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How to Play Against Sicilian Defense?

Guide for 800-2000 rated players

Do you know Sicilian Defense is the most popular chess opening against 1.e4? If you are an e4 player then you already know how frustrating it is to play against Sicilian Defense. Many of you want to go for mainline but somehow won’t work. Some players might have tried the sidelines but haven’t gotten many results. So what is the best option? In this article, we are going to see How to Play Against Sicilian Defense.
The best option to play against Sicilian Defense is to play Sidelines and play very aggressively. When you choose the sidelines, most of your opponents are unaware of that particular opening.
Once you get a better position after the opening, no one can stop you. The best opening to avoid main lines and play against Sicilian defense is to play Alapin Variation, Delayed Alapin Variation, and Moscow or Rossolimo Variation.

How to Play Against Sicilian Defense

The following are a few ways that will help you play against Sicilian defense more convincingly.

1- Prepare Opening Theory in Deep

Preparing opening theory is a must if you want to get results, especially against Sicilian Defense. The way is to prepare the sidelines as it will save you a lot of time and so that you can focus on the middle game.
To prepare the opening theory, the following bullet points will help you a lot

  • Use lichess or chessbase to create your repertoire
  • Watch great players’ games and take ideas from them
  • Follow the latest trends and add them to your repertoire

2- Play Sidelines

Playing sidelines will help you save time for opening preparation. There are a lot of ways to choose a perfect sideline. The simplest way is to follow recent games and copy their idea.
The only drawback of sidelines is that they will not be used for the long term. You constantly have to change lines or update them perfectly. Although if you are below 2000 FIDE-rated player, it is perfect to play sidelines.

3- Create Your Repertoire

Creating your repertoire saves a lot of time before the tournament. Keep your repertoire up to date with all resources. You can also add your games to that repertoire. Here are some ways to keep your opening repertoire up to date.

  • Add your recent games to your repertoire
  • Add top players’ games and novelties

4- Play Aggressive chess

To win against the Sicilian defense, the best way is to play aggressive chess. It is also important to choose an aggressive chess opening.
Usually playing aggressively works fine every time. Your opponents are most likely not able to defend. But while playing aggressively, keep your position safe and don’t make any unnecessary sacrifices.
To choose a good chess opening, you can play a few games against Sicilian Defense and then understand your playing style. After this, you can easily choose the opening which is best for you.

5- Play a Lot of Games

Once you finish all the above steps, the only way to remain is to practice and play a lot of games. Playing a lot of games will improve your understanding.
The best way to play games is to play 10+0 games on lichess. Once the game is finished, analyze the opening deeply and understand your mistakes. You can simply use the analysis tools of any website to find mistakes.
Other than online games, try the opening in over-the-board tournaments. This will help you to get an actual tournament feeling. You will also understand how to handle pressure, etc.

Best Openings to Play Against Sicilian Defense

Following are the 4 openings in which you can play against the Sicilian Defense. These openings are very safe but at the same time, they are very sharp and tactical. It is completely okay if you choose any openings besides from mentioned openings.

Moscow Variation

Moscow variation starts with 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+. The main plan of this variation is to exchange the white squared bishop and then continue. There are 3 main options for black to play. Moscow Variation gained a lot of popularity recently when all the top players started playing.
Black also get a comfortable position if black have decent theory knowledge. It is very easy to play from both sides but white gets an edge over black.

Rossolimo Variation

Rossolimo Variation starts with 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5+. It is a similar variation to Moscow but the only difference is 2nd move. We can say Rossolimo is the most popular variation against 2...Nc6.
White’s main plan is to take black’s knight and keep center control.
It is difficult for Sicilian players to maintain the pressure they are used to against the Rossolimo Attack. It should be in every arsenal as players playing as white.
Rossolimo is very easy to prepare. You can prepare the Rossolimo Variation in a week.

Alapin Variation

In the Alapin variation white plays 2.c3. Alapin Variation is also played on the top level and is still played by many grandmasters as their main weapon. Black has 2 main choices against Alapin. The first is 2...Nf6 and 2...d5.
White allows Isolated Queen Pawn in Alapin Variation for an active piece play. Isolated Queen Pawn is usually bad when there are very few pieces. In the case of Alapin, black tries to exchange pieces and get a better position.
Alapin Variation can be played in must-win situations as black usually don’t prepare for Alapin regularly.

Delayed Alapin Variation

Delayed Alapin is a version of Alapin Variation but white delays it by playing 2nd move Nf3 and then 3rd move c3. The main reason to play like this is to avoid black’s d5 move.
Delayed Alapin is also a very strong option against Sicilian Defense. There are various traps and tricks involved.
Black also gets a fine position if they play accurately. Delayed Alapin Variation is also played by World Champion Magnus Carlsen.

Westerinen Attack

The opening starts with 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.b3. Most of you will be amazed to know that this opening is very sharp and tactical. I have played it in hundreds of online games and 50+ classical and rapid games. If you have access to the Mega database, you will find many of the games played by me.
This opening is very safe and comes with zero risk for white.

These are a few openings that I have played and I got very good results. However, I think that these openings are not very good once you become a master level player.

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