Sicilian Rossolimo Part III: 4.0-0

In our third installment on the Rossolimo anti-sicilian, we turn to the variation 4.0-0. This move is probably the most common, since it rapidly develops white’s kingside and seeks information from black. When I play the Rossolimo with the white pieces, this is the variation that I favor. Below, I will outline a unique idea for white which might be objectively worse but has given me great practical chances over the board. Keeping in mind that all of the ideas presented in the earlier two posts are equally relevant here considering the wealth of transpositional possibilities in this variation, I would like to look at the following position as the main starting tabiya for this post. This position occurs after the moves: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4.0-0 Bg7 5.Re1, when black has several moves at his disposal, though the two most common choices are either the solid e5, or the dynamic Nf6.

Here, black’s two main moves are e5 or Nf6, though a6, d6, and even e6 may also be playable. Rogozenko recommends e5 for black, which leads to solidity and straightforward plans, such as those outlined in the games below. However, I have saved this variation for the last post of the series because of a plan which I love for white. The plan I favor for white leaves white slightly worse according to my engine, and I can’t find any gm games with this plan in my database, however, practically it has served me well. I like to retreat the bishop back to f1, and fianchetto it, castling immediately. This may seem anti-positional, moving the same bishop three times in the opening, and it is, but you have to also think about how black will likely waste a few moves with his kingside knight, not to mention the avenues that white has denied black by entering the rossolimo variation in the first place. Long term plans then resemble the mainlines, with white playing d3, and Nbd2. The position then resembles the King’s Indian Attack. Solid, simple, and without weaknesses, it’s the kind of position I imagine Kamsky turning into a win against almost anyone.

A basic sketch of white’s ideas might look something like this:

However, as I mentioned, exchanging on c6 is a much more common route for the bishop, and is probably objectively much stronger. The games below

The following game collection