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Sveshnikov vs. the Anti-Sicilians

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 Sveshnikov vs. the Anti-Sicilians: A Complete Repertoire for Black

A very useful book for players who employ the Sicilian Defence as Black, though not quite as complete as the subtitle claims.

The book examines in considerable detail every good, reasonable and halfway decent second move for White except  2.Nf3 (following 1.e4 c5). To be clear, then, neither the Rossolimo Variation (2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5), nor the Moscow Variation (2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+), nor for that matter the Wing Gambit in the form of 2.Nf3 d6 3.b4 (probably its optimal form, since Black cannot go …d7-d5 in one move, whereas after 2.b4 cxb4 3,a3 d5! is a good response) are covered. These systems (which are all anti-Sicilians, of course) may be the subject of a later volume; or so Sveshnikov suggests in the conclusion of this one.

Most attention is given over to the Closed Variation (2.Nc3), though the Grand Prix Attack (2.f4), the Morra Gambit (2.d4 cxd4 3.c3) and Sveshnikov’s own specialism (Alapin’s 2.c3) are allocated a fair amount of space. The outstanding feature of the book – and here the claim to completeness is justified – is that all White’s second moves are covered in a serious, that is to say in a principled and thorough, manner. This is true even of such oddball moves as 2.a3 Nc6 3.b4 (a kind of deferred Wing Gambit; 2.b4 is covered as well, of course), 2.c4 (a pet line of Normunds Miezis’, apparently: I was unaware of the existence of either the move or the player before reading this book) and the non-descript (how else to describe it?) 2.d3.

Sveshnikov shows no great love for Zviagintsev’s 2.Na3, because it moves the knight away from the centre and deprives the e4 pawn of its natural defender – the knight belongs on c3, he believes – but even in this case he devotes some care to working out Black’s best response. The move is not simply dismissed.

There are traps and tricks in many of these lines. Here is one that is both beautiful and well-hidden: 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Bc4 e6 5.Nge2 Nf6 6.O-O and now the principled advance 6…d5 looks straightforward and strong. What could be wrong with it? Well, it allows 7.exd5 exd5 8.Nxd5! winning at least a pawn. For after 8…Nxd5 9.Nxd4 cxd4 10.Qh5! Be6 (else White crashes through on f7 with a decisive attack) 11.Rel White wins back the piece. If 11…g6 12.Qxd5. If 11…Kd7 12.Bxd5. If 11…Be7 12.Rxe6 Nf6 13.Rxf6 exf6 14.Qxf7+ Kd7 15.d3 with a fatal encirclement: the Black king is too exposed after (say) Bf4 and Rel.

There are 75 theoretically significant games, many featuring Sveshnikov on either the White and Black side of the board. At the end, there are 36 exercises requiring positional and strategic nous as well as tactical vision, with very detailed solutions following. Apart from one chapter – there are far better ways to meet the Morra than to adopt the remedy given here by the great man – I found Sveshnikov’s analyses impressive.

Overall, Sveshnikov vs. the Anti-Sicilians is a high-quality opening repertoire book.

Book Details

Sveshnikov vs. the Anti-Sicilians: A Complete Repertoire for Black

By Evgeny Sveshnikov

New in Chess , 2014

ISBN: 9789056915452

There is an interesting interview with Evgeny Sveshnikov at the Chessdom website, here.

The publisher’s description of Sveshnikov vs. the Anti-Sicilians: A Complete Repertoire for Black by Evgeny Sveshnikov can be read here.


Written by P.P.O. Kane

December 5, 2016 at 2:11 pm

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