FIDE CM Kingscrusher is the webmaster of Chessworld.net
Chessworld.net is a long established online chess site.

If you would like play relaxed, friendly online chess, then

or

And meet other Youtubers or perhaps even play me in a ChessWorld Simul
Support the Kingscrusher Youtube Channel: ►Support via PayPal ($)

 
Chess World Online Chess Forum - How to Play Against the Grand Prix Attack as Black

Chessworld Forum Topic


Play | Latest posts | IndexForum Name: Chess Articles
Forum goals: For chess articles of any sort - Opening articles, News articles, Puzzle articles, Video based articles, etc

How to Play Against the Grand Prix Attack as Black

Part 1

If you play the Sicilian Defense as Black and are an A-level or expert level player, you are as likely to see the Closed Sicilian as you are to get an Open Sicilian. The reason for this is not difficult to understand. Once Black plays 1…c5, he has not given away that much about his future intentions. If White continues with an Open Sicilian, Black has a choice of ten or a dozen excellent variations. White has to be ready for each and all of them. A master, once he plays 1.e4, expects to see a Sicilian Defense more than half the time, and will have typically prepared something for all ten or dozen variations Black can throw at him. The 1.e4 player at the A-player/expert level is still seeing a lot of Caro-Kann, French, and Center Counters, not to mention 1…e5, and has to be ready for those defenses in addition to the Sicilian. If he plays the Open Sicilian, he then has to be ready to meet another 10 or more sub-Sicilian systems. Even then, White’s odds in an Open Sicilian at any level are not much better than 50 percent. Is it any wonder that so many players of White at that expert level and below seek to reduce their memory burden by choosing to specialize in one of the off-lines 2.d4 (Smith-Morra), 2.c3 (Alapin), 2.Bb5, or most commonly 2.Nc3 followed by 3.f4 and 4.Nf3 (called since the 1970s the Grand Prix Attack)?

Playing the Grand Prix tends to work out well for players of White at the A-player/expert level because Black will not typically have specialized in that line to the extent White can. Black will instead have steeped himself in Sveshnikov, Dragon, Paulsen, or Najdorf theory, whatever he was intending to play against the Open Sicilian. What’s a player of the Black pieces to do? Well, I have good news for you, at least in terms of facing the Grand Prix. If Black knows what he is doing and plays methodically, this opening really sucks for White. My database indicates that at high levels White wins 32% of his games with the Grand Prix, loses 42%, and draws 26%. This is a 45-55% favorability ratio for Black! So, what do masters know that allows them to defend against the Grand Prix Attack so easily that A-players and experts don’t? That’s the question this article seeks to answer.

First, let’s take a look at what makes facing the Grand Prix so unpleasant for an unprepared player of the Black pieces. A fairly typical smash by White is the following fun (for White only) game in which he simply opens up lines and brings the pieces quickly to bear on the opened lines, followed by sac sac mate.

[[1.e4 c5 2.f4 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.Bc4 d6 6.0-0 Nf6 7.d3 0-0 8.f5 gxf5 9.Qe1 fxe4 10.dxe4 Bg4 11.Qh4 Bxf3 12.Rxf3 Ne5 13.Rh3 Ng6 14.Qg3 Qd7 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.Bxd5 e6 17.Bb3 d5 18.Qf3 c4 19.Ba4 Qxa4 20.Qh5 Rfd8 21.Qxh7+ Kf8 22.Bh6 Bxh6 23.Rxh6 Ke8 24.Rf1 Rd7 25.Qg8+ Nf8 26.Rxe6+ Kd8 27.Qxf8+ Kc7 28.Qc5+ Kd8 29.Rh6 1-0]]

Sicilian Defense (B23)
White: Julian M. Hodgson
Black: John D. Nunn
London, 1978

1.e4 c5 2.f4 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.Bc4 d6 6.0–0 Nf6 7.d3 0–0 8.f5

In what became typical style for this opening, White sacrifices a pawn in order to create weaknesses in Black’s camp. Most A-players will play in this fashion against you too.

