The Sicilian defence is undoubtedly the most popular opening in modern chess, to such an extent that it makes up a quarter of all games in the Chess Informant database. It is the most successful of all Black's defences to 1.e4, although this success has resulted in the opening accumulating a large body of opening theory. First analysed by Italian players in the 16th century, the Sicilian was considered an unorthodox opening throughout the 19th century, and even into the 20th century as 1.e4 e5 and 1.d4 d5 remained the most popular way to open the game. It wasn't until the 1940s and 1950s, when many dynamic openings such as the King's Indian were being explored, that the Sicilian defence took centre stage. Since then, its popularity has never declined.
Games starting with the Sicilian defence are divided into two broad categories - the Open Sicilians, where white plays a quick Nf3 and d4 and attempts to open the position to take advantage of Black's slow development (as the move 1... c5 does nothing to help develop Black's pieces), and the Anti-Sicilians, which consist of various other systems played by White to avoid the huge amount of theory associated with the Open Sicilian. In this tutorial, we will be looking at the Open Sicilian, while the Anti-Sicilians will be covered separately.
Although such a hugely complicated opening as the Najdorf could never be covered adequately in 20 games, never mind two, these examples should illustrate the cutthroat attacks that can arise.
Here are some examples of attack and counter attack in the Sicilian Dragon from master play.
Here are some examples of the tactical chaos that can arise in the Sveshnikov.
Here are some grandmaster games to illustrate how play can develop in the Taimanov variation.