Sicilian Defense (introduction, ideas & variations) ⎸Chess Openings

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The Sicilian Defense is the most aggressive way for black to fight for an advantage against 1.e4. Unlike the classical e5, or g6, d6, e6 or c6, 1…c5 gives black a whole different repertoire of attacking options and lets him choose the direction in which the game will go.

This is an introductory video to the Sicilian Defense, and its purpose is to give you an idea of what the opening is about, which are the main plans for both sides, which are the upsides and the downsides for black and for white. It also covers all the variations briefly. A detailed separate video will be made on each variation.

The Sicilian Defense occurs as soon as black plays c5. White’s second move greatly influences what the game will be like. White can choose between several options; 2. Nf3 (the main line and the most common move), 2. Nc3 (the Closed Sicilian), 2. c3 (the Alapin or the c3 Sicilian), 2. f4, 2. d4 and several others.

Here are the main variations covered in the video:

14:49 2. Nf3
2…d6 (5. Nc3, f3 (Prins); 5…a6 Najdorf, 5…g6 Dragon, 5…Nc6 Classical, 5…e6 Scheveningen
2…Nc6 Old Sicilian (4…Nf6 Open, 4…g6 Accelerated Dragon, 4…e5 Loewenthal
2…e6 (3. d4, 3. c4 Kramnik; 4…Nc6 Paulsen, 4…a6 Kan, 4…Nf6 French: 5…Nc6 Four Knights, 5…Bb4 Pin)
2…g6 Hyperaccelerated Dragon
2…a6 O’Kelly
2…Nf6 Nimzowitsch

06:12 2. Nc3 (Closed Sicilian) 2…Nc6
3. g6 Fianchetto, 3. Bb5, 3. f4 Grand Prix

09:55 2. c3 Alapin 2…Nf6, 2…d5
12:20 2. f4 McDonnell Attack
13:04 2. d4 Smith-Morra Gambit

There are a lot of games and players to study if you would like to master the Sicilian. Perhaps the strongest Sicilian player today is Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. His Najdorf repertoire is enough to get you to FM level (and it will take you a few years to study it). In separate videos on each variation I’ll name a couple of key players whose games should be studied. For now, start with MVL.

307 Comments

  1. Please stay the same even if your subscribers increase.

  2. What's wrong with 2.d6 against the Closed Sicilian?

  3. very well made video, i will be watching this many times over lol

  4. Stephon, you are awesome; encyclopedic even! almost any variation of any opening i want to learn, you have a detailed explanation that guides one to a balanced middlegame, complete with sidelines, mainlines and personal opinions. you are very thorough; the two times i have faced situations you havent covered, i am simply lost (not completely, i looked up games like you often advise). which is why i am asking you to add a video covering the Chekhover variation to this amazing Sicilian playlist. many thanks!

  5. God bless you, and keep up the GREAT work!

  6. 0:00 Intro

    6:11 2.Nc3 (Closed Sicilian)
    6:46 3.g3 (Fianchetto Variation)
    7:36 3.Bb5
    8:48 3.f4 (Grand Prix)

    9:55 2.c3 (Alapin)
    10:20 2…Nf6
    11:37 2…d5

    12:12 2.f4 (McDonnell Attack)
    13:00 2.d4 (Smith-Morra Gambit)

    14:45 2.Nf3

    15:13 2…d6
    15:41 5.f3 (Prins Variation)
    18:15 5…a6 (Najdorf Variation)
    19:16 5…g6 (Dragon Variation)
    20:14 5…Nc6 (Classical Variation)
    21:00 5…e6 (Scheveningen Variation)

    22:45 2…Nc6 (Old Sicilian)
    23:32 4…Nf6 (Open)
    24:21 4…g6 (Accelerated Dragon)
    26:42 4…e5 (Löwenthal Variation)

    28:27 2…e6
    28:40 3.c4 (Kramnik Variation)
    29:38 3.Nc3
    30:02 3.d4
    30:24 4…Nc6 (Paulsen [Taimanov] Variation)
    31:01 4…a6 (Kan Variation)
    32:03 4…Nf6 (French Variation)
    32:10 5…Nc6 (Four Knights Varation)
    33:11 5…Bb4 (Pin Variation)

    34:53 2…g6 (Hyperaccelerated Dragon)
    36:02 2…a6 (O'Kelly Variation)
    37:14 2…Nf6 (Nimzowitsch Variation)

  7. at the beginning you sound so tired as you explain how many variations there is in the Sicilian haha

  8. Incredibly awesome video for anyone trying to decide what Sicilian they want to be!

  9. I feel like this is a great chess tutorial, but it just goes a little bit too fast for me. Like, yeah it does have some good moves, but slow down a bit I'm trying to learn the theory not speedrun chess

  10. Thank you so much this video is very helpful and I strongly support your channel

  11. Why not play knight b3 in lowenthal variation after e5? Stockfish depth 30 says its better idk why it's not

  12. I love this guy…such a great teacher…these videos help a ton keep em coming

  13. This was a really concise and yet thorough introduction. Very helpful. Nicely focused on giving information, not trying to entertain. Just want I need. Looking forward to going through your other workshops. Thanks!

