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  1. Forum
  2. General Chess Discussion
  3. New Player & The Sicillian: Theory Overload

I'm new to chess (picking up several books recently and spending a few months reading books; I've managed to go from 700 to average around 1400 on chess.com before coming here) and I'm having some issues understanding the Sicillian. I'd like to utilize it against E4 however I find it to be incredibly deep and sharp. I've shuffled through a few variations (Fianchetto variations like Dragon or Accelerated don't seem to play as nicely as the Najdorf where I particularly enjoy the Poisoned Pawn variation) however I have issues when it goes off the rails; for instance the Moscow variation suddenly makes me feel as if I've got the sharp end of the knife.

Does anyone have any good resources or advice on how to delve deeper into the Sicillian? (Prefered Najdorf variations but any is fine.) and how to play when things go off the rails? Possibly some good book recommendations that are geared towards intermediate players as opposed to Grand Masters (the few books I have are devastatingly complex)

I prefer the sound Kan, not that much theory, rather ideas. Sure, some concrete lines will help.
Dragon and Najdorf are too much and half of the white players play semi main lines.

You can try, but in my opinion it's much too much.

There is so much theory known about the Sicilian, especially Najdorf, that even top players nearly have a full time job keeping up with it. Any book about it is obsolete as it leaves the press. The Najdorf itself is devastatingly complex, so do not blame the books about it for being so. As it is so complex with so much theory, also white players tend to avoid it and play side lines that they know well and thus also black needs to know well, e.g. the Moscow, but there are others. It surely is a strong defence, but with a lot of theory.

Something with less theory will objectively be not as strong. E.g. 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 or 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 a6. In practice that may score well, because opponents are not familiar with it.

Thanks guys; I've decided to abandon the Sicillian and go for the tried and true French Defense and investigate the Caro Khann. The Sicillian is too hotly contested for my current abilities. Appreciate the input.

If you want to master chess you should at least try the Sicilian. Sicilian-type positions occur from many other openings as well and understanding the basic ideas is very helpful. Don't be scared of the theory! These days there is a lot of theory in every opening, and you really don't have to worry about it too much below master level. You need the basics and the main lines and some subtleties and general ideas. If you discover that you like and have a feeling for Sicilian-type positions then that is worth a lot more than book knowledge and will win you many games.

On the other hand if you are attracted to the French and Caro-Kann positions then maybe Sicilian is not for you. But if you are going for those openings because they're "safe" or "non-theoretical" then that's wrong. They can be every bit as sharp. So just play the openings that appeal to you!

I always enjoyed the Sicilian as black. If you enjoy playing an opening then learning the theory isn't such a burden; it's a pleasure!

French is also very theoretical. Caro-Kann is quieter but may not meet your taste.
"I particularly enjoy the Poisoned Pawn variation"
What do you like about that variation? It seems like theoretically overloaded.
There are good side lines of the Sicilian, like 2...a6, 2...Nf6, 2...b6.

There's so many white players using this opening against sicilian nowadays.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c3

I'll rather call that variant simialr to Lazy Man's Sicilian.

Main problem for Sicilian players these days is everyone wants to play 3.Bb5! Sveshnikov was right...

At top level 3 Bb5+ is not played that frequently. Of course 3 Bb5+ and 3 c3 are good side lines for white.

@tpr 3.Bb5 has been massively popular recently...