Sicilian Defence

The Sicilian Defence is a Black defence where Black plays “1..c5” against White’s “1.e4”. It is one of the most popular and well-respected openings against e4. If you play e4 in modern tournament play (except in beginner-level tournaments), you can expect to play against the Sicilian more than half of the games!

Diagram: Sicilian Defence

White Second Move Alternatives

White’s Second Move: Even at White’s second move there are numerous options in the Sicilian:

  • Nf3: This is the usual White line of the Sicilian and probably the strongest. The aim is to prepare d4 on the next move. But if you play this as White, there are numerous different variations that Black may play against you.
  • c3 (Sveshnikov Sicilian or Alapin Sicilian): This is a strong and aggressive line against the Sicilian, usually leading to tactical play.
  • Nc3 (Closed Sicilian including the Grand Prix Attack): a “slower” line against the Sicilian where White actually plays quite a strong attacking line with “f4”. White usually avoids or at least delays playing d4.
  • f4 Sicilian: a more direct attacking line than Nc3 and f4, but probably not as good for White.
  • d4 (Smith-Morra Gambit): a gambit line that is well-regarded, and Black will often choose to decline the gambit, but can also safely accept it.
  • Wing Gambit (b4): White offers a free pawn on the wing. This opening is not regarded as fully sound and White rarely plays it.
  • b3 Sicilian: White fianchettos the Queenside bishop.

Main Line Sicilians

Main Line Sicilian: The main line Sicilian is where White plays Nf3 and d4. The Black variations depend on whether Black plays 2..d6 or 2..Nc6.

Diagram: Sicilian Defence with Black’s 2..d6

Diagram: Sicilian Defence with Black’s 2..Nc6

There are numerous sub-variants of the Sicilian Defence that arise from these main Nf3 lines. Some of the main areas of theory in the Sicilian Defence depend on which of the two main lines Black chooses:

d6 Sicilian Variations

The d6 Sicilian lines include:

Nc6 Sicilian Variations

The “2..Nc6” Sicilian Lines include:

e6 Sicilian Variations

The 2..e6 Sicilian Lines include:

Uncommon Sicilian Variations for Black

Variations for Black that have a reasonable amount of theory but are still less common, and may perhaps have some surprise value include:

Unusual lines for Black with perhaps some surprise value may include:

White Anti-Sicilian Lines

Anti-Sicilian Openings played by White to avoid the bulk of the theory include:

Unusual lines against the mainstream Sicilian defences include:

  • Anti-Nadjorf h3 lines (very unusual, but was a Fischer favorite)
  • Anti-Nadjorf g4 lines
  • Maroczy Bind systems (various lines with early c4)
  • Anti-Scheveningen g4 lines (Keres Attack)

Other somewhat dubious unusual lines in the Sicilian include:

Read more about: Anti-Sicilian Variations.