8…gxf5 9.Qe1 fxe4 10.dxe4 Bg4

position[r2q1rk1/pp2ppbp/2np1n2/2p5/2B1P1b1/2N2N2/PPP3PP/R1B1QRK1]
This position is worth a diagram. Black has so far made perfectly normal, unobjectionable moves. His Knights are on the "best" squares, he is castled, and every minor piece is developed. What’s more, Black is a pawn up. Nevertheless, his position is already very difficult objectively. White has open lines on the Kingside and active play there. Black has a psychologically difficult position to play as well. Where are White’s weaknesses? What can Black play for? What is there for Black to do in a position like this? Young Dr. Nunn decides to just hunker down and defend until he can figure out what to do with his pawn plus.

11.Qh4 Bxf3 12.Rxf3 Ne5 13.Rh3 Ng6 14.Qg3 Qd7

Black has a cramped position, and a rule of thumb when being cramped is to seek exchanges. This makes it so the cramped side has enough space for the pieces that remain. Thus, Nunn hopes to play …Qg4 next move.

15.Nd5

Now Black’s threatened 15…Qg4 loses a Queen to 16.Nxf6+

15…Nxd5 16.Bxd5!

White keeps lines open against Black’s Kingside. The attractive looking 16.exd5 allows Black to play 16…b5 17.Be2 Qf5 with reasonable play.

16...e6 17.Bb3 d5

Black is not really trying to threaten to win material here. He is attempting to use his central pawn majority to generate counterplay. He is hoping White will play 18.exd5 exd5 19.c3 c4 20.Bc2 d4 and now Black has open lines of play and fun in the center.

position[r4rk1/pp1q1pbp/4p1n1/2pp4/4P3/1B4QR/PPP3PP/R1B3K1]
18.Qf3!!

Black’s position is so gravely weakened that White can, and indeed must, attack it right away, even at the cost of a piece! This brilliant sacrifice gives White a strategically winning position.

18…c4 19.Ba4! Qxa4 20.Qh5 Rfd8 21.Qxh7 Kf8 22.Bh6 Bxh6 23.Rxh6 Ke8??

This loses immediately. Black missed his only defense, which was 23...c3 24.Rxg6 Ke7 though even here after 25.Rf1 Qd4+ 26.Kh1 Rf8 27.exd5 Qxd5 White has an advantage in that Black’s Queen is in the center.

24.Rf1 Rd7 25.Qg8+ Nf8

If 25...Ke7 26.Rxf7+ Kd6 27.Rxd7+ Kxd7 28.Qxa8 and White wins.

26.Rxe6+ Kd8 27.Qxf8+ Kc7 28.Qc5+ Kd8 29.Rh6 1–0


If you see anything that you find offensive, please report it to the Helpdesk forum

  Play ... Latest Forum Posts > Chess Forums > Chess Articles
  How to Play Against the Grand Prix Attack as Black - Part 1

GoBoSox



 Topics started


United States
Sat Aug 4 2012 11:04PM | edited: 12:02:42 | MsgID: 15676302


Hi Dan,

This really is a great game to study especially with idea of the piece sack 19. Ba4 - which seems a common thread after most tries by Black at 17.

