Sveshnikov vs. The Anti-Sicilians

A Complete Repertoire for Black

Evgeny Sveshnikov

Reviewer: John Donaldson
272 pages

The Dutch publishing firm New in Chess was started over thirty years ago (1984), but is still going strong as evidenced by a recent offering.

SVESHNIKOV VS. THE ANTI-SICILIANS: A COMPLETE REPERTOIRE FOR BLACK by Evgeny Sveshnikov offers answers to all of White’s divergences from the Open Sicilian and 3.Bb5 (+). These ranges from the exotic – 2.a3 and 2.Na3, to gambit lines – 2.d4 and 2.b4. Also examined are 2.b3, 2.c4, 2.g3, 2.d3, 2.c3, 2.f4, 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5/3.f4/3.g3/3.Nge2/and 3.Nf3.

Sveshnikov, famous for answering the Sicilian with 2.c3 and later 2.f4, and meeting 1.e4 with the Sicilian variation that bears his name, is the perfect person to write this book, the first in a planned trilogy. The latter two will cover 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5! (exclamation mark Sveshnikov) and 3.Bb5! (ditto Sveshnikov). He considers the Rossolimo to be White’s strongest try for an advantage.

SVESHNIKOV VS. THE ANTI-SICILIANS is particularly strong on the line 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 e5, which Sveshnikov believes is the right way to play for Black – 3…Nf6 4.Bb5 favoring White in his estimation. After 3…e5 4.Bc4 Be7 5.d3 Nf6 (or 5…d6) he examines both 6.Nd2 (intending Nf1-e3 fighting for d5) and 6.Ng5 0-0 7.f4 trying to attack on the kingside.

Against his old favorite, 2.c3, Sveshnikov believes 2…Nf6 is best as unlike 2…d5 it gives Black the chance to take over the initiative if White plays inaccurately. After 2…Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 d6 6.Bc4 Nb6 7.Bc4 he recommends 7…dxe5!? though he believes 7…Nb6 is stronger – both moves seem quite playable. Sveshnikov covers 7…Nb6 in great depth in his massive tome on the Alapin published by NIC.

One surprise is Sveshnikov’s advocacy of 3…e5 against the Smith-Morra (1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3). He could have just suggested 2…Nf6 transposing to the 2.c3 Sicilian and skipped this chapter. Instead he recommends an old fashioned variation that can transpose to the anti-Petroff line 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 c5 4.c3. Black’s idea is that after 4.cxd4 exd4 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Nxd4 Nf6 7.Nc3 Bb4 he gets a very playable position akin to the Scotch Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 – minus the c-pawns). Marc Esserman, in his award winning book MAYHEM IN THE MORRA, agrees that Black is fine and recommends 4.Bc4 Nc6 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Ng5 d5 7.exd5 Nxd5 8.Qb3 Be6 9.Nxe6 fxe6 10.Qxb7 Rc8 11.0-0 Be7 12.Qa6 0-0 13.Nd2 with a slight advantage for White. Sveshnikov proposes instead that Black vary with 5…Qc7 meeting 6.0-0 Nf6 7.Ng5 Nd8 8.Qb3 Ne6 9.cxd4 Nxd4! and Black is doing fine. 3…e5 deserves more tests.

Sicilian players looking for a one volume work dedicated to combating anti-Sicilian variations will find SVESHNIKOV VS. THE ANTI-SICILIANS: A COMPLETE REPERTOIRE FOR BLACK, just the thing they need.