Friday, 27 August 2010

All things being Scheveningen!

Sicilian Defence: Classical Scheveningen
Today I am pleased to be able to bring readers the first of what I hope will become a regular series of study posts on opening theory. The objective of these features is to:

1.) Explore the strategic ideas behind an opening variation rather than advocate the memorisation of long sequences of moves

2.) Make the openings feel more approachable by analysing them through the games of Hebden Bridge chess club members rather than Grandmasters.

3.) Provide some inspiration for newer HBCC members (and experienced players looking for new ideas) to have fun with some of the game’s most interesting opening lines!

We begin this new series with Nick Sykes’ expedition into the Classical Scheveningen variation of the Sicilian Defence.

“The Scheveningen has the reputation of being a solid line of the Sicilian that creates no unnecessary pawn weaknesses and so its structure is basically sound. The variation became particularly popular after Garry Kasparov's 1985 World Championship Match win over Anatoly Karpov in which Kasparov utilised the Scheveningen to great effect. I myself have played the opening, on and off, for about 15 years and enjoyed some interesting games with it. Let’s get straight into some analysis of the key lines using a stem game that I played on the correspondence chess website Redhotpawn last year.”

"So, how should we assess this interesting variation of the Sicilian Defence? In my opinion the Scheveningen requires a lot of deep understanding and expertise to be played successfully by black at a high level. However, at a club level, where defensive technique and defending in general is not so great, I feel that this variation allows White to generate an attack very easily and without Black having any real obvious attacking threats himself (unlike, say, the Sicilian Dragon variation). This view is borne out by some of the games in this feature, where Black comes out of the opening OK but still has to defend accurately in the middle game in order to avoid disaster. Playing accurate defensive moves for long periods of a game is very difficult and particularly so for club players."

Thanks very much to Nick for putting so much work into this post. If you have any questions for him about the analysis or the opening in general then please add a comment below by clicking on the little pencil icon. If readers would like to see any particular opening variations covered in future posts please add a comment here or e-mail me with your suggestions.

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