However, it stands to reason that the most famous defense to 1.e4 will also be one of the most heavily analyzed of all chess openings.
The fact that the Sicilian Defense is such a good chess opening means White has tried many different ways to play against it, which adds to the opening theory.
Should a club player set aside this opening because he doesn’t have the time to deal with a large amount of theory the Najdorf has acquired? The Sicilian Dragon is famous, but the lines are very forcing and sharp?
Fortunately, there is a safe middle ground for club and intermediate players in the Classical Sicilian Defense.
The best thing about the Classical Sicilian Defense in chess is that reducing theory and stress doesn’t reduce your winning chances!
A move favored by former World Champion Anatoly Karpov is 6.Be2. Against this move, Black is advised to enter the Boleslavsky Variation with 6…e5!
Here is a video from GM Bryan Smith‘s excellent course on beating 1.e4 with the Classical Sicilian, showing the main ideas and plans for both sides in the Boleslavsky variation.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Table of contents
The Ideas Behind 6…e5 in the Classical Sicilian Defense in Chess
There are two ways to play the opening moves of the Classical Sicilian Defense in chess. The starting position can be reached with 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Be2 e5 or 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 d6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Be2 e5.
The move 6…e5 deprives White of free play in the center and on the kingside. Black will often play Nh7 to free the f-pawn when he will soon have pawns on e5 and f5.
If White plays exf5, then there is no pawn on e4 to support a piece on the d5-square, a square Black weakened by playing the …e5 advance.
The weakness on d5 is not easily exploited by White without giving up other concessions like the bishop pair or granting Black active piece play on the kingside.
After White plays Bxf6, the Black dark-squared bishop can become a strong piece on g5!
This is often where the bishop finds itself when White meets 6…e5 with 7.Nb3 instead of 7.Nf3.
White Plays 7.Nb3 in the Classical Sicilian Defense
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 d6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3
Black’s moves are easy to remember because they are natural developing moves, and it is not difficult to find the best squares. After the knights have been developed, it is time to develop the bishops.
…Be7 to allow castling is very logical, as is …Bd6 to defend the d5-square, and with a White knight on b3 advancing the a-pawn is an excellent way to gain space on the queenside. Black wants to castle early because king safety is a very sensible policy in any phase of a chess game, especially in a fighting opening like the Sicilian Defense.
Play can continue 7…Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Be3 a5 10.a4 Nb4
The knight on b4 is a very active piece that keeps the White queen tied down to the defense of the c2-pawn. Always remember if you have a bishop on e6 and White plays f4 look to play …Nxc2 and follow-up with …Qb6+ regaining the piece by capturing the b3 knight.
After 10…Nb4 White’s most common response is 11.f4. Andras Magyar managed to get two rooks for his queen in this back-and-forth game against Jan Kubala and emerged victorious from the complications.
Kubala, Jan (2238) – Magyar, Andras (2245), 2021.07.29, 0-1
White Plays 7.Nf3 in the Classical Sicilian Defense
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 d6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nf3
When the knight retreats to f3, Black must remember it defends a bishop on g5 and prevents any tactics involving …Be7 and …Nxe4.
Play is likely to continue with 8.0-0 Be7 9.Re1 0-0 10.h3 Be6 11.Bf1 Qd7 12.Nd5 Bd8 13.c4
Black’s plan is to play 13…Nh7, and 14…Ng5, where a double-capture by White will leave Black with a good knight versus bad bishop.
The following two games are exciting because, in both of them, Black won with connected passed pawns in the a-file and b-file.
Iuldachev, Saidali – Gelashvili, Tamaz, Baku op-A, 2005, 0-1
Iuldachev, Saidali – Gupta, Abhijeet, Kuala Lumpur op 7th, 2010, 0-1
The fighting Boleslavsky variation is a sound approach by Black to challenge White’s standard central and kingside play. The Classical Sicilian Defense in chess is an excellent choice for Black because you get active pieces and can play on both sides of the board.
Although 6.Be2 is not the most popular line nowadays; it is still played by many club players seeking a reduced opening theory workload. The good thing for Black is the standard development against both Nb3 and Nf3 reduces your opening workload.
The positions for Black are sound while offering excellent counter-attacking chances and tactical opportunities to win material.
The Classical Sicilian Defense in chess is an opening you can continue to play as you get better and meet stronger opponents. Start playing it now, and when you are playing better players, your familiarity with the strategies, piece development, and tactics will give you a winning edge!