Some lines of the Sicilian date back over a century like the Scheveningen or the Paulsen, but others were discovered more recently. One of the latter is the Sveshnikov variation (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5) as it is known in the West, which was discovered and analyzed by Evgeny Sveshnikov and Gennadi Timoshenko and their students in the Siberian city of Chelyabinsk. The line is in fact called the Chelyabinsk Variation in Russia and parts of Eastern Europe.
The sequence 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 dates back to the 19th century but it was only in the 1970s that it started to be seen regularly when the continuation 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 came to the fore. Now it is one of Black’s most popular and well-respected systems not far behind the Najdorf. While it probably helps that the Sveshnikov is not quite as heavily analyzed nor as strategically complex as its fellow Sicilian variation, its still requires solid preparation.
The man to provide it is San Diego International Master Cyrus Lakdawala, author of an introductory guide to this variation (The Sicilian Sveshnikov: Move by Move by Everyman Chess, 2016). He is now back with a more advanced work on the topic – Opening Repertoire: The Sveshnikov (Everyman Chess 2020, 320 pages, $27.95 www.everymanchess.com).
Here is what Lakdawala’s book does and does not cover.
Covered: All lines after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5
Earlier deviations by White after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 including 6.Nb3, 6.Nf3, 6.Nde2, 6.Nxc6 and 6.Nf5 – none of these are dangerous.
The trendy 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Nd5 , tested extensively in the 2018 World Championship match by Fabiano Caruana against Magnus Carlsen.
The attempt to sidestep the Sveshnikov by 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3. A number of top GMs now play 3…g6, offering to transpose into the Accelerated Dragon when White no longer has the possibility of steering into the Maroczy Bind. Lakdawala instead prefers 3…e5 which he dubs more “Sveshnikov-like”.
As a bonus Lakdawala analyses the little-known Mamba system – 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 Bc5, a personal favorite of the author which seems quite playable, particularly at the club level. One important discovery he points out is that Black can avoid the drawing line after 7.Nd6+ Ke7 8.Nf5+ Kf8 9.Be3 Bb4 10.Nd6 Qe7 11.Nf5 with 11…Qe6! (avoiding the draw) 12.Bd3 d5 13.exd5 Bxc3+ 14.bxc3 Qxd5 15.0-0 Bxf5 16.Bxf5 Qxd1 17.Rfxd1 g6 18.Bh6+ Ke7 19.Bd3 Nd5, reaching a dynamic ending where Black stands no worse. This is important as this line can also arise from the currently popular Sicilian Four Knights variation 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Ndb5 Bc5.