Main
Date: 04 Jan 2009 09:15:25
From: Alex
Subject: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
How come some GMs don't play the sicilian defense regularly? is that
okay?
like Michael Adams, Nigel Short, Vladamir Kramnik, Karpov.

Is there a reason why they don't play the sicilian defense? I thought
the sicilian defense was supposed to be a really good opening and it
is played by everyone. what kind of player do you have to be in
order to play the sicilian effectively?




 
Date: 05 Jan 2009 15:14:32
From: Alessandro J.
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?

> > Being wrong or getting things mixed up doesn't make you a bad person,
> > you know ?
>
> That's a good start. Did you think Black goes elsewhere in the
> Pelikan?

Don't let this get silly Phil : you made a comment about the Sicilian
Defense in general, and didn't even mention the Pelikan, in your
original post.


> You are allowing White to choose the direction of the game, and
> fearing the result as soon as move 6? Play a different variation that
> you understand. Its not the fault of the opening if the player doesn't
> understand the position - and the position is complex!

That wasn't the point. The point was that the amount of theory a Black
player must memorize, both in the anti-sicilian lines and the main
line Open sicilians ( though some variations offer less alternatives
than others ) plus the numerous little side-lines mean that as Black,
If my opponent confidently dashes on the board the first 6 moves of
the main line open sicilian I'm going to wonder wether he doesn't
indeed know as much, if not more, than I do, in that particular
variation i've just allowed even If I play this line all the time.

> > Strategic maybe, unsharp, I don't know, though we might differ in our
> > opinion of what " sharp " actually means, and in that case it's
> > usually White calling the shots with a Closed or Alapin variation, or
> > such like.
>
> Those are anti-Sicilian measures,

Which Black must be prepared for, every single one of those damn
buggers. That's less time you've got for the Bg5 line in the Richter-
Rauser, or even your favorite ... d5 in the Yugoslav attack or
Poisoned Pawn Najdorf.


> and with maybe an early f4, things
> Black should be prepared for, since he is level at move 2 in each.
> Perhaps you need to know that to play the opening - but that is a
> level of confidence which takes time to accrue - which is why its good
> to steer clear of the Sicilian until you have that confidence - which,
> broadly speaking I put at 1700.
>
> > I beg to differ, what else can beginners play but purely tactical
> > openings such as the Open Game or the Open Sicilian,
>
> A decent hedgehog, moves almost in any order, and let the other guy
> knock you over. Or, come to that, a Benoni, I mean an old Benoni.
> Event the English Defence.
>
> > where you don't
> > get tangled up in positionally complex positions which are
> > incomprehensible to the lower rated player ?
>
> Russian Defence [Petroff]. Look, you yourself said you are foxed in
> your own choice of Dragon Sicilian at move 6 - very few players know
> 12 moves of anything. Talking with Dan Heisman who is another chess
> teacher, he strongly agreed.

This is touching on another subject, namely, what the best openings
are for the new player : I would say that though I could agree to an
extent that all the openings you named are viable options for the
beginner ( except maybe for the old benoni, which could still develop
a closed center ) , by playing main line ...e5 or ... c5 ( though I
would limit my student's repertoire to the less strategically complex
Dragon variations to begin with ) you give him the opportunity of
playing definitely sound moves from the word go, but you allow him to
test his mettle with positions where he has the chance of playing "
correct " theoretical moves that don't require much positional
knowledge, which is something you don't do in less committal openings
such as the Hedgehog or the English defense though of course we could
debate this for another 50 posts, and having played the Colle myself
for a few years I'm in no position to preach. :o)

> ( cut )

> The thing above all is to understand the type of position you are
> getting into - and if its too complex, play something simpler.

Agreed. But having said that, I feel the Dragon, and possibly other
main lines of the Open Sicilian ( I'm no expert ), might offer the sub
1700 rated player the chance to play a theoretical game that he still
has some chance of comprehending strategically.


 
Date: 05 Jan 2009 14:38:36
From:
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On Jan 5, 5:06=A0pm, onech...@comcast.net wrote:
> On Jan 5, 3:26=A0pm, taylor.kings...@comcast.net wrote:
>
> > On Jan 5, 2:28=A0pm, onech...@comcast.net wrote:
>
> > > How can you say so if you never had experience above 1700 level?
>
> > =A0 What a strange comment, Phil, when you already know that I have
> > ample experience above 1700 level, in both OTB and postal play. My own
> > ratings, and the ratings of many of my opponents, are well above that.
>
> It may be strange, but consistent with your commentary.

You are waxing ever more bizarre, Phil, as is your custom. An Elo
rating is not based on "commentary," it is based on chess-playing
performance. Your claim that I "never had experience above 1700 level"
is simply false.

> > > > If both you and your
> > > > opponent are under Elo 1700, the Sicilian is no worse a choice than
> > > > any other =97 his tactical ability is no better than yours, so choo=
sing
> > > > a tactical opening incurs no particular advantage or disadvantage. =
If
> > > > you're rated 2200 but your opponent is 2800, you'll probably lose n=
o
> > > > matter what opening you play.
>
> > > Well, haha, how general a commentary that is.
>
> > =A0 Of course it's general. This entire thread is about generalities.
>
> Its about the Sicilian. It has morphed away from why top players don't
> use it [not true]

No, the OP asked (and I quote) "How come some GMs don't play the
sicilian defense regularly?" That is not at all the same question as
"Why don't top players use it?"

> to who aughta use it.

That was your tangent, when you asserted that sub-1700 players
should not play it.

