Sicilian Alapin Surprise

“Black has only two good replies (to 2. c3) – 2… d5 and 2… Nf6”
Evgeny Sveshnikov

White chooses Sicilian Alapin to surprise Black and render its theoretical preparation useless; instead of a well prepared Dragon, Najdorf, Sveshnikov or other preferred variation, the options are drastically reduced as any good book on it will tell you. A lot of times Black is not prepared for it and this gives White a psychological advantage at move 2. The good news is Black can also do something about it and the reduced number of choices helps. In my experience as a Sicilian player, one must have a variation ready to face the Alapin.

GM Johan Salomon is another very promising young player from Norway, the land of our current World Champion. Johan is very active on social media and regularly shares with his followers interesting puzzles and games of his own or by others. I find his choices very interesting and useful, like the following game I selected to share with you. IMO all Sicilian loving players should look at it and consider it as the starting point to explore the variation and ideas behind it. Without further ado here is the game:

White chose to avoid the heavily analyzed standard Sicilian variations with 2. c3 … and Black returned the favour with 5… Bf5; add into the mix an unexpected yet very playable queen sac and Black may have a nice surprise weapon to go along with the main preparation. Hey, one thing is for sure: if you manage to unleash the queen sac, your opposition does not read my column and you have a leg up on them. Please send over your games and get even better prepared in this variation to the point where white would avoid playing the Sicilian Alapin against you!

Valer Eugen Demian


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