17. ... Qc6!? 18. Qf3 c4 19. Ba4! (19. Qh5 h6 20. Bxh6 (20. Ba4 Qxa4 21. Bxh6 Qxc2 22. Rf1 Qxb2 ) 20. ... cxb3 ) 19. ... Qxa4 again, the Queen is drawn offside! and allows White to develop a strong attack 20. Qh5 Rfe8 21. Qxh7+ Kf8 22. Bg5 (22. Bh6 Bxh6 23. Rxh6 Ne5 24. Rxe6 Rxe6 25. Qh8+ Ke7 26. Qxa8 Qb4 27. Rf1 Qxb2 28. Qxa7 Qxc2 29. Qxb7+ Nd7 30. Qa7 (30. Rxf7+ Kxf7 31. Qxd7+ Kf6 -+ )) 22. ... Qb5 23. Rg3 Qxb2 24. Rf1 Nh8 25. c3 (25. Bh6 Bxh6 26. Qxh6+ Ke7 -+ Black escapes ) 25. ... Bxc3 26. Rgf3! (26. Rxc3!? Qxc3 27. Bf6 Qxf6 28. Rxf6 Ke7 = Along with the Rook & Knight, Black has a passed pawn for the Queen ) 26. ... Bg7 27. Bh6 Qb6+ (27. ... Qd4+ 28. Kh1 d5 29. Qxh8+ +- ) 28. Kh1 Ke7 29. Bxg7 +/- despite 2 extra pawns, Black is under tremendous pressure 29. ... Kd7 30. Rc1 (30. Rc3 ) 30. ... Qc5 31. Bxh8 Rxh8 32. Rxf7+ Kc6 33. Qg7 (33. Rc7+?! Kb6 34. Rxb7+ Ka6 35. Qg7 Rag8 36. Qb2 Rf8 37. Re7 Rxh2+ = ) 33. ... Qe5 34. Rc7+ Kb5 35. Rxb7+ Ka6 36. Qxe5 dxe5 37. Re7 +/- Black will now lose a pawn & White has 2 connected pawns ;

So 17... d5 is the right idea but the method to gain control of the center is via the f-pawn... after 1.e4 c5 2.f4 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.Bc4 d6 6.O-O Nf6 7.d3 O-O 8.f5!? gxf5 9.Qe1 fxe4 10.dxe4 Bg4 11.Qh4 Bxf3 12.Rxf3 Ne5 13.Rh3 Ng6 14.Qg3 Qd7 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.Bxd5! e6 17.Bb3 then 17. ... f5! seems to be Black's only method to play for the advantage
r4rk1/pp1q2bp/3pp1n1/2p2p2/4P3/1B4QR/PPP3PP/R1B3K1 w - - 0 1


18. exf5 Rxf5 19. c3 Be5 20. Qg4 Raf8 21. Be3 Qf7 (21. ... b5!? 22. Re1 a5 (22. ... c4 23. Bc2 White's 2 Bishops cause Black serious problems 23. ... R5f6 24. Bh6 R8f7 25. Bg5 Rf2 ) 23. Bc2 R5f6 24. Bh6 R8f7 25. Rf3 ) 22. Rf3 Rxf3 23. gxf3 (23. Bxe6 Rxe3 -/+ ) 23. ... Qxf3 24. Bxe6+ Kg7 25. Qxf3 Rxf3 -/+ Black's extra pawn should make a difference in the ending - the position is now trappy for White - 26. Re1 b6 27. Kg2?? Rxe3 followed by Nf4+ & Nxe6 or 27. Bd5 Rh3 even 27 Bg5 Bf4!? Bg4 Rd3 29. Bxf4 Nxf4 30. Kf2 (30. Re7+ Kf6 31. Rxh7 Rd2 32. Bf3 Rxb2 +/- could yield Black a won position but White might have a piece sac for a pawn that could make the win impossible) 30. ... Ng6 31. Ke2 Rd5 32. Rf1 Rg5 Black only needs to trade off material to win


Originally posted by: "DanQuigley"
Part 1

If you play the Sicilian Defense as Black and are an A-level or expert level player, you are as likely to see the Closed Sicilian as you are to get an Open Sicilian. The reason for this is not difficult to understand. Once Black plays 1…c5, he has not given away that much about his future intentions. If White continues with an Open Sicilian, Black has a choice of ten or a dozen excellent variations. White has to be ready for each and all of them. A master, once he plays 1.e4, expects to see a Sicilian Defense more than half the time, and will have typically prepared something for all ten or dozen variations Black can throw at him. The 1.e4 player at the A-player/expert level is still seeing a lot of Caro-Kann, French, and Center Counters, not to mention 1…e5, and has to be ready for those defenses in addition to the Sicilian. If he plays the Open Sicilian, he then has to be ready to meet another 10 or more sub-Sicilian systems. Even then, White’s odds in an Open Sicilian at any level are not much better than 50 percent. Is it any wonder that so many players of White at that expert level and below seek to reduce their memory burden by choosing to specialize in one of the off-lines 2.d4 (Smith-Morra), 2.c3 (Alapin), 2.Bb5, or most commonly 2.Nc3 followed by 3.f4 and 4.Nf3 (called since the 1970s the Grand Prix Attack)?

