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Saturday, October 29, 2011

GM Alex Yermolinsky On the Sicilian

“Chessplayers study openings to get favorable middlegame positions…it is much better to take on some openings that will serve you well for years to come than to restrict yourself to primitive setups designed to avoid theory.”

“There is no ‘chess made easy’ advice that would immediately improve your chess.  Widely disseminated promises to introduce ‘new methods’, to reveal ‘secrets of the Soviet School of Chess’, etc. are no more than smart advertising moves.”
“You know what happens when you’re mastering the Sicilian Defense, for example…many hours of work are invested into studying the main lines…and when you finally feel ready you get no chance to show your stuff…game after game you get to see side variations such as the Alapin (2.c3), the Closed Variation (with g3), the Gran Prix Attack (early f4), and the Rossolimo (3.Bb5). “

“While each of these lines may present its own positional and tactical implications, they can be successfully dealt with…whenever I see this weak stuff played against me I feel my confidence growing…statistics only prove the point.  Black scores at least 50%in those lines in today’s practice.”

“As a matter of fact, Black’s life is much easier in any secondary continuation after 1.e4 c5, rather than the Open Sicilian…where his position gets challenged in the most principled way.  Don’t shift your priorities – prepare for real battles.

“This doesn’t mean that the modern sophisticated openings are for GM’s only and that less experienced players should stick with offbeat lines.  On the contrary, I urge you to play the most complicated opening setups, but on one condition: you should play them not for fashion’s sake and not because somebody told you to, but because of the resulting middlegame positions.”

If you really want to study chess the way GM’s do, buy Yermolinsky’s The Road to Chess Improvement and let a Grandmaster show you what and how to study. In his review of the book, IM Jeremy Silman wrote, “I should mention that it is primarily aimed at advanced players, but it could not fail to help those above 1600. For anyone looking to improve and to understand the modern game in a fresh way, I believe that this is one of the most exciting and provocative works to appear in years.”

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