Two Interesting c3 Sicilians

While we’re waiting for Sveshnikov’s book “The Complete c3 Sicilian” to come out, I thought I would offer this interesting c3 Sicilian I played recently on a correspondence chess website. In it, we follow the current mainline pretty deep, reaching a fascinating middle game. Comments in the notation.

The following game is another c3 sicilian which, despite lively play, ends in a draw. I play in the New York Commercial Chess League, which was started back in the 1920’s by some guys at ConEdison and has been going annually ever since. It’s surprisingly large, well organized, and competitive, with teams made up mostly of friends and co-workers. I play on the “tea lounge team,” a reference to a coffee shop in Park Slope where some friends meet and play blitz on Friday nights. Definitely come out if you’re ever in NYC.

In this game, I had the white pieces and played a c3 sicilian. Incredibly, I didn’t make a single mistake throughout the game according to my engine (Hiarcs), though I did miss a few opportunities to press for a larger advantage. The game ended in a draw, which I was happy with, since I’m just getting my feet wet in the c3 sicilian and I understand that a c3 player has to have a high tolerance for draws.

In the opening, I decided to sacrifice a pawn with the push d5. I think black should play 6…d5 transposing to a french instead of Qb6, and I thought that I would achieve a nice lead in development if he tried to gang up on my knight on c3, which he did. This plan more or less worked out as I hoped. Obviously, his move Kd8 was unnecessary, Be7 preparing to castle was totally playable. I was expecting to lose another pawn as well after 12.0-0, he had the opportunity to exchange on c3 and pick up another pawn. My engine shows this as leaving white slightly better despite being down two pawns, and my opponent probably declined to take because he sensed that falling so far behind in development wasn’t worth two pawns when his king was still stuck in the center of the board. 17.b4 was a slight inaccuracy because he can play Ne5 immediately here, forcing exchanges that i would rather put off. Qd3 was better. I was thinking that i didn’t want to commit my other rook just yet, and would like to first make some progress on the queenside. Obviously the pawn is immune from capture because if Nxb4 then check on e7 would pick up the knight.

My computer doesn’t offer any advice on my 21.Qxh6, which means that it isn’t incorrect. However, my gut tells me that keeping the liv tylers on the board is probably a better practical plan, as my opponent had a wretched position to squirm out of and I should probably have held his feet to the fire hoping for a mistake, such as b6.

I have to admit, I was surprised by my opponents ability to survive this ending. I liked his move 22…b5, which freed his position and bought a crucial tempo. Naturally, if Bxb5, then Rb8 and his play on the queenside comes to life.

30…Ke8 is a mistake, since Rc6 equalizes immediately, though I failed to capitalize on this opportunity when i followed up with the safe 31.Kf1. 31.f4! was called for, when the position will open in white’s favor. I briefly considered this move, though it looked too unclear for my taste and I wasn’t interested in risking losing, so I chickened out.

Once we entered the rook ending, from move 31. on, the play is perfect and follows the exact line that my engine “thought” of when i plugged in the position. Overall, I’m pleased with this game, and thought I would share it with you because it is an anomaly for me to play 43. straight moves without a single question mark being made. If you see any ideas or plans that I missed or should have considered, please tell me in the comments. Thanks.