  14. I found this video and playlist important to me, so I need to invest my period in learning and practicing on this channel by saying that I have already liked the video and subscribed to get more from you. am a beginner but hoping to learn and enhance my progress.

  15. Hello I'm a new student and a beginner in chess can you please give me a link or list down the learning roadmap of courses and lessons I can learn in order to enhance my progress.

  16. Hi Elon Musk, did you bought chess?

  17. Rick Astley is the best chess player (I am subscribed)

  18. People don't really appreciate how lucky we are that Elon Musk himself is teaching us chess theory.

  19. anche detto il match per chi ottiene un cancro più velocemente

  20. Will you make a video about the b3 sicillian because there aren't a lot of videos on that opening on YouTube?

  21. So I've known about your Chanel for a while, but I am officially taking you as my master today, it's an honor to be your student.

  22. You would have got nowhere as a German spy in wartime Holland pronouncing "Scheveningen" like that. Good video though!

  23. Thank you Sir a lot for these videos. I am seeing all these videos almost after 4 years but its still helping me a lot. Most of the other chess youtubers don't cover the opening theories in as much depth as you do. Excellent work!!

  24. Thanks so much man, the best channel ever. Saludos desde Uruguay.

  25. I am a intermediate chess player who plays for fun but now I want to upgrade myself in chess and I am learning the sicilian defense for opening as black and Ruy lopez for white and I am learning them from your channel and your videos are the most detailed and perfect to become master in chess

  26. You're one of the best Youtube chess channels, especially for openings.

  27. Have you ever done a more in depth video on the the Loewenthal? The only videos/studies I've found online suggests 5 …a6. Yours makes more sense and looks like something I could play, I'd just like to go deeper with it.

  28. Between you and John Bartholomew, you are giving out such amazing information. Thank you so much brother

  29. It's funny to hear Scheveningen pronounced in a Russian sounding way haha.
    It's a Dutch word. Scheveningen is part of The Hague, where our parliament resides. According to Wikipedia this variation got its name from this district because the variation first came to international attention when it was played here several times during a tournament there.

    If you want to know how to pronounce it in the Dutch way look at this video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVNPeRKqRL8&ab_channel=AmericanPronunciationGuide
    Not all pronunciations sounds correct to me but the 2nd and 3d example in the video are exactly like how we pronounce it.

    If you learn to pronounce it this way you'll happiliy surprise some Dutchies, because the 'sch' sound in Dutch is notoriously difficult for English speaking people to pronounce.

  30. hello guys this guy is one of the best theory student on the internet . his study is indepth and very large. it may be difficult to extract the pgn tree of the repertoires so that you can train against them . but guess what i have do that for you . but guys you have to buy me lunch first please hit me up

  31. hello guys this guy is one of the best theory student on the internet . his study is indepth and very large. it may be difficult to extract the pgn tree of the repertoires so that you can train against them . but guess what i have do that for you . but guys you have to buy me lunch first please hit me up

  32. It is also said that this Sicilian is called this because the Ag7 is a dragon in its lair ready to hurl blasts of fire at the white king.

  33. Wonderful video, you did forget 2. Be2! it's a pretty good surprise attacking weapon for beginners to avoid any theory.

  34. What about the bowlder attack my opponent always respond with that stupid move

  35. First of alI, I want to thank you for each of your deep analysis.Especially for Cathalon and Banko gambit. You are the best chess YouTuber just keep going.Greetings from Bulgaria and again thanks a lot Stephan❤❤❤.

  36. 2…d6
    3. f3 Prins 15:40
    5…a6 Najdorf 18:14
    5…g6 Dragon 19:14
    5…Nc6 Classical 20:12
    5…e6 Scheveningen 21:00

    2…Nc6 Old Sicilian 22:44
    4…Nf6 open old Sicilian 23:30
    4…g6 Accelerated Dragon 24:20
    4…e5 Loewenthal 26:38

    2…e6 French variation 28:28
    3. c4 Kramnik variation 28:36
    3. d4 mainline 30:00
    4…Nc6 Paulsen variation 30:22
    4…a6 Kan 31:00
    4…Nf6 French 32:02 5…Nc6 four knights 32:10
    5…Bb4 Pin variation 33:02

    2…g6 Hyperaccelerated Dragon 34:48
    2…a6 O’Kelly 36:00
    2…Nf6 Nimzowitsch 37:14

    2. Nc3 Closed Sicilian 2…Nc6 6:10
    3. g3 fianchetto variation 6:45
    3. Bb5 7:35
    3. f4 Grand Prix 8:47

    2. c3 Alapin 9:54
    2…Nf6 10:15
    2…d5 11:36

    2. f4 McDonnell attack 12:15

    2. d4 Smith-Morra gambit 13:00

  37. This is blablabla unlike other chess bloger igor ismirnov

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