An Antidote for Sideline Sicilians

As a Sicilian player, there are a number of sidelines I hate to see. 2.c3 doesn’t really bother me, since I play that myself and know the system well, but when white plays 2.Nc3, concealing his intentions and waiting for me to commit, I sometimes find myself playing a position I’m not terribly pleased with, particularly if white then goes in for a grand prix attack. Generally, I play the Sveshnikov, which means I have to be prepared for a Rossolimo as well, but for some reason the grand prix attack bothers me while the Rossolimo hasn’t posed me any issues. I know the ideas behind the grand prix, I sometimes play it myself, but that wall of pawns is menacing and if I’ve already committed myself to certain piece placements then my dark squares become weak and I feel like a sitting duck to obvious attacking plans. Well… I will never suffer such passivity again. 2…a6! is the answer! This bit of wisdom was imparted to me by Asa Hoffman recently, and in the few blitz sessions I have played recently I can tell you that it has helped me get over the grand prix hurdle. It basically invites white to play a Closed Sicilian, when black is able to get rapid expansion on the queen-side with a nice solid position with moves like: b5, e6, Ne7, and then break with d5 and you’re equal.

This idea of a useful but non-committal waiting move is so obvious I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself. Naturally, if white wishes to play an open sicilian you may chose to go into a Kan or Taimanov. These two games illustrate the basic ideas, but any Sicilian player probably sees my point from the above text alone. 2.Nc3 has been recommended by a number of publications recently, and I can tell you that several of my friends play it exclusively when approaching the Sicilian with white.