Sicilian Defence, Alapin Variation
|Moves||1.e4 c5 2.c3|
|Named after||Semyon Alapin|
Today, the Alapin is considered one of the most solid and respectable Anti-Sicilians and is championed by grandmasters such as Evgeny Sveshnikov, Eduardas Rozentalis, Sergei Tiviakov, Duško Pavasovič and Drazen Sermek. It has been played by World Champions Viswanathan Anand, Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik. Deep Blue played the Alapin Variation against Kasparov in their 1996 match, to avoid a main line Sicilian that would walk into Kasparov's lifetime of experience with the opening.
The Alapin is also sometimes seen in deferred form, particularly if Black chooses an unusual second move after 2.Nf3. For example, after 2.Nf3 a6 or 2.Nf3 Qc7, 3.c3 is often seen, since neither ...a6 nor ...Qc7 are particularly useful moves against the Alapin.
|This article uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.|
The main line in current practice is 2... Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 and can also arise if White offers, and Black declines, the Smith–Morra Gambit (1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5).
White has a number of options including 4.d4, 4.Nf3, 4.g3 and 4.Bc4.
This is the main alternative to 2...Nf6 for Black. The usual continuation is 3. exd5 Qxd5, a line known as the Barmen Defense. 3.e5 may transpose into the Advance Variation of the French Defence if Black responds with 3...e6, but Black can also develop his c8-Bishop before playing e6. This leads to a favourable version of the French for Black, since the bishop is no longer hemmed in by the pawn chain. If White plays 3.exd5, 3...Nf6 is possible, but it is not clear whether Black receives sufficient compensation for the pawn.
The main options revolve around:
- 4. d4 Nc6 and now 5.dxc5 or 5.Nf3
- 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 when after both 5...e6 and 5...Bg4 White can try a number of different moves.
This is Black's most solid response, preparing 3...d5. It is closely related to the French Defense, to which it often transposes. White can transpose to the Advance Variation of the French Defense with 3.d4 d5 4.e5. Alternatively, White can transpose to a sort of Tarrasch French with 3.d4 d5 4.Nd2, or try to demonstrate a slight advantage with 3.d4 d5 4.exd5 exd5 5.Be3.
This is a sharp response. Black often offers a gambit with 3.d4 Nf6 4.dxc5 Nc6 (4...Nxe4?? 5.Qa4+) 5.cxd6 Nxe4. White can instead play quietly, however, with 3.d4 Nf6 4.Bd3, occupying the centre and maintaining a spatial advantage.
This move makes it hard for White to play d4, but seriously weakens the d5 square. Play usually continues 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.Bc4, with a solid edge for White.
- Siegbert Tarrasch wrote, using descriptive chess notation, "To 2.P-QB3? Black can advantageously reply with 2...P-Q4!." Siegbert Tarrasch, The Game of Chess, David McKay, 1938, p. 322. ISBN 978-1-880673-94-2 (1994 Hays Publishing edition).
- Walter Korn, much like Tarrasch, dismissed the Alapin with "2...P-Q4!=." Walter Korn, Modern Chess Openings, 11th Edition (commonly referred to as MCO-11), Pitman Publishing, 1972, p. 148. ISBN 0-273-41845-9.
- "David Howell vs. Wang Yue (2012)". Retrieved 31 January 2012.
- Rozentalis, Eduardas and Harley, Andrew, Play the 2.c3 Sicilian (UK: Gambit Publications 2002) ISBN 1-901983-56-0
- Collins, Sam (2007). Chess Explained: The c3 Sicilian. Gambit Publications. ISBN 978-1904600718.
- Chandler, Murray (1997). The Complete c3 Sicilian. Intl Chess Enterprises. ISBN 1879479508.
- Emms, John (2008). Starting Out: The c3 Sicilian. Everyman Chess. ISBN 1-85744-570-8.
- Sveshnikov, Evgeny (1997). Sicilian Defence B22. Chess Informant. ISBN 8672970292.
- Sveshnikov, Evgeny (2010). The Complete C3 Sicilian: The Alapin Variation by Its Greatest Expert. New in Chess. ISBN 9056913298.
|The Wikibook Chess Opening Theory has a page on the topic of: Alapin Variation|