[January 31, 2019] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Sicilian Defense, Modern Variation with 3. d4 (incl. Chekhover & Prins Variations)
[Line 463 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4]
After the most common 3… cxd4 White can avoid the main lines of the Sicilian Defense by opting for the Chekhover Variation (4. Qxd4). Black’s usual replies are 4… Nc6, 4… a6 and 4… Nf6.
In case of 4… Nc6 5. Bb5 Bd7, White has a choice: the first option is the classical 6. Bxc6 Bxc6 7. Nc3 Nf6 8. Bg5 e6, with a dynamic game, where White typically castles queenside, while Black goes with his King to the opposite side of the board. Modern 6. Qd3 is often followed by c2-c4, O-O and Nc3, and after a7-a6 White trades his light-squared Bishop with Bxc6.
The idea of 4… a6 is clear – preparing the Nc6, while preventing the white Bishop from going to the b5-square. White can make use of the tempo Black spent on a7-a6 to gain some space advantage with 5. c4, and after 5… Nc6 his most frequent choice is 6. Qe3.
By playing 4… Nf6 Black generally intends to meet 5. Bb5+ with 5… Bd7, while after 5. Nc3 both 5… a6 and 5… Nc6 are just fine.
In the main variation of the Sicilian Defense – 4. Nxd4 Nf6, as an alternative to 5. Nc3 (Lines 464-500), White has the Prins Variation (5. f3), where Black’s most popular replies are 5… e5 and 5… Nc6.
Another option for Black is to start with 3… Nf6, where after 4. Nc3 cxd4 White has a choice between 5. Nxd4 (transposing to Line 464) and 5. Qxd4 (covered in the move order 3… cxd4 4. Qxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3). White has two other responses on the 4th move – 4. Bb5+ and 4. dxc5, but Black should not have difficulties to obtain equal chances.
[Diagram: Black to Move] D. Mastrovasilis – K. Sakaev, Budva 2009. Poor placement of the white Bishop allows Black to seize a longterm initiative. How would you proceed?
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