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.
As I mentioned in the first post dealing with this opening, some of these variations can transpose. As the moves 4.Bxc6, 4.c3, and 4.0-0 are not mutually exclusive, the Rossolimo has the potential for fluid transpositions. Often, there are only a few ideas, and like the c3 Sicilian, the variations are not forcing but rather it is more of an “ideas” opening.
However, the move 4.c3 does open up some unique possibilities for white. By preparing to hit the center with a quick d4, white can quickly pressure black on the light squares, though the position can also transpose to a c3 Sicilian completely. By playing 4…Nf6, black beckons the white pawn to e5. This variation can be sharp when white pressures the f7 square with his queen and bishop, requiring black to do some gymnastics with his knights in order to keep up. The sample games below illustrate some ideas for both sides.
For anyone who plays the Sveshnikov Sicilian, or other Sicilians with 2…Nc6, a knowledge of the Rossolimo variation is crucial. The 3.Bb5(+) anti-Sicilians are extremely popular, and it’s impossible to play 1…c5 without encountering them. In this 3 part series, I’m going to look at some games and try to find some themes and ideas for both sides in this variation. The three posts will revolve around positions where white plays (1) Bxc6 (2) c3 and/or (3) 0-0. Naturally, many of these lines transpose, and so I will look for games that reflect ideas unique to these positions.
The great thing about the Rossolimo from white’s perspective is that the variations tend not to be as forcing as some other lines of the Sicilian, and so white can play a maneuvering game and decide upon piece placement and long term positional plans. The following game illustrates an idea for white that I rather like. It’s a stylish knight maneuver that clamps down on the center, played by our hometown hero Yudasin. I’m not sure whether he was the first to play this idea or not, but this was the first game I found with this knight maneuver when searching for ideas for white. While Kramnik is able to draw here, I think that Yudasin’s idea of Nd2-c4-e3 is worth its weight in gold, particularly in a blitz game where black might not have the time to reckon with the activity of this wonderfully placed knight.