The Sicilian Defense is the most popular opening and one of the best responses to White’s first move 1.e4. The main reason for its popularity is its combative nature – Black fights not for equality, but for advantage. The Sicilian Defense begins with the moves: 1.e4 c5. Nevertheless, White also has some good opportunities in this opening. “White often obtains an early initiative, so Black has to take care not to fall victim to a quick attack”, said GM John Nunn. Therefore, it is a very good opening for both White and Black.
The opening is so popular that 17% of all games between grandmasters, and 25% of the games in the Chess Informant database, begin with the Sicilian. Therefore, almost one quarter of all chess games use the Sicilian Defense!
Sicilian Dragon variation
One of the popular variations of this opening is the Dragon Variation. In the Dragon Variation, Black fianchettoes his dark-squared (kingside) bishop. It arises after the following moves: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6
Although the Dragon bishop is mighty, Black needs to be careful because of White’s early attack on the kingside – with h5, and the queen-bishop battery’s motive to exchange the dragon bishop.
GM Christopher Ward – an Expert in the Sicilian Dragon
Today we’re going to see a game played by GM Christopher Ward, an Expert in the Sicilian Dragon variation. Ward won the British Chess Championship in 1996 and has also authored some well-written books in this variation, which were read by the current World Champion Magnus Carlsen!
In this game, you will learn about the powerful resources for Black in this variation, especially the mighty Dragon Bishop. Ward coordinated his pieces very well and played a stunning move at move no.17, which turned things over. You can watch the instructive video analysis of this amazing game by our guest coach CM Tryfon Gavriel:
What do you think about the Sicilian Defense? Do you play with or against this popular opening? Please feel free to share your thoughts (and even some of your own games in this opening) in the comments below.