The Sicilian Defense is the most popular and fun opening in chess. It leads to exciting positions, never makes you bored and its combative nature attracts millions of chess fans of any level. When top-level grandmasters need to win with Black pieces, they use the Sicilian in most of the cases. And it is the best-scoring response after White’s first move 1.e4! Perhaps everyone thought about adding this marvelous Defense (or maybe “Attack”?) to their repertoire. But which line of the Sicilian to choose?
The most popular variations are the Najdorf, the Sveshnikov, the Dragon, the Scheveningen, and some others. But all of them are deeply analyzed and require a lot of preparation and memorization of precise moves. It doesn’t sound fun at all! Isn’t there an easier way?
In the Lowenthal Sicilian, Black trades their dark-squared bishop for a knight and seemingly gives up important squares in the center but in exchange gets quick development and often takes the initiative by pushing …d7-d5 early. If you are not afraid of endgames, like playing with knights, and enjoy interesting chess then read below about more reasons to try it!
Teimour Radjabov wasn’t afraid of using it against World Champion Magnus Carlsen and made a draw. Chinese top Grandmaster Li Chao has been playing the Lowenthal for a few years and made this variation popular.
We can also mention some other famous theoreticians and strong grandmasters who go for this line from time to time: Alexander Motylev, Igor Glek, Evgeny Postny, Sanan Sjugirov, Anna Muzychuk, and others.
The Lowenthal is not a deeply researched line. It’s much easier to learn than the other Sicilian variations such as the Najdorf, the Dragon, or the Sveshnikov.
White players spend most of the time preparing for the Najdorf or the Dragon variations and have no time to prepare well for rare lines. Most of the club-level players even have never heard about the Lowenthal!
If your opponent plays the mainline of the Sicilian with 2.Nf3 and 3.d4, he cannot avoid the Lowenthal. Your starting moves are forcing which restricts White’s choice. Although amateurs often have no idea how to react already after Black’s move 4. And a wrong decision allows Black to fight for the initiative immediately.
In most of the Sicilian variations, both sides attack and try to checkmate their opponent first. And White wins the race quite often. You should have strong nerves to play in such positions. In the Lowenthal Variation, both sides usually castle the same side and because of the specifics of the pawn structure, it is only Black who usually keeps plans of attacking the enemy king.
The Lowenthal pawn structures are common to the Najdorf and the Sveshnikov variations. That means that you can use similar ideas and plans in different variations. In the future, it is going to be easier for you to add more variations to your Sicilian arsenal.
In the Lowenthal variation, White can exchange queens quite early. If you like endgames it’s already good for you. Those who rarely enjoy playing without queens could also be satisfied by this certain endgame because in general Black’s plans there are simple.
People who play 1.e4 and then enter the main lines of the Sicilian usually look for aggressive play and sharp attacks but in the Lowenthal, they will rather need to make many positional and strategic decisions. Great chances to outplay them!
Black’s plans are similar in most of the lines, while for White, it is often not so easy to find the best squares for the minor pieces.
White players usually meet more popular lines of the Sicilian and know what to do there. With the Lowenthal, you will gain a home-field advantage.
In this brand-new course, FM Zaur Tekeyev shares with you all the subtitles, plans, and modern ideas of the Lowenthal variation. The course also covers in detail all of White’s sidelines starting from move 2, such as the Rossolimo, the Alapin, the Closed Sicilian, and others, making you ready to meet 1.e4 with 1…c7-c5 confidently!