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.

I've played the c3-sicilian for many years, generally with good results. Here is my most high profile win with it.

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).
Sure black can equalize in almost all openings. However, I don't think it's difficult to equalize. Many of the moves are natural moves for black.

With the Grand Prix, some natural moves will get Black into trouble.
You obviously have a lot of natural talent for the game. I see that you have finished at the top for your last 3 (at least) standard time control tournaments which include a win over NM Yeung. I noticed that you didn't play OTB rated for almost all of 2004. Was this a period of study for you?
Some openings are certainly "trappier" than others. My view is that some openings lead to middlegames and endgames which you as a player are more comfortable with; others to positions which are less comfortable. My guess is that the c3 sicilian fits better into the 1st category for me, while the Grand Prix is a better fit for you. Certainly neither is highly topical at the GM level today (unless you are playing Sveshnikov -- the player, not the opening -- or Rozentalis).
I used to play the 2. c3 and have Rozentalis' book on it. However, I've recently been playing the Smith-Morra with mostly better success.
Is there a book that you can recommand for the Grand Prix attack?
celtic death - I was playing in Scotland in 2004, that's why I didn't have any US rated games.

I posted the game vs NM Yeung on March 21st if you want a look.
temposchulker- I learned the grand prix watching Roman's Lab DVD video. There are two, Volume 4 (I think) and then the newer Volume 23.
This is not a related comment. I am posting the same here as I don't have your email id. 11th Dec 2005

This may be of interest to you. Did you know that virtual shares of your blog site are being traded at

No? Well go to the site and search for your blog in the URL box provided.

You can register on the site and claim your blog.

I am enjoying BlogShares!
Put be down for one round lot of and I'd like to short 350 shares of United Airlines. :p
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?