5 Reasons to Play Sicilian Defense for Black

Article by GM Gabuzyan Hovhannes

Hi, excited reader of this article! You may think: why excited?

Haha! Cuz we are just about to discover 5 reasons why to play Sicilian Defense for Black!


1. It’s entertaining
Nowadays almost in all the openings, Black has good chances to equalize, but whenever you play Sicilian, even in equal positions, there are so many interesting options. You are not going to get bored fighting for a draw in a pawn down endgame.
Sicilian is the best opening for players who love fighting and enjoy playing interesting games.

In the picture below you see a very complicated position which occurs in Najdorf's 5.h3 line. 



Black sacrificed an exchange to get a strong attack in the queenside. Not often with Black pieces, you can get such an aggressive position right? This is Sicilian!  


2. It’s Aggressive

Sicilian Defense is definitely one of the most aggressive openings for Black. Even in positions where you try to defend, you need to look for active defense.

For example, if the opponent tries to attack your King, most of the time the best defense is to attack him even faster.

The position below is from the Sicilian Defense Dragon variation where White tries to use the “h” line for the attack, and Black’s counterplay here is the attack on White’s King.



3. There is always a chance to win

This is a logical continuation of the 2nd reason.
As you play aggressive lines you always get a chance to outplay your opponent.


Many Grandmasters choose Sicilian Defense in the games where they need to win. Of course, there might be some safe variations for White, but most of the cases when White goes for a principal theoretical line, Black always has a chance to make things complicated and get advantage.


4. You have a very big choice of variations

This is an extra advantage Sicilian has. 

Just take a look at the position after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3



Black can play 2... d6, 2...e6, 2... Nc6, 2...g6. All of them lead to completely different types of positions. And that's only the beginning.

After each move White makes, Black has a very big choice of variations. For example, after d6 Black can go for Najdorf, Dragon, or Rauzer systems.

After 2...Nc6 3.d4 cd 4.Nd4 you can play 4...g6 going to Accelerated Dragon variation or to go 4...e5 going to Sveshnikov line.

5. All super-strong Grandmasters have it as one of the main weapons

This proves the statement ‘Why to play Sicilian’.

On my way of becoming a Grandmaster, I’ve learned a very useful trick of how to choose openings. My first and main indicator is whether or not 2700 ELO or above level GMs play that opening.
And as you see Sicilian was the main weapon of the World Champion Magnus Carlsen in his previous match against Caruana Fabiano.

To sum up, if you want to make your play interesting, with a lot of attacks, sacrifices and beautiful combinations then you need to learn Sicilian!
In addition to that, when you play Sicilian Defense, you have a great chance to create an immortal game and stay in chess history forever!


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Article by GM Gabuzyan Hovhannes