Playing the Grand Prix tends to work out well for players of White at the A-player/expert level because Black will not typically have specialized in that line to the extent White can. Black will instead have steeped himself in Sveshnikov, Dragon, Paulsen, or Najdorf theory, whatever he was intending to play against the Open Sicilian. What’s a player of the Black pieces to do? Well, I have good news for you, at least in terms of facing the Grand Prix. If Black knows what he is doing and plays methodically, this opening really sucks for White. My database indicates that at high levels White wins 32% of his games with the Grand Prix, loses 42%, and draws 26%. This is a 45-55% favorability ratio for Black! So, what do masters know that allows them to defend against the Grand Prix Attack so easily that A-players and experts don’t? That’s the question this article seeks to answer.

First, let’s take a look at what makes facing the Grand Prix so unpleasant for an unprepared player of the Black pieces. A fairly typical smash by White is the following fun (for White only) game in which he simply opens up lines and brings the pieces quickly to bear on the opened lines, followed by sac sac mate.

[[1.e4 c5 2.f4 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.Bc4 d6 6.0-0 Nf6 7.d3 0-0 8.f5 gxf5 9.Qe1 fxe4 10.dxe4 Bg4 11.Qh4 Bxf3 12.Rxf3 Ne5 13.Rh3 Ng6 14.Qg3 Qd7 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.Bxd5 e6 17.Bb3 d5 18.Qf3 c4 19.Ba4 Qxa4 20.Qh5 Rfd8 21.Qxh7+ Kf8 22.Bh6 Bxh6 23.Rxh6 Ke8 24.Rf1 Rd7 25.Qg8+ Nf8 26.Rxe6+ Kd8 27.Qxf8+ Kc7 28.Qc5+ Kd8 29.Rh6 1-0]]

Sicilian Defense (B23)
White: Julian M. Hodgson
Black: John D. Nunn
London, 1978

1.e4 c5 2.f4 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.Bc4 d6 6.0–0 Nf6 7.d3 0–0 8.f5

In what became typical style for this opening, White sacrifices a pawn in order to create weaknesses in Black’s camp. Most A-players will play in this fashion against you too.

8…gxf5 9.Qe1 fxe4 10.dxe4 Bg4








Analyse position


This position is worth a diagram. Black has so far made perfectly normal, unobjectionable moves. His Knights are on the "best" squares, he is castled, and every minor piece is developed. What’s more, Black is a pawn up. Nevertheless, his position is already very difficult objectively. White has open lines on the Kingside and active play there. Black has a psychologically difficult position to play as well. Where are White’s weaknesses? What can Black play for? What is there for Black to do in a position like this? Young Dr. Nunn decides to just hunker down and defend until he can figure out what to do with his pawn plus.

11.Qh4 Bxf3 12.Rxf3 Ne5 13.Rh3 Ng6 14.Qg3 Qd7

Black has a cramped position, and a rule of thumb when being cramped is to seek exchanges. This makes it so the cramped side has enough space for the pieces that remain. Thus, Nunn hopes to play …Qg4 next move.

15.Nd5

Now Black’s threatened 15…Qg4 loses a Queen to 16.Nxf6+

15…Nxd5 16.Bxd5!

White keeps lines open against Black’s Kingside. The attractive looking 16.exd5 allows Black to play 16…b5 17.Be2 Qf5 with reasonable play.

