Chess openings – c3 Sicilian

Chess openings – c3 Sicilian


Hi, and welcome to chessopenings.com. Today
we are going to take a look at some very interesting ideas in the Sicilian,
particularly an aggressive sideline for white that gives him opportunities
to take black out of theory and set up an unclear position. Let’s take
a look. The Sicilian defense begins with the moves:
pawn to E4, pawn to C5. With this little pawn to C5 move, black is anticipating
white’s attempts to play for D2 to D4. Now, black’s idea here is very
clever. He knows that, in order for white to give his pieces full scope,
he will definitely want to play D2 to D4 at some point. But at that moment,
black is prepared to capture with a flank pawn as opposed to a
central pawn. Now, why is that so important? Why is it so important that black
is ready to capture with a flank pawn? Because black would then end up
with two central pawns to white’s one. This is really useful if, eventually,
black decides to attack the center or simply restrain white’s pieces
from occupying the central squares. We will get a chance to see plenty of that
in other videos where white plays his most popular ideas. But today I
want to take a look at a really interesting alternative to the main lines,
known as the C3 Sicilian, which begins, fittingly enough, with the move pawn
to C3. Now with this little move, white is going to foil black’s intentions
of gaining a central majority. That’s because, by preparing D2
to D4 in this way, white guarantees that he will be able to be captured
with a pawn after black captures on D4. That way he will still have
two center pawns. This is a very ambitious strategy by white and also
has the advantage of avoiding a lot of theory. But let’s see if we can identify
any drawbacks to this move. Opening principles say that, in general, we
should try to avoid making too many pawn moves in the opening. Instead, we
should try to get our pieces out as quickly as possible. White’s move,
C2 to C3, doesn’t develop a piece, and just as importantly, it temporarily
deprives the knight on B1 of its most natural square. In a way then, the
move C3 is a little bit slow, and this allows black to play actively, and
to try to irritate white with some rapid play. So, one popular and rather
strong response to the C3 Sicilian is for black to play pawn to D5.
Now, notice that after the necessary moves, pawn takes pawn and queen
takes pawn, black is already taking advantage of the knight’s inability
to reach the C3 square and disturb the queen with a gain of time. So
white often plays pawn to D4 here, and this leads to a really interesting
strategic situation. White has achieved a space advantage, but has not really
succeeded at gaining the sort of ideal pawn center he had hoped for.
Instead, black can at any time, give white a weak pawn on D4 by playing pawn
takes pawn. Often, black delays this for just a moment, but for learning
purposes let’s see how this works right away. So I am going to show right now; pawn takes
pawn and pawn takes pawn. Now, what we have right here is what is known as
an isolated queen’s pawn position. I know that sounds fancy, but that
is just a very complicated way of saying that the D4 pawn is isolated. There
is no pawn to the right or left. There is no C pawn and there is no E
pawn for white. This means that he has no way of defending the D4 pawn with
a pawn. This makes the pawn isolated and it also creates a weak square
on D5. Black will try to use both of these factors. He will try to prove
that the D4 pawn is weak and he will also use the D5 square as an outpost.
So these are two little bonuses for black in this position. But before we count white out, we better realize
that there are some really great things going on for white here too.
Notice that his pieces all have a ton of scope. Let me clean up the board for
just a moment here. Let’s take a look. Both of white’s bishops have great
scope here. White did just get the C3 square back for his knight and he is
going to get that square with a gain of time. There is also an outpost for
his pieces on C5. There is an outpost on E5, and he has open files on the
C file and on the E file. So, as it turns out, the isolated queen’s pawn
situation gives white great attacking chances, but it also yields black
great chances, since he may consolidate his position and then prove that
the D4 pawn is weak. So now, backing up a little before pawn takes
pawn, black normally delays capturing for a while on D4 because there
is no hurry and there is no reason to give white the square on C3 for
his knight until it is necessary to do so. So, black normally continues by
developing one of his knights. So in this case, we are going to take a look
at the popular book line, knight of 6. White often continues his own development,
with knight of 3. One of the most common lines is bishop G4, bishop
E2, pawn to E6, white castle is on to the king’s side, knight to E6, and bishop
E3. Now, at this moment white finally has a real threat to capture
on C5. If white captures on C5 there is no way black is going to recover
that pawn. So it is time for black to finally give white the lead with
pawn takes pawn, pawn takes pawn, bishop E7, white gets this square for his
knight, with temple, and now queen to D6. If you take a look at this position, both
sides have a lot of reasons to be happy. White has completed his development
very naturally, and he’s even gained a little tide at the expense of blacks
queen. He has some open files, and he has wide chances for active
play here. However, the beautiful thing in chess is that unless we’ve made a
serious mistake, we almost always have some serious traps of our own,
if only we can manage to neutralize our opponents trumps. So it is
here, if I’m playing black I know that if I play very carefully, white may fail
to get much out of his slight advantage in space and development. Once that happens we’ll not only have an equal
gain, but I’ll be much better. That’s because the D4 pawn will prove
to be a weakness as the game wears on. So, the move pawn to D5 leads to
interesting play for both sides. Both sides find comfortable squares for their
pieces, and the game becomes very interesting and complex leading to an
isolated queens pawn situation. It’s not clear who’s better in this situation
and white’s not exactly pushing black around. However, he does avoid
a lot of theory and he gets a very complex gain for both sides. The other popular idea for black that I would
like to show you is quite a bit different, and it begins with the move
knight to F6. With this move, black takes a different tact, he’s still dead-set
on exploiting the unusual features of whites move C2 to C3, after the
inevitable pawn to E5, knight to D5. The presence of blacks knight in the
center is actually a serious annoyance for white. Now, there’s two reasons
for this. Usually, the knight can’t live here long, but because of the obvious
move C2 to C4; but here there are two major drawbacks to kicking this
knight out. One is that white has already consumed a temple, bringing the
pawn to C3. Another is that there’s a pawn on C5 here,