> > > > =A0 Saying "From a rating point of view, probably 1700+" implies th=
at
> > > > one should not start playing the Sicilian until one has reached Elo
> > > > 1700. I would disagree.
>
> > > Yes - but 1700 is about your peak rating, and therefore a qualified
> > > opinion.
>
> > =A0 Phil, where do you get this strange notion about my peak ratings? M=
y
> > OTB peak was about 1850, my postal peak about 2270. I haven't been at
> > or below 1700 for decades.
>
> I suppose I get them from you -

No, from me you get the facts about my ratings. From you we get
weird claims contrary to those facts.

> and these peaks are also a decade old,
> no?

No, they're closer to two decades old =97 my OTB peak came around
1990, my postal peak in 1984. But you seem to be shifting ground. Are
you talking about my peaks, or my current ratings? A peak is a peak,
whenever it occurred. Not that either is at all relevant to the OP's
question.

> > > I think stronger players disagree.
>
> > =A0 Please cite some of these, if you can. I mean quotes the rest of us
> > can check, not just something you assert out of thin air.
>
> You don't have a library? As usual you make a contest of something,
> then you want proofs supplied by others.

Lord, Phil, you are as tedious as help-bot. No, I simply want
*_you_* to supply proof for what *_you_* claim. That is your
responsibility, not mine.

> What depends on any proof?

What a bizarre question. The truth of *_your_* assertion depends on
proof, that's what. If you do not care to provide proof, then we are
entitled to disregard your claim.

>
> > > There is no generic 'kind of game' typical to the Sicilian.
>
> > =A0 In that case, you would have no basis for saying anyone should or
> > should not play it.
>
> Did we not agree that it is a combative system?

Then you _are_ saying there is a "kind of game" typical to the
Sicilian. Make up your mind, Phil, and stop contradicting yourself.

> That is the basis for
> saying whether someone might play it or not. But there is no generic
> Sicilian, it is the /danger/opportunity/ of the opening characterizes
> it, not position.

Another incomprehensible comment. The knacky color that if so
shirts.

> > > The initial post asked why the very
> > > top few do not play it
>
> > =A0 No, the OP asked why _some_ GMs do not play it. Those he named
> > (Adams, Short, Kramnik, Karpov) cannot be characterized as "the very
> > top few," since there are many players of equal or better rank who do
> > play the Sicilian regularly.
>
> But they have been in the very top ranks! Isn't that the intent of the
> writer? If you name some GMs you and then offer those 4, clearly you
> mean first tier players.

I am going by what the OP actually said, rather than some
presumption of his intent. And since in fact the majority of first-
tier players *_do_* play the Sicilian regularly, it would be absurd to
try to answer the question you assume the OP really meant.

> > Just checking my database for games by
> > the current FIDE top 10 =97 Anand, Topalov, Ivanchuk, Carlsen
> > Morozevich, Radjabov, Jakovenko, Kramnik, Leko and Movsesian =97 =A0I f=
ind
> > that they all play the Sicilian often, even Kramnik. And you may
> > recall a guy named Kasparov, who played it a lot.
>
> Quite.

First sensible thing you've said all post.


 
Date: 05 Jan 2009 14:31:10
From: Alessandro J.
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On 4 Gen, 18:15, Alex <talltr...@yahoo.com > wrote:
> How come some GMs don't play the sicilian defense regularly? =A0is that
> okay?
> like Michael Adams, Nigel Short, Vladamir Kramnik, Karpov.

Chess, amongst other things, is also an expression of one's charachter
and inclination. These fine players, against their exalted opposition,
will choose other paths : you will find 1. ... e5 to be just as " good
" a reply, one that guarantees, in the long run, maybe a few more
draws in exchange of losing a bit less, but alas, winning a bit less
also.
>
> Is there a reason why they don't play the sicilian defense? =A0I thought
> the sicilian defense was supposed to be a really good opening and it
> is played by everyone.

I'm sure Karpov, against you or me in a simul maybe, might play the
Sicilian instead of his favorite Caro - Kann. Rest assured, he knows
( or more accurately he knew ) the Sicilian better than most players
alive or dead, only his main strenghts lie elsewhere : against a
Kasparov he really needs to direct the game elsewhere, because he
knows it even better than he does.

=A0 what kind of player do you have to be in
> order to play the sicilian effectively?

One who loves complex do or die positions that are strategically well
defined ( I attack on this end, you attack on the other, let's see who
gets in first )



 
Date: 05 Jan 2009 14:25:57
From:
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On Jan 5, 3:58=A0pm, "Alessandro J." <pyr...@bluewin.ch > wrote:
> On 5 Gen, 12:23, onech...@comcast.net wrote:
>
> > > > This is the sort of opening where Black tries to win typically by a
> > > > direct attack on the White King, and White tries to win by gaining
> > > > material in the Q side or in the center.
>
> > > I would have thought it would have been the other way round, this
> > > sounds like a very good definition of the King's Indian, rather.
>
> > I was mentioning the Pelikan, and black and white plans are indeed
> > similar to the KID.
>
> Being wrong or getting things mixed up doesn't make you a bad person,
> you know ?

That's a good start. Did you think Black goes elsewhere in the
Pelikan?

> > > > > =A0 what kind of player do you have to be in
> > > > > order to play the sicilian effectively?
> > > Well, simply put you must like playing unbalanced positions, but ther=
e
> > > are so many variations with so many different charachteristics that
> > > it's difficult to over generalize.
>
> > Its [laugh] easy to ever generalize - but generalizations are
> > indicated for such a broad question. Its true, if you play the
> > Sicilian you will likely wind up in unbalanced positions - the
> > question is, since Black choses 1 from a dozen Sicilian lines, won't
> > Black know more about the resulting unbalanced position than White?
>
> If White chooses to play an Open variation, maybe so. But even then I
> played the Dragon for a while, and sometimes wound up in a lot of
> trouble when White picked a minor sideline such as the Levenfish on
> move 6. The problem, as has been pointed out already, with playing
> Black, is that there are so many lines, that unless you make it a full
> time occupation you are liable to be in open waters fairly quickly
> against a knowledgeable White player.