16...e6 17.Bb3 d5

Black is not really trying to threaten to win material here. He is attempting to use his central pawn majority to generate counterplay. He is hoping White will play 18.exd5 exd5 19.c3 c4 20.Bc2 d4 and now Black has open lines of play and fun in the center.








Analyse position


18.Qf3!!

Black’s position is so gravely weakened that White can, and indeed must, attack it right away, even at the cost of a piece! This brilliant sacrifice gives White a strategically winning position.

18…c4 19.Ba4! Qxa4 20.Qh5 Rfd8 21.Qxh7 Kf8 22.Bh6 Bxh6 23.Rxh6 Ke8??

This loses immediately. Black missed his only defense, which was 23...c3 24.Rxg6 Ke7 though even here after 25.Rf1 Qd4+ 26.Kh1 Rf8 27.exd5 Qxd5 White has an advantage in that Black’s Queen is in the center.

24.Rf1 Rd7 25.Qg8+ Nf8

If 25...Ke7 26.Rxf7+ Kd6 27.Rxd7+ Kxd7 28.Qxa8 and White wins.

26.Rxe6+ Kd8 27.Qxf8+ Kc7 28.Qc5+ Kd8 29.Rh6 1–0



Playable game scores in this posting
Playable game #1






armstrong789





 Topics started


United States
Sat Dec 31 2011 5:43PM | MsgID: 15046042


Palliser's book entitled: "Fighting the Anti-Sicilians" is referred to at pages 88 through 91 of "Starting Out: Sicilian Grand Prix Attack" by Gawain Jones 2008.The point I am trying to make is when someone plays the Sicilian Defence, they may well have their hands full keeping up with the latest trends in their favorite system, the Najdorf, Sveshnikov, Dragon, Kan, etc.So why then spend so much time learning lots of theory concerning the Grand Prix Attack, when a few simple pointers and a couple of games will suffice? The only critical main line I can see is after 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 e6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb5 Nge7 6.ed5 Nd5! rather than 6...ed5? and white has nothing.



cjs150



 Topics started


England
Sat Dec 31 2011 10:32AM | MsgID: 15044640


Yes I have open mind and I can see why e6 followed by d5 should work nicely. 2...d5 however has always worked well for me and is recommended by Gallagher in his book "Beating the Anti Sicilians"

I have not seen Palliser's book - is it more recent than Gallgher's or other way around?



armstrong789





 Topics started


United States
Wed Dec 21 2011 7:22PM | MsgID: 15016381


Sveshnikov likes to play 3...e6 followed by 4...d5 and always gets excellent French Defence thematic positions.Do you have an open mind to this? It is also recommended by Palliser in "Beating the Anti-Sicilian" and does not require huge amounts of theory and memorization.



cjs150



 Topics started


England
Wed Dec 21 2011 6:30PM | MsgID: 15016237


The point here is that White plays 2 Nc3 rather than the immediate 2 f4.

2 Nc3 is a closed Sicilian and Black can respond along normal closed sicilian lines

2. f4 is met by d5



DanQuigley



 Topics started


United States
Mon Oct 31 2011 8:57PM | edited: 10:06:25 | MsgID: 14861542


Part 2

[[1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bc4 e6 6.d3 Nge7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Qe1 Nd4 9.Nxd4 cxd4 10.Ne2 d5 11.Bb3 dxe4 12.dxe4 a5 13.a4 Nc6 14.Rf3 b6 15.Bd2 Bb7 16.Rd1 Qe7 17.Ng3 Rad8 18.f5 Ne5 19.Rf1 Ba6 20.Rf2 d3 21.Bc3 dxc2 22.Bxc2 Qc5 23.b4 Nf3+ 24.gxf3 Qxc3 25.Qxc3 Bxc3 26.b5 Bb7 27.Ne2 Bb4 28.Kg2 exf5 29.exf5 Rxd1 30.Bxd1 Rd8 31.Bc2 Bc5 32.Rf1 Rd2 33.Bd1 Bd5 34.Kg3 Bc4 35.Re1 Kg7 36.fxg6 hxg6 0-1]]