which is making it pretty unattractive. Let’s say that white does play
C4. It’s kind of unattractive here that it’s going to be difficult for white
to play D4, so his pawns are kind of split up, and the C5 pawn does a beautiful
job of keeping whites structure under check, here. For these reasons,
white doesn’t have such an easy time ejecting/ the knight on D5, and
this is one way that he’s taking advantage of the C2 to C3 move. Now, white has advanced pawn on E5, and this
gives him a definite space advantage. But, if you’ve been watching some
of these videos, you’ll know by now that while it’s critical to advance
our pawns to cramp the opponent, win territory, and eventually threaten to
make queens, pawn advances always come at a cost. One such cost is that the
pawns themselves may turn out to be vulnerable to direct attack and sometimes
that proves to be the case here, too. Black is going to try and break
this pawn down with D7 to D6, and he’s going to try to exchange this pawn
off and leave white vulnerable and have wasted time, as well. So, still, white has space and blacks position
is a little unstable, so white has some exciting options here too.
Let’s take a look at the typical moves. Pawn to D4, pawn takes pawn. Now, since
this pawn is currently pinned, white doesn’t actually recapture just
yet, he plays knight to F3; and now knight to C6. Now, white has two major
ideas. White has got to be realistic and ask himself some tough questions
here. He’s got to say to himself, “I can’t successfully maintain the
pawns in the center. Black is definitely going to succeed in exchanging
my central pawns sooner or later, using the break D7 to D6. So, how can I aim
for an advantage? Well, the answer it turns out, is that white
can aim to develop his pieces quickly and aggressively, taking advantage
of the D5 knights unsupported placement in the meantime. Over the years,
white players in this position have come up with two major ways of going
about this. One interesting way is to play the position as a gambit, sacrificing
a pawn with the moves bishop C4, knight B6, bishop B3. So, in this
variation, in this [inaudible 10:54] for a long time white is going to allow
black the option of taking on C3, but he reasons that this will give
him even more scope for his pieces and a huge lead in development, plus,
he’ll still have this cramping pawn on E5. In fact, black rarely captures
chest yet, but instead he continues his development with the outstanding
move pawn to D5. In order for white to get an advantage he
definitely has to remove this pawn, because black’s just getting too much
share of the center if he’s allowed to keep that pawn. So, white captures,
using the en passant rule, pawn takes pawn, queen takes pawn, and now
white castles; again giving black an option to capture on C3, but again
black typically ignores this and continues his development with the outstanding
move bishop to E6. Black’s getting closer and closer to developing
his position meaningfully, but still has done nothing about the development
of his kings side pieces, and he’s not exactly castled either. So, white normally still gets interesting
play here, using such moves as knight to A3, which aims to bring this knight
to one of these key squares. Now, black finally does in fact capture on
C3. White avoids the trade of queens with the move queen to E2, and now
black often plays bishop takes bishop, in this crazy, aggressive move knight
B5; which not only attacks the queen, but which is also trying to bring
that knight into the C7 square. So black has to back the queen way
up to B8 here, and white recaptures the bishop. This is a very interesting position. At the
moment, black is ahead not one but two pawns, but his pieces are making a
very unfavorable impression here. The position is highly unclear, and
this is just the sort of dynamic, interesting position white was hoping for
when he played the C3 Sicilian. However, black, if he’s prepared shouldn’t
have to be too worried about this position. As aspiring players we can
help ourselves a lot by having positions like these in our repertoire and
working at them persistently, sometimes with both sides to improve our game. So, I’m going to leave that position there,
which is really interesting, and we’re going to go back to this moment
where I said that white had two options. Right after this move knight to C6,
white has other ways to reach an imbalanced game, without gambiting a pawn,
they begin with the book move pawn takes pawn, and now pawn to D6. Now, white threatens to reduce whites special
advantage significantly. To avoid giving black a dream position, white
intends to defend his center using the clever pin bishop to B5. In this
way, he reduces the attackers on E5, since the knight can’t participate in
the control of E5. However, if white were to play this move right away, he
would get stung by an ugly move here. Can you see the tactic? It’s queen to A5 check, which attacks both
the king and the bishop. This is a really unpleasant situation for white here,
he would probably lose material with the move knight to C3, and now
knight takes C3 and this is just a bad situation for poor white. He can
probably minimize his losses with bishop takes knight, check, takes and
takes and takes. But, he’s just dropping material here, and this position
has no track record whatsoever, so. White can’t just go ahead and play this
move bishop E5 yet, however, he has another little intermediate move he can
play first; which is very clever. First, he attacks on C4, and only after blacks
standard reaction knight B6, does white now pin the knight on C6. So, after
pawn takes pawn, white now recaptures the knight, and we’ve seen this
isolated queens pawn position before. White has scope for his pieces, and
he’s got a little annoying threat on C6 at the moment. So, after the
move bishop to D7, we have another unbalanced position. Clearly, black
is threatening knight takes E5 right now, which would win a piece. So, white
has to make a capture here. One example of how we can go about this is
for example, knight takes bishop, queen takes knight, knight E3, E6
and castles. The position is unclear, white has the standard pawn weakness
on D4, but, he does maintain the space advantage and he does have the bishop
here. So, plenty of interesting chess going on here. Those are
the positions I wanted to show today. We’ve accomplished a number of things,
we’ve taken a look at a particularly aggressive system for white against
the Sicilian, in which white aims to avoid allowing black one of
his pet systems and one of his pet ideas of achieving a central pawn majority.
With the move C3, we’ve found that white does get some very unbalanced
positions, sometimes around the isolated queens pawn, or sometimes around
gambiting a pawn. In all of these cases black is okay, but the
position is unclear, and whoever turns out to be more prepared has
a great chance of winning. So, there’s a lot of great material, and I recommend
taking a look at these positions from both sides and see if maybe
you’re wanting to try them out sometime. That’s it for today, and I look
forward to seeing you again.

