basti1981 ♡ 25 ( +1 | -1 )
oops "I wouldn't advice the Grünfeld Indian or Ben Oni as a good response for lower rated players neither, esp. the Grünfeld is a bit too tricky (I know more or less the ideas behind some lines of the Grünfeld, but wouldn't play it neither). "

means as response to 1.d4
premium_steve ♡ 45 ( +1 | -1 )
i never play sicilian as black and always play 2.c3 against it as white.
so i don't need to read a word about najdorf, scheveningen, kan, taimanov, dragon, accelerated dragon, pelikan, sveshnikov, nothing! ;)
and really i haven't read much about it... only in annotated games.
but every game interests me. most openings.
i say one of two things to myself: "cool! i play that opening!" or "cool! i'd like to learn that opening!"
baseline ♡ 56 ( +1 | -1 )
anaxagoras as a beginner/novice I played 1...e5 as an intermediate I played 1...d5 and 1...e6 I didn't take up the Sicilian until I was an expert. The general theory behind the Sicilian is no more dificult than the alternatives as I mentioned before the positions are unbalanced and there are more decisive results in a Sicilian than a Ruy Lopez and there by more dangerous and more risky. Since the Sicilian is so popular with Grandmasters you have a continuting sourse of high level material to help you improve your game. If you find it boring just go back to 1.d4 and forget about the Sicilian.
naiad ♡ 24 ( +1 | -1 )
Thought I'd better... I've just started looking at the Sicillian simply because I thought I should. It is very popular and I felt that without at least trying to get a basic understanding of it I'd soon find myself out of my depth when confronted with it.
anaxagoras ♡ 36 ( +1 | -1 )
I do think the Sicilian is fun to play, and otb with friends I give it an occasional whirl. No doubt it can be beneficial to try it from both sides of the board. The opening itself is not boring, that much is obvious, what's a little tiresome is merely that I see it >75% of the time when I play e4 here. Oddly enough, e5 is a response I've seen less than c6 and e6 as well.
baseline ♡ 9 ( +1 | -1 )
I think alot of people would just as soon avoid the Spanish Torture! :o)