[[1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bc4 e6 6.d3 Nge7 7.0–0 d5 8.Bb3 0–0 9.Qe1 Nd4 10.Nxd4 cxd4 11.Ne2 dxe4 12.dxe4 b6 13.Ng3 Ba6 14.Rf2 Nc6 15.e5 Na5 16.Ne4 Bb7 17.Nd6 Bc6 18.Bd2 Nxb3 19.axb3 f6 20.Bb4 fxe5 21.fxe5 Rxf2 22.Qxf2 Qg5 23.Re1 Rf8 24.Qd2 Qh4 25.g3 Qg4 26.Qe2 Bf3 27.Qd3 Bh6 28.Ne4 Qh3 29.Re2 Be3+ 30.Nf2 Qg2# 0–1]]

[[1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bc4 e6 6.f5 Nge7 7.fxe6 fxe6 8.0–0 d5 9.Bb5 0–0 10.Bxc6 Nxc6 11.d3 Nd4 12.Nxd4 Rxf1+ 13.Qxf1 cxd4 14.Nd1 dxe4 15.dxe4 Qc7 16.Qd3 Bd7 17.Bd2 Rc8 18.Rc1 Qc5 0–1]]

Please notice that I do not question any of Black’s moves until his 23rd, when his position was already in dire trouble. So, the logical question is, “Where did Black go wrong?” In my opinion, Black went wrong because he simply played logical developing moves against the Grand Prix without any plan as to what he wanted to do in the middlegame. By move 8, I won’t go so far as to claim Black was lost. That would be ridiculous. However, Black’s position after 8.f5 is psychologically difficult to play for Black. Therefore, I recommend Black avoid allowing White the good sacrificial opportunity to play f5. In order to do this, Black has to confront White earlier on. He ought not give White a free hand to develop however he pleases, as Black did in this game.

So, what is the best way for Black to confront White? Let’s look at the opening again: 1.e4 c5 2.f4 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.Bc4. Here, Nunn played 5…d6.








Analyse position



Given the course of the game, can you see as I do the problem with this move now? It looks perfectly reasonable. Plug in a chess playing program of your choice, and I bet 5…d6 is its first choice, or among the top. The problem with the move is that it doesn’t fight for the central light squares d5 and f5. Masters and above are playing 5…e6 instead more than five times more often.








Analyse position



5…e6 is the move that initiates the fight for the central light squares. By playing 5…e6, Black shows an intention to develop the King Knight to e7, not f6 where it blocks the g7-Bishop and is more kickable. From e7, the Knight can support a later …d5 or …f5 thrust, whichever becomes more advisable, and allows castling Kingside. Black’s play will eventually be on the Queenside, most likely, and on the e-file the King’s Knight is one file closer than it would otherwise be.

So, what is White to do after 5…e6? Time has shown that White’s best chances lie in the immediate sacrifice 6.f5. However, Black has an adequate response. Before showing that response, I need to mention that equally likely is White continuing on with normal development by playing 6.0-0. Black is winning twice as many of the games reaching this line than is White. Here is a typical game to show how Black does so. See playable game 1 below.

Sicilian Defense (B23)
White: Michael Waters
Black: Jonathan Parker
Dublin 1993

From this game, and others like it, Black’s general approach is fairly easy to see. Black develops pieces actively, applies pressure at weak points that arise in White’s position on the Queenside, seek exchanges, and White’s pawn structure (because he has to play f5 to gain attacking possibilities) becomes overextended and weak, allowing Black to transition into a superior endgame. Here’s another typical example in this type of line illustrating these principles. See playable game 2 below.

Sicilian Defense (B23)
White: Claude Zerbib
Black: Nicolas Eliet
Bethune 1999

Because White does not gain from delaying 6.f5, as I stated previously, he usually just plays it now. Black is now best advised to simply ignore the pawn offer and continue on with his development plan with 6…Nge7. Black uses his King’s Knight to fight for control of f5, which is the gateway to Black’s Kingside light squares. Failing to fight for this square with this Knight, as in the Nunn game above, simply gives White too free a hand.