You are allowing White to choose the direction of the game, and
fearing the result as soon as move 6? Play a different variation that
you understand. Its not the fault of the opening if the player doesn't
understand the position - and the position is complex!

> > That's about the size of it, and as much as can be said generally.
> > ( cut )
> > But Sicilian positions can also be unsharp strategic games - for those
> > capable of taking that in - and this means having a picture in your
> > mind of the position at move 10 or 13 or something - a tabiya, as it
> > is called - and the respective chances for both sides at that point.
>
> Strategic maybe, unsharp, I don't know, though we might differ in our
> opinion of what " sharp " actually means, and in that case it's
> usually White calling the shots with a Closed or Alapin variation, or
> such like.

Those are anti-Sicilian measures, and with maybe an early f4, things
Black should be prepared for, since he is level at move 2 in each.
Perhaps you need to know that to play the opening - but that is a
level of confidence which takes time to accrue - which is why its good
to steer clear of the Sicilian until you have that confidence - which,
broadly speaking I put at 1700.

> > Hence, I did not recommend the Sicilian to players
> > under 1700, since that is an approximate cusp for tactical competency
> > - beyond that level more structure is required to play against higher
> > rated players.
>
> I beg to differ, what else can beginners play but purely tactical
> openings such as the Open Game or the Open Sicilian,

A decent hedgehog, moves almost in any order, and let the other guy
knock you over. Or, come to that, a Benoni, I mean an old Benoni.
Event the English Defence.

> where you don't
> get tangled up in positionally complex positions which are
> incomprehensible to the lower rated player ?

Russian Defence [Petroff]. Look, you yourself said you are foxed in
your own choice of Dragon Sicilian at move 6 - very few players know
12 moves of anything. Talking with Dan Heisman who is another chess
teacher, he strongly agreed.

I used to play the Oranutan, and rarely had two games the same by move
6. But then, I knew that by invoking heavy tactics the other player
would often be shy, and I'd get what I wanted strategically - couple
rooks down the c file, etc. But if they opened up into a slug-fest,
then I was cool with that too.

As black the Benko is a good gambit if you want to play hard - or bore
the guy to death with the Slav. Mix it up a bit to suit your opponent
and your own mood.

The thing above all is to understand the type of position you are
getting into - and if its too complex, play something simpler.

Cordially, Phil Innes


 
Date: 05 Jan 2009 14:06:22
From:
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On Jan 5, 3:26=A0pm, taylor.kings...@comcast.net wrote:
> On Jan 5, 2:28=A0pm, onech...@comcast.net wrote:
>
>
>
> > On Jan 5, 9:58=A0am, taylor.kings...@comcast.net wrote:
>
> > > On Jan 4, 8:43=A0pm, "Alessandro J." <pyr...@bluewin.ch> wrote:
>
> > > > On 4 Gen, 20:52, onech...@comcast.net wrote:
>
> > > > > On Jan 4, 12:15=A0pm, Alex <talltr...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> > > > > This is the sort of opening where Black tries to win typically by=
a
> > > > > direct attack on the White King, and White tries to win by gainin=
g
> > > > > material in the Q side or in the center.
>
> > > > I would have thought it would have been the other way round, this
> > > > sounds like a very good definition of the King's Indian, rather.
>
> > > =A0 I was about to say the same thing, Alessandro. In most main lines=
of
> > > the Sicilian =97 e.g. the Najdorf, Dragon, Scheveningen, Richter-Rauz=
er
> > > =97 White attacks on the kingside, often with a full-on pawn storm af=
ter
> > > castling queenside, while Black has counterplay on the queenside or i=
n
> > > the center. Unless theory and fashion have changed a lot in the last
> > > few years, it's unusual to have it the other way around.
>
> > Except of course in the Pelikan, which is the variation I mentioned...
>
> > > > > > =A0 what kind of player do you have to be in
> > > > > > order to play the sicilian effectively?
>
> > > > > From a rating point of view, probably 1700+.
>
> > > =A0 One's rating has nothing to do with it.
>
> > How can you say so if you never had experience above 1700 level?
>
> =A0 What a strange comment, Phil, when you already know that I have
> ample experience above 1700 level, in both OTB and postal play. My own
> ratings, and the ratings of many of my opponents, are well above that.

It may be strange, but consistent with your commentary.


> > > If both you and your
> > > opponent are under Elo 1700, the Sicilian is no worse a choice than
> > > any other =97 his tactical ability is no better than yours, so choosi=
ng
> > > a tactical opening incurs no particular advantage or disadvantage. If
> > > you're rated 2200 but your opponent is 2800, you'll probably lose no
> > > matter what opening you play.
>
> > Well, haha, how general a commentary that is.
>
> =A0 Of course it's general. This entire thread is about generalities.

Its about the Sicilian. It has morphed away from why top players don't
use it [not true] to who aughta use it.

> > > =A0 Saying "From a rating point of view, probably 1700+" implies that
> > > one should not start playing the Sicilian until one has reached Elo
> > > 1700. I would disagree.
>
> > Yes - but 1700 is about your peak rating, and therefore a qualified
> > opinion.
>
> =A0 Phil, where do you get this strange notion about my peak ratings? My
> OTB peak was about 1850, my postal peak about 2270. I haven't been at
> or below 1700 for decades.