100 thoughts on “Chess openings – c3 Sicilian

  1. (1/2) Interesting question. You're right about blocking the pawn and the queen's vulnerability on e6, yet 9…Be6 looks like the best move when compared to the alternatives (in the database) 9…Bf5 and 9…e6. After both 9…Bf5 10.Nxd4! Nxd4 11.cxd4 e6 12.Nc3 Be7 13.Qf3! generally flowed by a rapid d4-d5 and 9…e6 (blocking the light-squared bishop) 10.cxd4 Be7 11.Nc3 O-O 12.Ne4 or 12.a3, White does quite well though such positions are tricky.

  2. So this is how to tackle this of opening in the Sicilian. Thank you for clearing it up for us and keep up the good work!

  3. It is an interesting idea! But rare. In particular by moving both the c- and e- pawns early like this, Black has to be careful of the weakened light-squares and the hole on d5. In those games where 2…e5!?/?! was tried White generally continued 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.Bc4. The position is slightly better for White as he often has Ng5 hanging in the air or can rely on more positional play with a plan like O-O, d3, Nbd2, Re1, Nf1-e3. It still seems quite interesting though!

  4. At 14:37 can white not play Qd2 pinning the black knight to the queen and capture it next turn without losing a pawn?

  5. Really good videos. With watching uncommented games or sth. you just get the lines, not the plans. Your videos help me, thank you very much! 🙂

  6. Instructive sicilian… Very interesting line. Also, the slip of the tongue ("feces" instead of "pieces"at 12 :48 made me laugh.
    nice video as usual!

  7. I just discovered your videos and I really like them a lot. They are great summaries of opening themes, pitched at a very consistent and appropriate level for someone studying chess openings. I used to wonder why White is so eager to play d4 in the Sicilian, giving up a central pawn for a flank pawn, and now I understand much better. Thank you very much.

  8. I enjoy watching your videos! Wish I could meet you, having you tutor me because I am really wanna be really good at chess.  Still at 1,000 according to facebook chess, not bad.  🙁  
    By the way, I love your chess set.  Where can I get it?  Thanks in advance.  