White now realizes his f5 thrust to weaken White’s Kingside position has come to naught and normally exchanges the pawn off on e6. Continuing to offer it cannot weaken Black’s position in the least, e.g. 7.0-0 d5 8.exd5 (8.Bb5 exd5 =/+) 8…exd5 9.fxg6 hxg6 =/+

So, we have 7.fxe6. Now Black can take back with either pawn for a superior game, but I like the looks of playing for …d5, and I play the Blumenfeld Gambit as Black (this position resembles the Blumenfeld Gambit Accepted); therefore, I prefer taking back with the f-pawn, 7…fxe6 8.0-0 d5 9.Bb5 0-0. Again, Black has emerged with the slightly better pawn structure and the freer game. He usually seeks out exchanges, especially …Nd4, and plays to win endgames with his better pawn structure and space advantages. Here is a typical example. See playable game 3 below.

Sicilian B23
Sergei Bedarev
Igor Yagupov
RUS-Cup Tomsk, 1999

So, essential points I want to leave you with from this article is that against 1.e4, you ought to play the Sicilian Defense, 1…c5. The Wikipedia article on the Sicilian Defense makes the case for it better than I can. If your chess playing strength is less than a master’s, your chances of seeing an Open Sicilian decrease, particularly in the 1800-2200 bracket. To play the Sicilian Defense well, you must have a plan against the Grand Prix. Otherwise, you will quite likely be facing young Nunn’s fate. In this article, I have suggested a direction for your further researches based on an early …e6 and …Nge7, which confronts and seeks to counter White’s plan with a plan of your own which equally mindlessly plays itself, as you can see from the examples I provided.

Feedback (public or private) is welcome. Good chess!

Playable game scores in this posting
Playable game #1


Playable game #2


Playable game #3






DanQuigley



 Topics started


United States
Mon Oct 31 2011 8:51PM | edited: 9:49:02 | MsgID: 14861519


Part 1

If you play the Sicilian Defense as Black and are an A-level or expert level player, you are as likely to see the Closed Sicilian as you are to get an Open Sicilian. The reason for this is not difficult to understand. Once Black plays 1…c5, he has not given away that much about his future intentions. If White continues with an Open Sicilian, Black has a choice of ten or a dozen excellent variations. White has to be ready for each and all of them. A master, once he plays 1.e4, expects to see a Sicilian Defense more than half the time, and will have typically prepared something for all ten or dozen variations Black can throw at him. The 1.e4 player at the A-player/expert level is still seeing a lot of Caro-Kann, French, and Center Counters, not to mention 1…e5, and has to be ready for those defenses in addition to the Sicilian. If he plays the Open Sicilian, he then has to be ready to meet another 10 or more sub-Sicilian systems. Even then, White’s odds in an Open Sicilian at any level are not much better than 50 percent. Is it any wonder that so many players of White at that expert level and below seek to reduce their memory burden by choosing to specialize in one of the off-lines 2.d4 (Smith-Morra), 2.c3 (Alapin), 2.Bb5, or most commonly 2.Nc3 followed by 3.f4 and 4.Nf3 (called since the 1970s the Grand Prix Attack)?

Playing the Grand Prix tends to work out well for players of White at the A-player/expert level because Black will not typically have specialized in that line to the extent White can. Black will instead have steeped himself in Sveshnikov, Dragon, Paulsen, or Najdorf theory, whatever he was intending to play against the Open Sicilian. What’s a player of the Black pieces to do? Well, I have good news for you, at least in terms of facing the Grand Prix. If Black knows what he is doing and plays methodically, this opening really sucks for White. My database indicates that at high levels White wins 32% of his games with the Grand Prix, loses 42%, and draws 26%. This is a 45-55% favorability ratio for Black! So, what do masters know that allows them to defend against the Grand Prix Attack so easily that A-players and experts don’t? That’s the question this article seeks to answer.

