C3 Sicilian: Anti-Sicilian for the Improving Player

I’m pleased to see that Gambit released several of their “Chess Explained” books this week for the Amazon Kindle. One of them is IM Sam Collins’ book, Chess Explained: The c3 Sicilian.

The c3 Sicilian is a good choice for improving chess players. There’s a lot less theory than playing the Open Sicilians, such as the Najdorf or the Dragon.

If you read about the c3 Sicilian on forums or ask at the local chess club, you’ll likely hear some players comment that white doesn’t get an advantage with the c3 Sicilian. Well, at the level of the chess improver, such theoretical judgments have no practical importance. If both white and black play correctly, the Open Sicilians don’t promise white an advantage, and we improvers don’t play perfectly. Another comment you’ll likely read is that the c3 is boring. OK, it’s not generally a sharp opening. That’s a virtue for us chess improvers, however. Sharp openings require lots of memorization. The c3 Sicilian doesn’t take nearly as long to learn as the Open Sicilians. As with any opening, you need to learn some basics, but from the beginning you can focus on plans and ideas rather.

I find that the c3 Sicilian is a good repertoire choice for white because many of the positions take on important and familiar pawn formations, such as the d4-e5 pawn duo common in the French Defense, isolated queen’s pawn, etc.

Here’s a rapid game I played tonight online against a B class player. I missed an important opportunity on move 10 to win a piece. As I said, we improvers don’t play perfectly. So, don’t forego an opening like the c3 Sicilian just because you hear that white doesn’t get an advantage from the opening. We improvers need to work harder on avoiding disadvantages through blunders and weak moves, rather than expecting a big advantage from our choice of opening.

Glenn Mitchell