Chess Opening Theory/1. e4/1...c5/2. c3

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Sicilian:Alapin Variation
a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position in Forsyth-Edwards Notation (FEN)

rnbqkbnr/pp1ppppp/8/2p5/4P3/2P5/PP1P1PPP/RNBQKBNR

Sicilian:Alapin Variation[edit]

White plays c3 with the aim of avoiding the classic Sicilian lines. As both the Closed Sicilian and Open Sicilian have been extensively studied, their use involves a lot of theory to become comfortable with them. This means low- and mid-rated players (up to Club level) would not be familiar with all the variations of the Sicilian lines, and are prone to traps and gambits. IM Levy Rozman has even recommended not learning the Sicilian until the player is ELO 2000[1].

The Alapin is known as the ‘anti-Sicilian’[2] as it primarily stems Black’s initiative, and helps White gain control of the d4 square.

Named after Semyon Alapin, the opening didn’t become popular until the latter 20th century. It was initially thought that the response 2 ...d5 was too strong a position for Black, but modern analysis has shown it to be more favourable for White[3].

Black’s response[edit]

Since White’s intention with 2.c3 is to then later play d4, Black’s response aims to disrupt this central control.

2 ...d5 used to be the default response, and is still very playable for Black. After 3.exd5 then 3 ...Qxd5, giving Black fast central control and quicker development. Notably, White is unable to bring their knight to c3 as the square is occupied by the c pawn.

2 ...Nf6 has gained popularity. Although not as aggressive for Black, it allows for a more solid structure going into the midgame. The main line follows with 3. e5 Nd5 (3 ...Ne4 is a mistake, as it allows 4. d3, leading to capture of the knight).

2 ...d6 and 2 ...e6 are less common openings, but still playable.

Theory table[edit]

For explanation of theory tables see theory table and for notation see algebraic notation.

1. e4 c5 2. c3
2 3 4 5
c3
Nf6
e5
Nd5
d4
cxd4
Nf3
Nc6
=
...
d5
exd5
Qxd5
d4
Nf6
Nf3
Bg4
=
...
g6
d4
cxd4
cxd4
d5
e5
Bg7
=
...
e6
d4
d5
exd5
exd5
Nf3
Nc6
+/=

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References[edit]

  • Batsford Chess Openings 2 (1989, 1994). Garry Kasparov, Raymond Keene. ISBN 0-8050-3409-9.
  • Nunn's Chess Openings. 1999. John Nunn (Editor), Graham Burgess, John Emms, Joe Gallagher. ISBN 1-8574-4221-0.