First, let’s take a look at what makes facing the Grand Prix so unpleasant for an unprepared player of the Black pieces. A fairly typical smash by White is the following fun (for White only) game in which he simply opens up lines and brings the pieces quickly to bear on the opened lines, followed by sac sac mate.

[[1.e4 c5 2.f4 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.Bc4 d6 6.0-0 Nf6 7.d3 0-0 8.f5 gxf5 9.Qe1 fxe4 10.dxe4 Bg4 11.Qh4 Bxf3 12.Rxf3 Ne5 13.Rh3 Ng6 14.Qg3 Qd7 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.Bxd5 e6 17.Bb3 d5 18.Qf3 c4 19.Ba4 Qxa4 20.Qh5 Rfd8 21.Qxh7+ Kf8 22.Bh6 Bxh6 23.Rxh6 Ke8 24.Rf1 Rd7 25.Qg8+ Nf8 26.Rxe6+ Kd8 27.Qxf8+ Kc7 28.Qc5+ Kd8 29.Rh6 1-0]]

Sicilian Defense (B23)
White: Julian M. Hodgson
Black: John D. Nunn
London, 1978

1.e4 c5 2.f4 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.Bc4 d6 6.0–0 Nf6 7.d3 0–0 8.f5

In what became typical style for this opening, White sacrifices a pawn in order to create weaknesses in Black’s camp. Most A-players will play in this fashion against you too.

8…gxf5 9.Qe1 fxe4 10.dxe4 Bg4








Analyse position


This position is worth a diagram. Black has so far made perfectly normal, unobjectionable moves. His Knights are on the "best" squares, he is castled, and every minor piece is developed. What’s more, Black is a pawn up. Nevertheless, his position is already very difficult objectively. White has open lines on the Kingside and active play there. Black has a psychologically difficult position to play as well. Where are White’s weaknesses? What can Black play for? What is there for Black to do in a position like this? Young Dr. Nunn decides to just hunker down and defend until he can figure out what to do with his pawn plus.

11.Qh4 Bxf3 12.Rxf3 Ne5 13.Rh3 Ng6 14.Qg3 Qd7

Black has a cramped position, and a rule of thumb when being cramped is to seek exchanges. This makes it so the cramped side has enough space for the pieces that remain. Thus, Nunn hopes to play …Qg4 next move.

15.Nd5

Now Black’s threatened 15…Qg4 loses a Queen to 16.Nxf6+

15…Nxd5 16.Bxd5!

White keeps lines open against Black’s Kingside. The attractive looking 16.exd5 allows Black to play 16…b5 17.Be2 Qf5 with reasonable play.

16...e6 17.Bb3 d5

Black is not really trying to threaten to win material here. He is attempting to use his central pawn majority to generate counterplay. He is hoping White will play 18.exd5 exd5 19.c3 c4 20.Bc2 d4 and now Black has open lines of play and fun in the center.








Analyse position


18.Qf3!!

Black’s position is so gravely weakened that White can, and indeed must, attack it right away, even at the cost of a piece! This brilliant sacrifice gives White a strategically winning position.

18…c4 19.Ba4! Qxa4 20.Qh5 Rfd8 21.Qxh7 Kf8 22.Bh6 Bxh6 23.Rxh6 Ke8??

This loses immediately. Black missed his only defense, which was 23...c3 24.Rxg6 Ke7 though even here after 25.Rf1 Qd4+ 26.Kh1 Rf8 27.exd5 Qxd5 White has an advantage in that Black’s Queen is in the center.

24.Rf1 Rd7 25.Qg8+ Nf8

If 25...Ke7 26.Rxf7+ Kd6 27.Rxd7+ Kxd7 28.Qxa8 and White wins.

26.Rxe6+ Kd8 27.Qxf8+ Kc7 28.Qc5+ Kd8 29.Rh6 1–0

Playable game scores in this posting
Playable game #1