I suppose I get them from you - and these peaks are also a decade old,
no? Even so - you might make it clear that this was your experience at
1850 - and that is a qualified experience, which I think is the point
of all.

> > I think stronger players disagree.
>
> =A0 Please cite some of these, if you can. I mean quotes the rest of us
> can check, not just something you assert out of thin air.

You don't have a library? As usual you make a contest of something,
then you want proofs supplied by others. What depends on any proof?
Would you suddenly 'believe' differently? I did write some chessic
appreciation of how well players perform at various levels below. If
that is no proof, then state what you think in terms of your own
experience to be a proof.

> > > If the Sicilian affords the kind of game one
> > > finds interesting, enough to make it a regular part of one's
> > > repertoire, one might as well start playing it early, to gain
> > > experience with it.
>
> > There is no generic 'kind of game' typical to the Sicilian.
>
> =A0 In that case, you would have no basis for saying anyone should or
> should not play it.

Did we not agree that it is a combative system? That is the basis for
saying whether someone might play it or not. But there is no generic
Sicilian, it is the /danger/opportunity/ of the opening characterizes
it, not position.

> > > =A0 I can't think of any opening where I'd say "Play this only if you=
r
> > > rating is at least X." Play whatever you find interesting, enjoyable
> > > and understandable for you, and success will usually follow.
>
> > I believe you when you say you can't think it. Even so, the Sicilian
> > is a morass of interposing complex lines, more than any other, and one
> > has to ask what the real issue is? The initial post asked why the very
> > top few do not play it
>
> =A0 No, the OP asked why _some_ GMs do not play it. Those he named
> (Adams, Short, Kramnik, Karpov) cannot be characterized as "the very
> top few," since there are many players of equal or better rank who do
> play the Sicilian regularly.

But they have been in the very top ranks! Isn't that the intent of the
writer ? If you name some GMs you and then offer those 4, clearly you
mean first tier players.


> Just checking my database for games by
> the current FIDE top 10 =97 Anand, Topalov, Ivanchuk, Carlsen
> Morozevich, Radjabov, Jakovenko, Kramnik, Leko and Movsesian =97 =A0I fin=
d
> that they all play the Sicilian often, even Kramnik. And you may
> recall a guy named Kasparov, who played it a lot.

Quite.

> > =A0[not entirely true, BTW] as if that had some
> > pertinence to what others should play. The answer is that it is risky
> > - and top players attempt to draw with Black - the Sicilian is simply
> > less compromising. That is the direct answer to the original poster.
> > > > It favors fighting is the
> > > > > other answer - to the degree that you must like a good slug-fest =
to
> > > > > play it well.
>
> > > =A0 That I do agree with.
>
> > Yes - it encourages both sides to strain. By all means play a Sicilian
> > line if you like, if that suits you - the question is, if you are only
> > 1500, or not even so strong, then are you able to do more than hope
> > you see more than opponent, since perforce 1500 is not much tactical
> > strength - and the Sicilian can be very much that way -
>
> =A0 So what? If you are playing opponents of about your own strength,
> the supposed handicap you posit applies to both, and therefore is no
> handicap.

You miss the point that the Sicilian is a risk Black undertakes. The
risk is not mutual if both players are inept at pursuing the position.
There are safer ways to engage opponent without gambling so much.

>Frankly, players of Elo 1700, the cutoff at which you
> consider it acceptable to play the Sicilian,

Generally, I used to say 1800.

> generally are quite bad
> tactically, committing several fairly serious oversights per game on
> average.
>
> > of course it
> > has strategic options too, but I think we have not strayed in that
> > direction yet, being a bit fixed on tactics. And that is what you got
> > for standard club players who average 1500-1700 - tactics and not much
> > deeper pattern that could be called strategy.
>
> > We do not have a disagreement here, except that all is tactics for
> > that 1500-1700 range. To engage an opening system so large as to have
> > a dozen main variations, all of which deliver a certain type of
> > position [though the worth of each is perhaps unknown to the 1500-1700
> > player], is merely to randomly gamble with one's fortunes to the
> > extent that it maintains the player in that 1500-1700 range.
>
> =A0 A strange opinion. My experience is quite the opposite. In postal
> play in the 1980s, I raised my rating over 900 points, going from
> Class C to Master, and making it into the USCF top 50, playing almost
> nothing but the Sicilian against 1.e4. In my favorite line, the
> Dragon, I scored 18 wins in 20 games, 90%. Not exactly a "random
> gamble" as far as I was concerned. :-)

You switch the subject. If its postal ratings I have a GM norm. And
gawd knows how people play 600 points over their OTB at postal - did
you look at books and use computer?

That is another subject! I mean when the props are taken away are you
still 1850 at peak? When not at peak maybe you are 1750 - pretty close
to where I thought people could handle the opening [without a book at
their elbow]. Get it ?

Phil Innes



 
Date: 05 Jan 2009 12:58:05
From: Alessandro J.
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On 5 Gen, 12:23, onech...@comcast.net wrote:

> > > This is the sort of opening where Black tries to win typically by a
> > > direct attack on the White King, and White tries to win by gaining
> > > material in the Q side or in the center.
>
> > I would have thought it would have been the other way round, this
> > sounds like a very good definition of the King's Indian, rather.
>
> I was mentioning the Pelikan, and black and white plans are indeed
> similar to the KID.

Being wrong or getting things mixed up doesn't make you a bad person,
you know ?

