The Sicilian Defence is by far Black's most popular answer to 1 e4 at all levels of chess. The reason is easy to understand: from the very first move Black unbalances the position and can play for a win without needing to take unjustified risks. This is particularly the case with the Open Sicilians, where Black can take comfort in the fact that his superior pawn structure ensures control of the centre and excellent long term chances.
Faced this with type of problem, along with the fact that many Open Sicilians carry with them a massive build-up of opening theory, it's unsurprising that many White players prefer to avoid the Open Sicilian altogether, preferring one of the many 'Anti-Sicilians' lines on offer. These numerous options for White include the primitive but dangerous Grand Prix Attack, one or two wild gambits, but most of all some tedious and niggling variations such as 2 c3, the Closed and Bb5 systems, all of which are designed to stamp out any fun Black was envisaging when playing 1...c5.
These annoying lines have become the scourge of Sicilian players, but in this book Richard Palliser, a lifeline Sicilian devotee, decides it'stime for Black players to finally fight back! Drawing upon his vast experience and understanding of Anti-Sicilians, Palliser devises a compact and practical repertoire for Sicilian players against each of White'smany alternatives. Using examples from modern play, he examines tactical and positional ideas for both White and Black, and pays special attention to tricky move orders which are very much in the armoury of contemporary Grandmasters.
White's many anti-Sicilian systems have been around for a while and I'm afraid that they're here to stay. Some players inwardly sigh every time they face one, but there's no need for such a reaction. Handling the anti-Sicilians successfully as Black is not all about employing a lot of slow, solid lines; on the contrary, Black can often fight for the initiative as we will see in this book. That does not mean that every recommendation will be dynamic and exciting; just the majority! Quite often a solid secondary system has been included, either to spoil White's fun (if he's after a massive hack, switching to a calm approach is not so silly), or to help Black avoid being move ordered (e.g. the c3 Sicilian doesn't have to begin with 2 c3; 2 Nf3 e6 3 c3 being a more cunning approach).
White has a number of rather popular anti-Sicilian systems, including the fairly theoretical 2 c3 and the aggressive Grand Prix Attack. Indeed while researching this work, I kept being reminded just how many new ideas there have been in the anti-Sicilians over the past decade: some being very early surprises, such as 2 a3 and 2 Na3, others rather ambitious ones, like 2 c3 d5 3 exd5 Qxd5 4 d4 Nc6 5 Nf3 Bg4 6 dxc5!? (a line which is both fun to analyse and full of some promising novelties for Black, as we'll see in Chapter One). As such I've decided to make this work accessible to all Sicilian players by covering every single white alternative to 2 Nf3, rather than just include White's theoretically more important systems both with and without 2 Nf3. This has enabled at least two systems to be thoroughly explored against each of White's main alternatives to 2 Nf3; one of which at least I hope will appeal to the reader.
Throughout the emphasis has been on presenting 'fresh' lines where possible, although I have updated coverage from early anti-Sicilian works on a few rather promising variations. As well as trying to explain the key ideas for both sides throughout, I've supplied a fair amount of analysis and up-to-date coverage in places, as well as much discussion of that modern bane, move orders.
I've enjoyed researching and analysing the vast majority of lines in this work. Indeed I must admit to quite looking forward to my Sicilian games in which White avoids 2 Nf3! The systems covered here are often dynamic, sometimes quite unexplored and generally should be quite fun to play, if not for White to face. Above all, we are fighting against White's desired game plan, not becoming depressed and meekly submitting to a dull positional disadvantage. There's a reason why the majority of top grandmasters play 2 Nf3 and 3 d4. It's now time to teach your opponent just why that is by posing him practical and theoretical problems in his favourite anti-Sicilian system.
009 The 2 c3 Sicilian
066 Move Order Issues After 2.Nc3
084 The Closed Sicilian
127 The Grand Prix Attack
166 Other Approaches after 2.Nc3
181 Kingside Fianchettos: 2.d3 and 2.g3
189 The Queenside Fianchetto: 2.b3
252 Index of Variations