  9. Thanks so much Dereque! 😀 These videos are a blessing. Btw, I had to laugh when, at around 8:30, the subtitles say "white has already consumed a temple"

  10. Another great video.  Thanks for sharing all this knowledge, Dereque.  You are the first person I go to for instruction on an opening and I know I'm not the only one!

  11. just flattering you again.!  Today when i woke up i played on chess free level 9 which equates to about 1700 elo., in professional mode, so no take backs of any kind. 27 moves later the computer resigned. There is no way i could have done that a year ago, and this journey i took was guided very much by your videos. You have a natural talent , dont let it go to waste. Ooo and teach me more hehe.

  12. Your videos are very well made, you explaing things clearly and your videos are direct to the point and very informative and detailed, so thanks and keep it up !

  13. Dereque, please explain me the problem of central majority. I'm struggling to find an answer but i cant find it. I don't understand where is the power of 2-1 central majority. flank pawns can also attack central squares. also, you aren't talking about any possibilities of white getting 2 to 1 central majority in queen's gambit declined where white can capture the black's D pawn with white's C pawn. Same goes for grunfeld. Guess for some reason, in those 2 openings that doesn't take place in anything. Explain

  14. Can you make a video on how to attack against an "opening" where black places his pawns as a3 b4 c3 d4 e3 f4 g3 h4? I know this isn't a real opening, but I can't find many flaws.

  15. just to sacrifice and make the king out of step! 15:01 the Bishop takes f7 check!, king x f7, then pd4 to d5 check, knight takes d5, Knight g5 check, k to d7, Q takes d5.

  16. Im getting back into chess again and this is definitely the go to site.No boring preamble and cuts to the chase.Well presented by a cheery soul who knows his stuff!!

  17. Dereque! Do you know some games about 3:34' s variation? This is a playable game for white? For black? What do you think about 5. …- e7-e5 move in this setup? Thats all! 🙂 Wait your answer if you have a lot of time, István.

  18. at 6:04, is it possible to retake the d4 pawn with the knight and avoid the isolated pawn?

    Nxd4 Bxe2 Nxe2 or

    Nxd4 Nxd4 Bxd4 Bf5

  19. Excuse the newbie question… but when you're saying the Sicilian starts with white does this, black does that…. how can you control what your opponent decides to do though?? Is "the Sicilian" just something you have to wait for the perfect opportunity to open up to use?

  20. thank you great explanation , here is game i win as black
    [Event ""]
    [Site ""]
    [Date "2017.5.21"]
    [Round ""]
    [White "guyh"]
    [Black "michael"]
    [TimeControl "-"]
    [Result "0-1"]
    [ECO " "]

    1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.cxd4 d5 5.e5 Qb6 6.Be3 Qxb2 7.Nd2 Bf5 8.Rb1 Bxb1 0-1

  21. GM Finegold did a video on chess.com showing two games where he plays Nf3 on move two before playing c3.  Then after black plays d6 and Nf6 attacking e4 white just plays Be2 hoping black captures the enprise pawn on e4.  When white plays Qa4 check winning the pawn.  Whatdo you say about making a video in this line?  Love your videos Dereque!

  22. I was hoping all shift that when I got home there'd be a Dereque Kelley video on the Sicillian w/ c3. An excellent night cap with a mug of hot chocolate . . . thanks!

  23. I watched this video a few months ago and thought it was good. Recently, I nearly got crushed as black against this 2.c3 variation of the Sicilian and spent 25+ moves defending until finally I got some relief and won the game. Now, I see this video again and I'm baffled at how deep the theory goes and how I could have better prepared for 2.c3. Thanks again for an awesome instructional chess video!

  24. I can't wait to play this line against an opponent who doesn't know it so well lol… especially after the queen's pawn situation

  25. You explain like a true strategist. Most other Chess videos will do well in bringing up the typical moves and responses, and show a few moves into each line to see what happens, but they fail to explain the big picture strategy behind them. That is why I love your videos, they help me to understand the purpose behind the openings and main lines, so if an opponent responds differently than expected, I'm still able to keep the main objective in mind and intuitively play along. This I think is far more effective and fun than simply memorizing each and every possible move without even knowing why those moves are played.

  26. As other commenters before me have stated; Dereque Kelley has produced an outstanding, highly informative, very accessible presentation. Mr. Kelley's command of the English language and his diction is impeccable. Those chess videos produced by presenters with a heavy Slavic or Bronx intonation should try harder to at least approach Mr. Kelley's polished standards.

  27. Great videos. It's unfortunate but I find that people rarely play as elegantly as you . Most of my opponents are often very aggressive.

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