Sicilian Defense (introduction, ideas & variations) ⎸Chess Openings

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The Sicilian Defense is the most aggressive way for black to fight for an advantage against 1.e4. Unlike the classical e5, or g6, d6, e6 or c6, 1…c5 gives black a whole different repertoire of attacking options and lets him choose the direction in which the game will go.

This is an introductory video to the Sicilian Defense, and its purpose is to give you an idea of what the opening is about, which are the main plans for both sides, which are the upsides and the downsides for black and for white. It also covers all the variations briefly. A detailed separate video will be made on each variation.

The Sicilian Defense occurs as soon as black plays c5. White’s second move greatly influences what the game will be like. White can choose between several options; 2. Nf3 (the main line and the most common move), 2. Nc3 (the Closed Sicilian), 2. c3 (the Alapin or the c3 Sicilian), 2. f4, 2. d4 and several others.

Here are the main variations covered in the video:

14:49 2. Nf3
2…d6 (5. Nc3, f3 (Prins); 5…a6 Najdorf, 5…g6 Dragon, 5…Nc6 Classical, 5…e6 Scheveningen
2…Nc6 Old Sicilian (4…Nf6 Open, 4…g6 Accelerated Dragon, 4…e5 Loewenthal
2…e6 (3. d4, 3. c4 Kramnik; 4…Nc6 Paulsen, 4…a6 Kan, 4…Nf6 French: 5…Nc6 Four Knights, 5…Bb4 Pin)
2…g6 Hyperaccelerated Dragon
2…a6 O’Kelly
2…Nf6 Nimzowitsch

06:12 2. Nc3 (Closed Sicilian) 2…Nc6
3. g6 Fianchetto, 3. Bb5, 3. f4 Grand Prix

09:55 2. c3 Alapin 2…Nf6, 2…d5
12:20 2. f4 McDonnell Attack
13:04 2. d4 Smith-Morra Gambit

There are a lot of games and players to study if you would like to master the Sicilian. Perhaps the strongest Sicilian player today is Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. His Najdorf repertoire is enough to get you to FM level (and it will take you a few years to study it). In separate videos on each variation I’ll name a couple of key players whose games should be studied. For now, start with MVL.


  1. 3 years in and still getting comments. Nice job with teaching this material.

  2. These are the best thumbnails on youtube

  3. this channel is amazing amount of effort you have put into cover so many openings is unparalled

  4. 23:12 which video contains 3. Bb6? Having a hard time with the accent of the name.. feel like he's saying nimzowitch-rossolimo, is that correct??

  5. Great video! I was taught the pawn structure and the dangerous bishop inside resembled a Dragon's lair and the fire it breathes… But who knows.

  6. Very instructive video!!! At 32:22 I think black can play Bb4 and if white jumps in d6 with his knight black plays king e7 and then white has to take the bishop on c8 then black takes with the rook, Bd3, rook e8, black castles artificially and it is quite a balanced game.

  7. Just waiting for this channel to fly to the moon in the chess community

  8. In the dragon f3 by white is not defending the pawn on e4. f3 is to stop Ng4. Getting rid of your black bishop, and keeping the strong black bishop in g7 aimed at everything on black squares on white side of the board. Very cool video I hope I get to see all the variations.

  9. I tried to give you two likes but I had to make them three😊

  10. Thank you very much for helping me become a better player

  11. Please stay the same even if your subscribers increase.

  12. What's wrong with 2.d6 against the Closed Sicilian?

  13. very well made video, i will be watching this many times over lol

  14. Stephon, you are awesome; encyclopedic even! almost any variation of any opening i want to learn, you have a detailed explanation that guides one to a balanced middlegame, complete with sidelines, mainlines and personal opinions. you are very thorough; the two times i have faced situations you havent covered, i am simply lost (not completely, i looked up games like you often advise). which is why i am asking you to add a video covering the Chekhover variation to this amazing Sicilian playlist. many thanks!

  15. God bless you, and keep up the GREAT work!

  16. 0:00 Intro

    6:11 2.Nc3 (Closed Sicilian)
    6:46 3.g3 (Fianchetto Variation)
    7:36 3.Bb5
    8:48 3.f4 (Grand Prix)

    9:55 2.c3 (Alapin)
    10:20 2…Nf6
    11:37 2…d5

    12:12 2.f4 (McDonnell Attack)
    13:00 2.d4 (Smith-Morra Gambit)

    14:45 2.Nf3

    15:13 2…d6
    15:41 5.f3 (Prins Variation)
    18:15 5…a6 (Najdorf Variation)
    19:16 5…g6 (Dragon Variation)
    20:14 5…Nc6 (Classical Variation)
    21:00 5…e6 (Scheveningen Variation)

    22:45 2…Nc6 (Old Sicilian)
    23:32 4…Nf6 (Open)
    24:21 4…g6 (Accelerated Dragon)
    26:42 4…e5 (Löwenthal Variation)

    28:27 2…e6
    28:40 3.c4 (Kramnik Variation)
    29:38 3.Nc3
    30:02 3.d4
    30:24 4…Nc6 (Paulsen [Taimanov] Variation)
    31:01 4…a6 (Kan Variation)
    32:03 4…Nf6 (French Variation)
    32:10 5…Nc6 (Four Knights Varation)
    33:11 5…Bb4 (Pin Variation)

    34:53 2…g6 (Hyperaccelerated Dragon)
    36:02 2…a6 (O'Kelly Variation)
    37:14 2…Nf6 (Nimzowitsch Variation)

  17. at the beginning you sound so tired as you explain how many variations there is in the Sicilian haha

  18. Incredibly awesome video for anyone trying to decide what Sicilian they want to be!

  19. I feel like this is a great chess tutorial, but it just goes a little bit too fast for me. Like, yeah it does have some good moves, but slow down a bit I'm trying to learn the theory not speedrun chess

  20. Thank you so much this video is very helpful and I strongly support your channel

  21. I'll give diamond 💎 membership to one who can defeat me in any format of the game..
    Game condition –
    He/she must be 1800+

  22. Why not play knight b3 in lowenthal variation after e5? Stockfish depth 30 says its better idk why it's not

  23. I love this guy…such a great teacher…these videos help a ton keep em coming

  24. This was a really concise and yet thorough introduction. Very helpful. Nicely focused on giving information, not trying to entertain. Just want I need. Looking forward to going through your other workshops. Thanks!

  25. I found this video and playlist important to me, so I need to invest my period in learning and practicing on this channel by saying that I have already liked the video and subscribed to get more from you. am a beginner but hoping to learn and enhance my progress.

  26. Hello I'm a new student and a beginner in chess can you please give me a link or list down the learning roadmap of courses and lessons I can learn in order to enhance my progress.

  27. Rick Astley is the best chess player (I am subscribed)

  28. People don't really appreciate how lucky we are that Elon Musk himself is teaching us chess theory.

  29. anche detto il match per chi ottiene un cancro più velocemente

  30. Will you make a video about the b3 sicillian because there aren't a lot of videos on that opening on YouTube?

  31. So I've known about your Chanel for a while, but I am officially taking you as my master today, it's an honor to be your student.

  32. You would have got nowhere as a German spy in wartime Holland pronouncing "Scheveningen" like that. Good video though!

  33. Thank you Sir a lot for these videos. I am seeing all these videos almost after 4 years but its still helping me a lot. Most of the other chess youtubers don't cover the opening theories in as much depth as you do. Excellent work!!

  34. Thanks so much man, the best channel ever. Saludos desde Uruguay.

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