||Play the 2 c3
Rozentalis & Harley
||ISBN: 1 901983
||Date: 8/10 2002
Play the 2. c3 Sicilian
A new book that enters the tradition of good books on the 1.e4 c5 2.c3 variation. Chandlers classic that has been published in two editions,
Gallagher's more recent, and now this manual by the very strong Lithuanian Grandmaster Rozentalis, who is a well known expert on this opening, and Andrew Harley an English amateur that has played and analysed this variation for many years.
The combination of a "big name" and an amateur that writes a book together is seen
before. Unfortunately it soon becomes visible in those books that the big names main job has been to allow the use of his name, while the amateur
is doing the hard work. Seeing this book I must admit I was a bit sceptical, no less when I saw that the Authors had each their introduction. They reveal nothing about the form and extent of their cooperation in writing the book, so there is no other way than to look closely at the result of their work.
However, let's already now reveal that the two Authors have done an excellent job here.
- Summary of Ideas (6 pages)
- Chapter 1: Alternatives to 2...e6, 2...d5 and 2...Nf6 (16 pages)
- Chapter 2: 2...e6 (13 pages)
- Chapter 3: 2...d5: Sidelines (10 pages)
- Chapter 4: 2...d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nc6 (21 pages)
- Chapter 5: 2...d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 and Other lines
- Chapter 6: 2...d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 (17 pages)
- Chapter 7: 2...Nf6: Sidelines (16 pages)
- Chapter 8: 2...Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nf3 e6 and Other moves
- Chapter 9: 2...Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bc4 Nb6 7.Bb3
- Chapter 10: 2...Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nf3 (13 pages)
The summary of Ideas is brief but very much to the point in discussing the strategic concepts of the different variations, and the psychological considerations behind the choice of which variation to play. One of the 2.c3 Sicilians strong points is actually
its reputation of being a boring drawing weapon. Black will often try to take risks the position can't hold in order to play for a win.
The book is very well researched with plenty of 2002-games. The number of suggestions and ideas by the authors is as far I can judge much larger than in the average opening book these days. A lot of dedicated work has obviously been put into this book.
There is only very few full games as it is custom in this series of opening books from Gambit Publications. It saves pages, and is fine with me, but that is of course a matter of taste.
A look at some of the variations
As a reader wrote in our forum section here at Seagaard Chessreviews, most books on the c3-sicilian is not really taking care about the importance of move orders
like 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 (or 2...e6) 3.c3 where black among others has been rubbed the opportunity to play
the popular variation with 1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4. That is a sad truth for Black, and he simply has to prepare a reply to that move order as well. There is no shortcut here as this book mentions. It is not an easy job to play the Sicilian!
For some years the theoretical status of the 2.c3 Sicilian has been that White gets some pressure, often in endgames, but that Black should be able to equalize with careful play. On the other hand,
it is clear that it is hard for Black to gain the initiative and play for a win. The set-ups advocated for White in this book is in several cases to go for small edge in the endgames after
for example 1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.dxc5!? or 1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.dxc5!? Both relative
recent ideas used by both the big expert Sveshnikov and Rozentalis himself. Ideas that as the
author's remarks need to be tested more and they are doing a good job guiding the research by giving analysis of
The major alternative 2...Nf6 is often leading to sharper play and is well covered in the book. Here is a small refinement where in a brand-new game given in Skakbladet 10/2002 Danish talent Rasmus Skytte went on to score his final IM-norm in a variation where Black becomes too ambitious:
Skytte - IM Gladyszev, 2002
1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bc4 Nb6 7.Bb3 g6!?
7....e6 is the safer mainline
8.Ng5 d5 9.exd6 e6 10.Qf3 Ne5 11.Qg3 Bg7 12.0-0 0-0 13.cxd4 Nc6 14.Rd1! h6 15.Nf3 Na5 16.Bc2 Bd7 17.Ne5 Rc8 18.Be4 Nd5
18...Bc6 19.Nxc6 Nxc6 20.Nc3 Nxd4 21.Kh1! Nc4 is given in the book following D. Pedersen - Aagaard 1999, and now 22.Bxh6! is better for white.
19.Qh3 Nf6 20.Bd3 h5 21.Nc3 Be8 22.Bg5! Qxd6 23.Qh4 Nd5 24.Nxd5 Qxd5 25.Be7 Bc6 26.Nxc6 Nxc6 27.Bxf8
and white went on to win.
An excellent book! It is very likely to make a new revival for the c3-Sicilian on all playing levels if this book will get the broad range of readers it deserves. As with most books on opening theory loaded with variations, it is mainly recommended for players above ELO
1600. It is even a book strong Grandmasters would want to read