> > > > =A0 what kind of player do you have to be in
> > > > order to play the sicilian effectively?
> > Well, simply put you must like playing unbalanced positions, but there
> > are so many variations with so many different charachteristics that
> > it's difficult to over generalize.
>
> Its [laugh] easy to ever generalize - but generalizations are
> indicated for such a broad question. Its true, if you play the
> Sicilian you will likely wind up in unbalanced positions - the
> question is, since Black choses 1 from a dozen Sicilian lines, won't
> Black know more about the resulting unbalanced position than White?

If White chooses to play an Open variation, maybe so. But even then I
played the Dragon for a while, and sometimes wound up in a lot of
trouble when White picked a minor sideline such as the Levenfish on
move 6. The problem, as has been pointed out already, with playing
Black, is that there are so many lines, that unless you make it a full
time occupation you are liable to be in open waters fairly quickly
against a knowledgeable White player.


> That's about the size of it, and as much as can be said generally.
> ( cut )
> But Sicilian positions can also be unsharp strategic games - for those
> capable of taking that in - and this means having a picture in your
> mind of the position at move 10 or 13 or something - a tabiya, as it
> is called - and the respective chances for both sides at that point.

Strategic maybe, unsharp, I don't know, though we might differ in our
opinion of what " sharp " actually means, and in that case it's
usually White calling the shots with a Closed or Alapin variation, or
such like.

> Hence, I did not recommend the Sicilian to players
> under 1700, since that is an approximate cusp for tactical competency
> - beyond that level more structure is required to play against higher
> rated players.

I beg to differ, what else can beginners play but purely tactical
openings such as the Open Game or the Open Sicilian, where you don't
get tangled up in positionally complex positions which are
incomprehensible to the lower rated player ?




 
Date: 05 Jan 2009 12:41:10
From: Alessandro J.
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On 5 Gen, 15:04, Quadibloc <jsav...@ecn.ab.ca > wrote:
> On Jan 4, 10:15=A0am, Alex <talltr...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> > How come some GMs don't play the sicilian defense regularly? =A0is that
> > okay?
> > like Michael Adams, Nigel Short, Vladamir Kramnik, Karpov.
> > Is there a reason why they don't play the sicilian defense? =A0I though=
t
> > the sicilian defense was supposed to be a really good opening and it
> > is played by everyone. =A0 what kind of player do you have to be in
> > order to play the sicilian effectively?
>
> Oh, the Sicilian is a *very* good opening. For Black. That's why they
> call it the Sicilian *Defense*.
>
> Which is why White hardly *ever* plays 1 P-K4 (1 e4) any more, at
> least in high-level play, so Grandmasters seldom get the *opportunity*
> to make use of this devastating weapon.
>
> John Savard

That's not true at all, the only player who hardly gets to play
against 1.e4 nowadays is Kramnik, and that's definitely not because of
his Sicilian lines.


 
Date: 05 Jan 2009 12:26:51
From:
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On Jan 5, 2:28=A0pm, onech...@comcast.net wrote:
> On Jan 5, 9:58=A0am, taylor.kings...@comcast.net wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> > On Jan 4, 8:43=A0pm, "Alessandro J." <pyr...@bluewin.ch> wrote:
>
> > > On 4 Gen, 20:52, onech...@comcast.net wrote:
>
> > > > On Jan 4, 12:15=A0pm, Alex <talltr...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> > > > This is the sort of opening where Black tries to win typically by a
> > > > direct attack on the White King, and White tries to win by gaining
> > > > material in the Q side or in the center.
>
> > > I would have thought it would have been the other way round, this
> > > sounds like a very good definition of the King's Indian, rather.
>
> > =A0 I was about to say the same thing, Alessandro. In most main lines o=
f
> > the Sicilian =97 e.g. the Najdorf, Dragon, Scheveningen, Richter-Rauzer
> > =97 White attacks on the kingside, often with a full-on pawn storm afte=
r
> > castling queenside, while Black has counterplay on the queenside or in
> > the center. Unless theory and fashion have changed a lot in the last
> > few years, it's unusual to have it the other way around.
>
> Except of course in the Pelikan, which is the variation I mentioned...
>
> > > > > =A0 what kind of player do you have to be in
> > > > > order to play the sicilian effectively?
>
> > > > From a rating point of view, probably 1700+.
>
> > =A0 One's rating has nothing to do with it.
>
> How can you say so if you never had experience above 1700 level?

What a strange comment, Phil, when you already know that I have
ample experience above 1700 level, in both OTB and postal play. My own
ratings, and the ratings of many of my opponents, are well above that.

> > If both you and your
> > opponent are under Elo 1700, the Sicilian is no worse a choice than
> > any other =97 his tactical ability is no better than yours, so choosing
> > a tactical opening incurs no particular advantage or disadvantage. If
> > you're rated 2200 but your opponent is 2800, you'll probably lose no
> > matter what opening you play.
>
> Well, haha, how general a commentary that is.

Of course it's general. This entire thread is about generalities.

> > =A0 Saying "From a rating point of view, probably 1700+" implies that
> > one should not start playing the Sicilian until one has reached Elo
> > 1700. I would disagree.
>
> Yes - but 1700 is about your peak rating, and therefore a qualified
> opinion.

Phil, where do you get this strange notion about my peak ratings? My
OTB peak was about 1850, my postal peak about 2270. I haven't been at
or below 1700 for decades.

> I think stronger players disagree.

Please cite some of these, if you can. I mean quotes the rest of us
can check, not just something you assert out of thin air.

> > If the Sicilian affords the kind of game one
> > finds interesting, enough to make it a regular part of one's
> > repertoire, one might as well start playing it early, to gain
> > experience with it.
>
> There is no generic 'kind of game' typical to the Sicilian.

In that case, you would have no basis for saying anyone should or
should not play it.

