It is no secret that the Sicilian Defense occupies a huge percentage of the training and study time of the majority of chess players. Working out the mainlines of the most popular choices for black, memorizing forced variations or finding novelties in critical positions is all part of the day to day training.
Not only professional titled players and coaches, but also club players are nowadays well updated on the opening theory and, with good understanding of how to use technology, they can even develop their own ideas. But the question you have to ask yourself is what exactly is it that you want from your studies – to win a game or to find the ultimate truth behind one opening? In our opinion, a competitive mind should focus on winning the game, and, of course, the more games the better.
Therefore, from a practical point of view, long preparations and hours of analysis are hardly useful for the tournament player. It takes too much time and energy. The more time you spend on studying openings, the less time you have to work on other areas of the game. However, is up to each player to choose their method and work according to their time.
The sidelines and unusual moves have that surprise effect that can take your opponent quickly into an uncomfortable position and lead him to make mistakes or use too much of his time. The feeling of insecurity walking on unknown land will make your opponent wonder and doubt. In this article we are going to discuss a recent idea that has been working out very good for white. Believe it or not, the latest opening trend begins after:
1.e4 c5 2.Be2!?
It is not the first time white tries to shock the “Sicilian Mafioso” with an extravagant 2nd move. Not so long ago Zviaginsev played 2.Na3 against Khalifman, who could not avoid laughing at the board when he saw that move.
Note: In order to improve your play not only you need to study the openings but also you need to concentrate on positional understanding and endgame play.
If you want to learn how to play common endgames well, I suggest you checking out our premium training course where we spend a lot of time drilling most often occurring chess endings so that you will not have to guess on the winning approach, but simply would know how to win these positions:
However, the laugh did not last as Zviaginsev went on to win the game convincingly and 2.Na3 became fashionable and played by very strong Grandmasters like Malakhov. Another extravagant move is 2.a3!? employed by Mamedyarov, although it has never caught on too much.
Let’s go back to our subject, 2.Be2. The idea of this move, basically, is to be able to recapture on d1 with the bishop in case black executes the rupture d5 and dxe4. So what white wants is:
Also worth noticing is that in the event that black could play his knight to d4 once the white queen have gone to e1 (attacking e2 and c2), white can just answer with Bd1. This idea is borrowed from some systems in the Dutch Defense and has not been played much at GM level until recently, when GM Igor Kovalenko employed it twice (successfully) in the Najdorf Memorial.
We have to say that this idea had been played before by McShane, who won a massive game against Cheparinov in 2009. In that game white started with 2.d3 then 3.f4, 4.Nf3, 5.Be2 and so on. You can see this game here:
The theory of this system has yet to be written. However, Kovalenko’s games show the basics of white’s idea and therefore we will have a look into them.
As a conclusion, we would like to let the reader know that, while this system is not a promise for an opening advantage, it doesn’t lead to a worse position and neither does black have a direct way to punish 2.Be2. Therefore, it is just as playable as any other weapon at white’s disposal, but it has some fresh ideas and possibilities to play ”out of the book”. Good luck!
If you want to improve your chess level, you need to have a clear study plan. If you aim for a dramatic improvement at chess you need to work on all of the elements of the game in a systematic way:
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