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Ultimate Closed Sicilian from "Batsford"

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Title: The Ultimate Closed Sicilian Author: Gary Lane
Language: Pages: 176
Cover: Paperback Published: 2001
Publisher: Batsford Homepage:
Price: £ 14,99 ISBN: 0-7134-8687-2
Reviewed by: Soren Sogaard Date: 10/3 2002



The Ultimate Closed Sicilian

The Closed Sicilian has been a very popular weapon for British players in many years. But the opening that starts with 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 was also played by former World Champions like Smyslov and Spassky. In later years top players like Adams, Short and Ivanchuk has used it as a very successful weapon even at top level. So this new book from Gary Lane is a very welcome update from his previous book from 1992 "Winning with The Closed Sicilian".

Let's take a look at a new game from the match Short-Stefansson (4½-1½), and see for our self that the Closed Sicilian is very much alive!

Short - Stefansson
Match Reykjavik (5), 12.01.2002
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.Be3 Bd7 7.f4 b5 8.a3 Nf6 9.Nf3 0–0 10.h3 Rb8 11.0–0 a5 12.g4 Ne8 13.Rb1 b4 14.axb4 axb4 15.Ne2 Nc7 16.f5 Nb5 17.Qd2 Nbd4 18.Nexd4 Nxd4 19.Bh6 Nxf3+ 20.Rxf3 Ra8 21.Bxg7 Kxg7 22.d4 Qb6 23.e5 dxe5 24.dxe5 Bc6 25.f6+ exf6 26.Rxf6 c4+ 27.Kh2 Rac8 28.Rbf1 Qc5 29.Qf4 Be8 30.h4 Rd8 31.h5 Rd4 32.h6+ Kg8 33.Qe3 Rd5 34.Qxc5 Rxc5 35.e6 Re5 36.Bd5 Rxd5 37.e7 Re5 38.Rxg6+ 1–0



  • Main Games  (1 page)
  • Introduction  (5 pages)
  • Chapter 1:  6.Be3 e6 New Main Line  (20 pages)
  • Chapter 2:  6.Be3 Nf6  (7 pages) 
  • Chapter 3:  6.Be3 Rb8  (6 pages)
  • Chapter 4:  6.Be3 e5  (10 pages)
  • Chapter 5:  5...e6 6.Be3  (5 pages)
  • Chapter 6:  6.f4 e6 Main Line  (15 pages)
  • Chapter 7:  6.f4 e5  (25 pages)
  • Chapter 8:  6.f4 Nf6 Kasparov System  (10 pages)
  • Chapter 9:  Systems with Nge2  (21 pages)
  • Chapter 10:  Systems with Nh3  (9 pages)
  • Chapter 11:  Systems with Nf3  (6 pages)
  • Chapter 12:  French Defence set-up  (16 pages)
  • Chapter 13:  2.g3  (14 pages)
  • Index of Variations  (3 pages)


The French set-up

To call the book "The Ultimate Closed Sicilian" is perhaps a little to much, and as usual Gary Lane has written a book that is very much up and down ;-) As an example of the latter I will show you Lane's weapon against the French set-up:

Stroud 1980
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.g3 d5 4.exd5 exd5 5.d4
  Here I saw some reviewers give this move an ! At best I think it only gives white a very small advantage, and Lane doesn't give this move any remarks.
5...cxd4 6.Qxd4 Nxf6 7.Bg5 Be7 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.Qc5!

This position is a reversed Göring Gambit Declined, and the variation is one of the reasons that White doesn't play The Göring any more. The next moves Lanes uses to talk about how Nunn feared this move, and how Nunn has to avoid a draw in this weekend tournament. Very nice to know, but instead I would have liked if he instead examined the move 10...Qb6 that is a major alternative to the move played (10...Bxc3). The moveorder 10...Qb6 11.Qxb6 Bxc3 isn't mentioned in neither Lane nor Emms book although this maybe should be considered as the "Main Line" in this variation.

In "Attacking with e4" Emms rightly says about this variation that "In the Closed Sicilian the extra move for White is g2-g3, which in some lines is probably a slight hindrance." I fully agree with Emms, just think about a move like Bg4 in some variations. Please a little more theory here Lane!

Now I'm talking about "the French set-up", I couldn't find the move order 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.g3 d5 4.exd5 exd5 5.Bg2 d4!? The theory is a bit rough on this move, but maybe things aren't as clear as Emms also mentions in his book. And this move is indeed played by many black players, and I really miss it in this book.


Much better!

Lane is doing a much better job in other variations like:
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.Be3 Rb8 7.Qd2 e6 8.Nf3 Nd4?!

  A very natural move and White can earn a lot of points by reading Lane's book! The main variation follows the game Kovalevskaya-Arakhamia:
9.Bxd4! cxd4 10.Nb5 Qb6 11.Qb4 Kd7 12.e5! dxe5 13.Nd2 a5 14.Qa4 Kd8 15.Nc4 Qa6 16.Qa3!

I think that this game refutes Black's 8...Nd4 (especially after 18.Qc5 mentioned below) in this variation, and this chapter is a good example of how good this book is when it is best! Very nice analysed variations that should keep you on the right track! Oh, maybe I have to mention that after 16...Bd7 17.Nbd6 Bf8 18.Nxb7 Lane writes "Kovalevskaya is spoilt for choice because 18.Qc5 is an excellent Alternative." Well I think Lane after looking a little more at the position would have written "18.Qc5!" 18.Qc5! is in fact a killer, and I will leave it the reader to find out what Black should play!!


The variation 2.g3

At the end of the book Lane also gives another way of playing the Closed Sicilian: 1.e4 c5 2.g3. Here I would like you to watch out for: 1.e4 c5 2.g3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Bg2 Qe6+ 6.Kf1 Bh3!? (6...Nc6 is to be recommended!) 7.b4! which is a lot of fun for White ;-)

A book that maybe not is the "ultimate" book about the Closed Sicilian, but nonetheless I will recommend it to people who plays this opening. Lane has done a nice job, although he in some variations could have made a more thorough investigation! There are not many books about the Closed Sicilian around, so this book should be much awaited. Recommend for players up to ELO 2300.



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