> > =A0 I can't think of any opening where I'd say "Play this only if your
> > rating is at least X." Play whatever you find interesting, enjoyable
> > and understandable for you, and success will usually follow.
>
> I believe you when you say you can't think it. Even so, the Sicilian
> is a morass of interposing complex lines, more than any other, and one
> has to ask what the real issue is? The initial post asked why the very
> top few do not play it

No, the OP asked why _some_ GMs do not play it. Those he named
(Adams, Short, Kramnik, Karpov) cannot be characterized as "the very
top few," since there are many players of equal or better rank who do
play the Sicilian regularly. Just checking my database for games by
the current FIDE top 10 =97 Anand, Topalov, Ivanchuk, Carlsen
Morozevich, Radjabov, Jakovenko, Kramnik, Leko and Movsesian =97 I find
that they all play the Sicilian often, even Kramnik. And you may
recall a guy named Kasparov, who played it a lot.

> [not entirely true, BTW] as if that had some
> pertinence to what others should play. The answer is that it is risky
> - and top players attempt to draw with Black - the Sicilian is simply
> less compromising. That is the direct answer to the original poster.

> > > It favors fighting is the
> > > > other answer - to the degree that you must like a good slug-fest to
> > > > play it well.
>
> > =A0 That I do agree with.
>
> Yes - it encourages both sides to strain. By all means play a Sicilian
> line if you like, if that suits you - the question is, if you are only
> 1500, or not even so strong, then are you able to do more than hope
> you see more than opponent, since perforce 1500 is not much tactical
> strength - and the Sicilian can be very much that way -

So what? If you are playing opponents of about your own strength,
the supposed handicap you posit applies to both, and therefore is no
handicap. Frankly, players of Elo 1700, the cutoff at which you
consider it acceptable to play the Sicilian, generally are quite bad
tactically, committing several fairly serious oversights per game on
average.

> of course it
> has strategic options too, but I think we have not strayed in that
> direction yet, being a bit fixed on tactics. And that is what you got
> for standard club players who average 1500-1700 - tactics and not much
> deeper pattern that could be called strategy.
>
> We do not have a disagreement here, except that all is tactics for
> that 1500-1700 range. To engage an opening system so large as to have
> a dozen main variations, all of which deliver a certain type of
> position [though the worth of each is perhaps unknown to the 1500-1700
> player], is merely to randomly gamble with one's fortunes to the
> extent that it maintains the player in that 1500-1700 range.

A strange opinion. My experience is quite the opposite. In postal
play in the 1980s, I raised my rating over 900 points, going from
Class C to Master, and making it into the USCF top 50, playing almost
nothing but the Sicilian against 1.e4. In my favorite line, the
Dragon, I scored 18 wins in 20 games, 90%. Not exactly a "random
gamble" as far as I was concerned. :-)



 
Date: 05 Jan 2009 11:28:56
From:
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On Jan 5, 9:58=A0am, taylor.kings...@comcast.net wrote:
> On Jan 4, 8:43=A0pm, "Alessandro J." <pyr...@bluewin.ch> wrote:
>
> > On 4 Gen, 20:52, onech...@comcast.net wrote:
>
> > > On Jan 4, 12:15=A0pm, Alex <talltr...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> > > This is the sort of opening where Black tries to win typically by a
> > > direct attack on the White King, and White tries to win by gaining
> > > material in the Q side or in the center.
>
> > I would have thought it would have been the other way round, this
> > sounds like a very good definition of the King's Indian, rather.
>
> =A0 I was about to say the same thing, Alessandro. In most main lines of
> the Sicilian =97 e.g. the Najdorf, Dragon, Scheveningen, Richter-Rauzer
> =97 White attacks on the kingside, often with a full-on pawn storm after
> castling queenside, while Black has counterplay on the queenside or in
> the center. Unless theory and fashion have changed a lot in the last
> few years, it's unusual to have it the other way around.

Except of course in the Pelikan, which is the variation I mentioned...

> > > > =A0 what kind of player do you have to be in
> > > > order to play the sicilian effectively?
>
> > > From a rating point of view, probably 1700+.
>
> =A0 One's rating has nothing to do with it.

How can you say so if you never had experience above 1700 level?

> If both you and your
> opponent are under Elo 1700, the Sicilian is no worse a choice than
> any other =97 his tactical ability is no better than yours, so choosing
> a tactical opening incurs no particular advantage or disadvantage. If
> you're rated 2200 but your opponent is 2800, you'll probably lose no
> matter what opening you play.

Well, haha, how general a commentary that is.

> =A0 Saying "From a rating point of view, probably 1700+" implies that
> one should not start playing the Sicilian until one has reached Elo
> 1700. I would disagree.

Yes - but 1700 is about your peak rating, and therefore a qualified
opinion. I think stronger players disagree.

> If the Sicilian affords the kind of game one
> finds interesting, enough to make it a regular part of one's
> repertoire, one might as well start playing it early, to gain
> experience with it.

There is no generic 'kind of game' typical to the Sicilian.

> =A0 I can't think of any opening where I'd say "Play this only if your
> rating is at least X." Play whatever you find interesting, enjoyable
> and understandable for you, and success will usually follow.

I believe you when you say you can't think it. Even so, the Sicilian
is a morass of interposing complex lines, more than any other, and one
has to ask what the real issue is? The initial post asked why the very
top few do not play it [not entirely true, BTW] as if that had some
pertinence to what others should play. The answer is that it is risky
- and top players attempt to draw with Black - the Sicilian is simply
less compromising. That is the direct answer to the original poster.


