Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Sicilian - Alapin variation
Originally wanting to drift away from the opening complexities of the Open Sicilian, I was looking for a viable alternative. I played the Alapin 1. e4 c5 2. c3 a few times with mixed success. I continued looking and found the Grand Prix, which has given me much better results.
The Sicilian Defense, Alapin Variation begins 1. e4 c5 2. c3. It looks rather intriguing, but I don’t see white gaining much of an advantage. Although, I’m certainly not qualified to evaluate an opening, I can see how effective an opening will be for the club player who has a limited amount of time to study. For the average tournament player, it doesn’t seem troublesome for black can easily equalize.
The first variation to evaluate is 2...d5. Many of the moves are natural but I don't think black has any trouble bring out his pieces. Looking at the below position, White has an isolated pawn, Black can put his light bishop on b7. It already looks drawish at best. The position isn't complex enough to give White chances to attack. Many pieces will probably get traded and white's isolated pawn will be a liability. 1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 e6 6. Be2 Nc6 7. O-O cxd4 8. cxd4 Be7 9. Nc3 Qd6
The other major variation is to play 2...Nf6. Here white's pieces are slightly better placed. The pawn on e5 is a good pawn and hinders a Black defense of his kingside. White has better chances to attack. However, white has two isolated pawns on the Queenside. If Black can trade pieces, he will have an endgame advantage.
1. e4 c5 2. c3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nf3 e6 6. cxd4 d6 7. Bc4 Nc6 8. O-O Be7 9. Qe2 O-O 10. Nc3 Nxc3 11. bxc3 dxe5 12. dxe5 Qa5
The third variation, which people didn't seem to play, transposes into the Advance variation of the French defense after 1. e4 c5 2. c3 e6 3. d4 d5 4. e5.
In Part II, I'll add positions I faced over the board.
You are certainly right in pointing out that with "correct" play Black should be able to equalize (something that can probably be said of many [most?] openings). Nevertheless, there are many lines which lead to very interesting play.
Regarding the two lines you mention: In the first, play can continue 10.Nb5 Qd8 11.Bf4 Nd5 12.Bg3 O-O (12...a6 is better)13.Bc4 a6 14.Bxd5 with chances for White. The second is actually considered better for Black since 13.Qe4 can be met by 13...Qa4! Instead, White has several earlier deviations which lead to interesting play, e.g. 10.Qe4, 9.a3 and 9.Re1. Also, in this line a lot of theory has built up around variations where White delays playing d4 (like in my game above).
With the Grand Prix, some natural moves will get Black into trouble.
I posted the game vs NM Yeung on March 21st if you want a look.
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