> > It favors fighting is the
> > > other answer - to the degree that you must like a good slug-fest to
> > > play it well.
>
> =A0 That I do agree with.

Yes - it encourages both sides to strain. By all means play a Sicilian
line if you like, if that suits you - the question is, if you are only
1500, or not even so strong, then are you able to do more than hope
you see more than opponent, since perforce 1500 is not much tactical
strength - and the Sicilian can be very much that way - of course it
has strategic options too, but I think we have not strayed in that
direction yet, being a bit fixed on tactics. And that is what you got
for standard club players who average 1500-1700 - tactics and not much
deeper pattern that could be called strategy.

We do not have a disagreement here, except that all is tactics for
that 1500-1700 range. To engage an opening system so large as to have
a dozen main variations, all of which deliver a certain type of
position [though the worth of each is perhaps unknown to the 1500-1700
player], is merely to randomly gamble with one's fortunes to the
extent that it maintains the player in that 1500-1700 range.

That is why it don't make much difference what opening you play - you
won't be able to control the type of game which results anyway - and
1700+ players can do that, which is why they have higher ratings.
Nothing, you see, to do with luck.

Phil Innes


 
Date: 05 Jan 2009 06:58:01
From:
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On Jan 4, 8:43=A0pm, "Alessandro J." <pyr...@bluewin.ch > wrote:
> On 4 Gen, 20:52, onech...@comcast.net wrote:
>
> > On Jan 4, 12:15=A0pm, Alex <talltr...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> > This is the sort of opening where Black tries to win typically by a
> > direct attack on the White King, and White tries to win by gaining
> > material in the Q side or in the center.
>
> I would have thought it would have been the other way round, this
> sounds like a very good definition of the King's Indian, rather.

I was about to say the same thing, Alessandro. In most main lines of
the Sicilian =97 e.g. the Najdorf, Dragon, Scheveningen, Richter-Rauzer
=97 White attacks on the kingside, often with a full-on pawn storm after
castling queenside, while Black has counterplay on the queenside or in
the center. Unless theory and fashion have changed a lot in the last
few years, it's unusual to have it the other way around.

> > > =A0 what kind of player do you have to be in
> > > order to play the sicilian effectively?
>
> > From a rating point of view, probably 1700+.

One's rating has nothing to do with it. If both you and your
opponent are under Elo 1700, the Sicilian is no worse a choice than
any other =97 his tactical ability is no better than yours, so choosing
a tactical opening incurs no particular advantage or disadvantage. If
you're rated 2200 but your opponent is 2800, you'll probably lose no
matter what opening you play.
Saying "From a rating point of view, probably 1700+" implies that
one should not start playing the Sicilian until one has reached Elo
1700. I would disagree. If the Sicilian affords the kind of game one
finds interesting, enough to make it a regular part of one's
repertoire, one might as well start playing it early, to gain
experience with it.
I can't think of any opening where I'd say "Play this only if your
rating is at least X." Play whatever you find interesting, enjoyable
and understandable for you, and success will usually follow.

> It favors fighting is the
> > other answer - to the degree that you must like a good slug-fest to
> > play it well.

That I do agree with.



 
Date: 05 Jan 2009 06:04:43
From: Quadibloc
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On Jan 4, 10:15=A0am, Alex <talltr...@yahoo.com > wrote:
> How come some GMs don't play the sicilian defense regularly? =A0is that
> okay?
> like Michael Adams, Nigel Short, Vladamir Kramnik, Karpov.

> Is there a reason why they don't play the sicilian defense? =A0I thought
> the sicilian defense was supposed to be a really good opening and it
> is played by everyone. =A0 what kind of player do you have to be in
> order to play the sicilian effectively?

Oh, the Sicilian is a *very* good opening. For Black. That's why they
call it the Sicilian *Defense*.

Which is why White hardly *ever* plays 1 P-K4 (1 e4) any more, at
least in high-level play, so Grandmasters seldom get the *opportunity*
to make use of this devastating weapon.

John Savard


 
Date: 05 Jan 2009 03:23:13
From:
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On Jan 4, 8:43=A0pm, "Alessandro J." <pyr...@bluewin.ch > wrote:
> On 4 Gen, 20:52, onech...@comcast.net wrote:
>
> > On Jan 4, 12:15=A0pm, Alex <talltr...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> > This is the sort of opening where Black tries to win typically by a
> > direct attack on the White King, and White tries to win by gaining
> > material in the Q side or in the center.
>
> I would have thought it would have been the other way round, this
> sounds like a very good definition of the King's Indian, rather.

I was mentioning the Pelikan, and black and white plans are indeed
similar to the KID.

> > > =A0 what kind of player do you have to be in
> > > order to play the sicilian effectively?
>
> > From a rating point of view, probably 1700+. It favors fighting is the
> > other answer - to the degree that you must like a good slug-fest to
> > play it well.
>
> Well, simply put you must like playing unbalanced positions, but there
> are so many variations with so many different charachteristics that
> it's difficult to over generalize.

Its [laugh] easy to ever generalize - but generalizations are
indicated for such a broad question. Its true, if you play the
Sicilian you will likely wind up in unbalanced positions - the
question is, since Black choses 1 from a dozen Sicilian lines, won't
Black know more about the resulting unbalanced position than White?
That's about the size of it, and as much as can be said generally.

If you go back to the top of this thread and observe Taylor Kingston's
answer - which is at least honest from his playing level, he says:

"While the Sicilian is a sound and strong opening, and one of the
most
popular, not everyone likes the kind of game it usually leads to, a
sharp, double-edged tactical struggle. Those with a more strategic
bent may prefer the French or Caro-Kann.
Also in many lines of the Sicilian one must know theory quite
thoroughly to play it at GM level. Traps abound, TNs are frequent,
and
a small mistake may be fatal. If one instead plays, say, the Petroff
or Nimzovich Defense, less memorization is needed. "

But Sicilian positions can also be unsharp strategic games - for those
capable of taking that in - and this means having a picture in your
mind of the position at move 10 or 13 or something - a tabiya, as it
is called - and the respective chances for both sides at that point.

If you are worried about tricks and traps in the Opening of your own
choice [!] you should take Taylor Kingston's advice, and not engage
stronger players in openings when you can get tactically outwitted
before move 10. Hence, I did not recommend the Sicilian to players
under 1700, since that is an approximate cusp for tactical competency
- beyond that level more structure is required to play against higher
rated players.

The main point of choosing a Sicilian line is that as Black you will
almost certainly know more than White. Right? You just have to be good
enough to take advantage of your knowledge and gain an advantage. Best
way to appreciate the Sicilian is to play against it with strong
players - then you get to see its strength. What top GMs do and don't
do have little to do with most players.

Cordially, Phil Innes


 
Date: 04 Jan 2009 17:43:31
From: Alessandro J.
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On 4 Gen, 20:52, onech...@comcast.net wrote:
> On Jan 4, 12:15=A0pm, Alex <talltr...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>

> This is the sort of opening where Black tries to win typically by a
> direct attack on the White King, and White tries to win by gaining
> material in the Q side or in the center.

I would have thought it would have been the other way round, this
sounds like a very good definition of the King's Indian, rather.

> > =A0 what kind of player do you have to be in
> > order to play the sicilian effectively?
>
> From a rating point of view, probably 1700+. It favors fighting is the
> other answer - to the degree that you must like a good slug-fest to
> play it well.

Well, simply put you must like playing unbalanced positions, but there
are so many variations with so many different charachteristics that
it's difficult to over generalize.


 
Date: 05 Jan 2009 10:50:27
From: madams
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
alain1988june@gmail.com wrote:
>
> > Chess would be pretty dull if everyone played the same opening!
>
> As dull as if the starting position is always the same?

Are you referencing a time prior the advent of Ragina Vegina?..

m.


 
Date: 04 Jan 2009 11:52:40
From:
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On Jan 4, 12:15=A0pm, Alex <talltr...@yahoo.com > wrote:
> How come some GMs don't play the sicilian defense regularly? =A0is that
> okay?
> like Michael Adams, Nigel Short, Vladamir Kramnik, Karpov.

This is the sort of opening where Black tries to win typically by a
direct attack on the White King, and White tries to win by gaining
material in the Q side or in the center. The Sicilian provokes a
struggle to win - both sides using [generally speaking] different
strategies to do so.

Many players adopt the posture of 'Win with White, Draw with Black',
therefore the Sicilian does not accord with this plan.

Three notable Hungarian Grandmasters use it, Adorjan, Judit Polgar and
Peter Leko.

> Is there a reason why they don't play the sicilian defense? =A0I thought
> the sicilian defense was supposed to be a really good opening and it
> is played by everyone.

I think other commentators here make the point that it is also
fantastically complicated and trappy. But objectively, if you as Black
chose a specific Sicilian line then you will know more about it than
White, who, after all, cannot be expected to know all lines as well as
you understand one.

The Sicilian is uncompromising in its competition from move 1.

> =A0 what kind of player do you have to be in
> order to play the sicilian effectively?

From a rating point of view, probably 1700+. It favors fighting is the
other answer - to the degree that you must like a good slug-fest to
play it well.

Cordially, Phil Innes


 
Date: 04 Jan 2009 10:52:35
From:
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
> =A0 Chess would be pretty dull if everyone played the same opening!

As dull as if the starting position is always the same?


 
Date: 04 Jan 2009 10:45:56
From: Offramp
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On Jan 4, 5:15=A0pm, Alex <talltr...@yahoo.com > wrote:

> what kind of player do you have to be in order to play the Sicilian effec=
tively?

You have to be a player for whom chess is 55% of your life and the
Sicilian Defence is 45%. A week is a long time in the Sicilian and you
have to keep bang up-to-date with games played all over the world. One
would have no time for stamp-collecting for example.


 
Date: 04 Jan 2009 09:48:05
From: Taylor Kingston
Subject: Re: Why don't some GMs play the Sicilian Defense?
On Jan 4, 12:15=A0pm, Alex <talltr...@yahoo.com > wrote:
> How come some GMs don't play the sicilian defense regularly? =A0is that
> okay?
> like Michael Adams, Nigel Short, Vladamir Kramnik, Karpov.
>
> Is there a reason why they don't play the sicilian defense? =A0I thought
> the sicilian defense was supposed to be a really good opening and it
> is played by everyone. =A0 what kind of player do you have to be in
> order to play the sicilian effectively?

Opening choices are to a great extent a matter of personal taste.
While the Sicilian is a sound and strong opening, and one of the most
popular, not everyone likes the kind of game it usually leads to, a
sharp, double-edged tactical struggle. Those with a more strategic
bent may prefer the French or Caro-Kann.
Also in many lines of the Sicilian one must know theory quite
thoroughly to play it at GM level. Traps abound, TNs are frequent, and
a small mistake may be fatal. If one instead plays, say, the Petroff
or Nimzovich Defense, less memorization is needed.
Besides those I've mentioned, there are many other ways to meet
1.e4, such as the Pirc, the Modern, Alekhine's Defense, and of course
1...e5 with all its possibilities. All of these are just as sound and
playable as the Sicilian.
Chess would be pretty dull if everyone played the same opening!